ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Case Study Research: Method and Practice

Ingo Rohlfing
ingo.rohlfing@uni-passau.de

Universität Passau

Ingo Rohlfing is Professor of Methods of Comparative Political Research at the Cologne Center for Comparative Politics, University of Cologne.

He researches social science methods with a focus on qualitative methods (case studies and process tracing), Qualitative Comparative Analysis and multimethod research.

Ingo is author of Case Studies and Causal Inference (Palgrave Macmillan) and he has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Sociological Methods & Research and Political Analysis.

  @ingorohlfing

Course Dates and Times

Monday 15 ꟷ Friday 19 March 2021
2 hours of live teaching per day
This course is taking place twice in one day
09:30-11:30 and 14:00-16:00 CET

 

Prerequisite Knowledge

Prior training in research design and qualitative methods is recommended, but not required.


Short Outline

This seminar-type course provides a highly interactive online teaching and learning environment, using state of the art online pedagogical tools. It is designed for a demanding audience (researchers, professional analysts, advanced students) and capped at a maximum of 12 participants so that the Instructor can cater to the specific needs of each individual.

By the end of this course...

You will have learned about all elements of comparative case studies and process tracing, and able to implement a sound case study.

ECTS Credits

3 credits Engage fully with class activities 
4 credits Complete a post-class assignment


Long Course Outline

The course organisation follows the research process. 
We will cover each of the following topics step by step.

Day 1

You will learn about the landscape of case study designs and identify the design that fits your research question. Starting with a brief discussion of concepts, we will also briefly discuss the role and importance of populations. 

Day 2

You will learn about the menu of types of cases that you can choose for analysis (typical, most-likely etc) and how to choose the case you need to achieve your research goal. 

Day 3

We introduce different types of comparisons, how they relate to the types of cases and their choice, and what the benefits and limits of informed comparisons are. 

Day 4

You will be introduced to process tracing and how it can be used to study mechanisms. This includes a discussion of the pros and cons of different types of sources and their organisation in the research process. 

Day 5

We conclude by arranging all elements in a broader picture and discuss the generalisation challenge in small-n research.


Our course will consist of multiple components. 

First, pre-recorded sessions introduce you to the methodological principles of case study research. The recordings come with small quizzes and sets of questions for self-paced practice. Watch the videos before the course starts. Interactive live online sessions use Zoom, along with tools such as etherpads.

The live sessions will involve Q&A sessions on the recordings. The main part will be the application of general methodological principles to published case studies and your individual projects. Each live session will last about 180 minutes in total per day.

Day Topic Details
1 Introduction to essentials of the case study method

Lecture ~90 min

  • Course goals
  • Essentials and concepts central to the case study method (as discussed in this course)
  • Dimensions of case study research
  • Levels of analysis, causal effects and causal mechanism

Lab ~60 min

  • Dimensions in participants’ research
2 Causation and modes of causal inference

Lecture ~100 min

  • Associations and causal inference
  • Causal effects: correlation vs. set relations
  • Basics of Bayesianism

Lab ~60 min

  • What are causal effects and causal mechanisms in participants’ research?
  • How can participants infer causation in their study?
4 Types of cases and case selection

Discussion of assignment from day 3 ~45 min

Lecture ~90 min

  • Characteristics of types of cases (typical, deviant, most-likely etc.)
  • Selection rules for different types of cases

Lab ~45 min

  • Reflection on general case selection strategies
3 Concepts and specification of population

Discussion of assignment from day 2 ~30 min

Lecture ~100 min

  • Scope conditions
  • Positive concepts, negative concepts, and continua

Lab ~60 min

  • Identification of scope conditions and concepts in participants’ projects
5 Types of cases and case selection

Discussion of assignment from day 3 ~45 min

Lecture ~90 min

  • Characteristics of types of cases (typical, deviant, most-likely etc.)
  • Selection rules for different types of cases

Lab ~45 min

  • Identification appropriate type of case and selection rule in participants’ projects
6 Within-case analysis: method and practice

Assignment / lab ~90 min, done in class

  • Identifying observations in empirical research

Lecture ~90 min

  • Process tracing and collecting observations
  • Tying evidence to concepts and inferences
  • Pros and cons of different types of sources
7 Cross-case comparisons: advanced issues

Discussion of assignment  from day 6 ~45 min

Lecture ~120 min

  • Units of analysis and time in comparisons
  • Multi-case comparisons
  • Binary and categorical measurement in comparisons
  • Role of scope conditions
8 Within-case analysis: method and practice

Assignment/lab ~90 min, done in class

  • Identifying observations in empirical research

Lecture ~90 min

  • Process tracing & collecting observations
  • Tying evidence to concepts and inferences
  • Pros and cons of different types of sources
9 From observations to inferences

Discussion of assignment  from day 8 ~45 min

Lecture ~140 min

  • Unique and contradictory inferences
10 Generalisation, summary and Q&A

Lecture ~90 min

  • Strategies of generalising causal inferences
  • Summary of course

Q&A ~90 min

Day Readings
1

Rohlfing, Ingo (2012)
Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework Chapter 1
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Voluntary

Gerring, John (2004)
What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good For?
American Political Science Review 98 (2): 341–354

2

Brady, Henry A. (2008)
Causation and Explanation in Social Science
in Box-Steffensmeier, Janet M., Henry Brady and David Collier (eds.)
The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology pp217–226
Oxford: Oxford University Press

Rohlfing, Ingo (2012)
Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework Sections 2.3 and 2.4, and Chapter 8 (will be online)
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Voluntary (causation and causal inference)

Machamer, Peter, Lindley Darden, and Carl F. Craver (2000)
Thinking about mechanisms
Philosophy of Science 67 (1): 1–25

Machamer, Peter (2004)
Activities and Causation: The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Mechanisms
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 18 (1): 27–39

Gerring, John (2005)
Causation: A Unified Framework for the Social Sciences
Journal of Theoretical Politics 17 (2): 163–198

Hedström, Peter and Petri Ylikoski (2010)
Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences
Annual Review of Sociology 36 (1): 49–67

Lebow, Richard Ned (2010) 
Forbidden Fruit: Counterfactuals and International Relations Chapter 2
Princeton: Princeton University Press

Goertz, Gary and James Mahoney (2012)
A Tale of Two Cultures: Contrasting Qualitative and Quantitative Paradigms Chapter 2
Princeton: Princeton University Press

Voluntary (Bayesianism)

Bennett, Andrew (2010)
Process Tracing and Causal Inference
in Brady, Henry E. and David Collier (eds.)
Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards pp207–219
Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield

Beach, Derek and Rasmus Brun Pedersen (2012)
Process Tracing Methods Chapters 5 and 6
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press

Rohlfing, Ingo (forthcoming)
Comparative hypothesis testing via process tracing
Sociological Methods & Research

Rohlfing, Ingo (2013)
Bayesian causal inference in process tracing
SSRN working paper

3

Goertz, Gary (2006)
Social Science Concepts: A User's Guide pp27–53
Princeton: Princeton University Press

Ragin, Charles C. (2000)
Fuzzy-Set Social Science Chapter 2
Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Voluntary

Sartori, Giovanni (1970)
Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics
American Political Science Review 64 (4): 1033–1053

Walker, Henry A. and Bernard P. Cohen (1985)
Scope Statements – Imperatives for Evaluating Theory
American Sociological Review 50 (3): 288–301

Adcock, Robert and David Collier (2001)
Measurement validity: A shared standard for qualitative and quantitative research
American Political Science Review 95 (3):529–546

4

Rohlfing, Ingo (2012)
Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework Chapter 3 (will be online)
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Voluntary (types of cases)

Lijphart, Arend (1971)
Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method
American Political Science Review 65 (3): 682–693

Eckstein, Harry (1975)
Case Study and Theory in Political Science
In Greenstein, F.I. and N. W. Polsby (eds)
Strategies of Inquiry: Handbook of Political Science, Vol. 7, pp92–123
Reading: Addison-Wesley

Skocpol, Theda (2003)
Doubly Engaged Social Science
In Mahoney, James and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (eds)
Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences pp407–428
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Voluntary (case selection)

King, Gary, Robert O. Keohane and Sidney Verba (1994)
Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research pp128–148
Princeton: Princeton University Press

Collier, David and James Mahoney (1996)
Insights and Pitfalls: Selection Bias in Qualitative Research
World Politics 49 (1): 56–91

Seawright, Jason and John Gerring (2008)
Case-Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Quantitative Options
Political Research Quarterly 61 (2): 294–308

5

Same as day 4

6

Rohlfing, Ingo (2012)
Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework Chapter 4
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Voluntary

Lijphart, Arend (1971)
Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method
American Political Science Review 65 (3): 682–693

Lieberson, Stanley (1991)
Small Ns and Big Conclusions: An Examination of the Reasoning in Comparative Studies Based on a Small Number of Cases
Social Forces 70 (2): 307–320

Savolainen, Jukka (1994)
The Rationality of Drawing Big Conclusions Based on Small Samples: In Defense of Mill's Methods
Social Forces 72 (4): 1217–1224

Lieberson, Stanley (1994)
More on the Uneasy Case for Using Mill-Type Methods in Small-N Comparative Studies
Social Forces 72 (4): 1225–1237

George, Alexander L. and Andrew Bennett (2005)
Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences Chapter 8
Cambridge: MIT Press

Mahoney, James (1999)
Nominal, Ordinal, and Narrative Appraisal in Macrocausal Analysis
American Journal of Sociology 104 (4): 1154–1196

Tarrow, Sidney (2010)
The Strategy of Paired Comparison: Toward a Theory of Practice
Comparative Political Studies 43 (2): 230–259

Slater, Dan and Daniel Ziblatt (2013)
The Enduring Indispensability of the Controlled Comparison
Comparative Political Studies 46 (10): 1301–1327

7

Rohlfing, Ingo (2012)
Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework  Chapter 5
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Voluntary

George, Alexander L. (1979)
Case Studies and Theory Development: The Method of Structured, Focused Comparison
In Lauren, Paul Gordon (ed)
Diplomacy: New Approaches in History, Theory, and Policy pp43–68
New York: Free Press

Mahoney, James (2000)
Strategies of Causal Inference in Small-N Analysis
Sociological Methods & Research 28 (4): 387–424

George, Alexander L. and Andrew Bennett (2005)
Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences Chapter 9
Cambridge: MIT Press

Gerring, John, and Rose McDermott (2007)
An Experimental Template for Case Study Research
American Journal of Political Science 51 (3): 688–701

Anckar, Carsten (2008)
On the Applicability of the Most Similar Systems Design and the Most Different Systems Design in Comparative Research
International Journal of Social Research Methodology 11 (5): 380–401

8

Bennett, Andrew and Jeffrey Checkel (2014)
Process Tracing: From Methodological Roots to Best Practices
In Bennett, Andrew and Jeffrey Checkel (ed.)
Process Tracing in the Social Sciences: From Metaphor to Analytic Tool pp1–37
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Voluntary

Collier, David, Henry Brady and Jason Seawright (2004)
Sources of Leverage in Causal Inference: Toward an Alternative View of Methodology
In: Brady, Henry  and David Collier (eds)
Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards pp250–264
Rowman & Littlefield: Lanham

Checkel, Jeffrey T. (2008)
Process Tracing
In A. Klotz and D. Prakash (eds.)
Qualitative methods in international relations: a pluralist guide pp114–127
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Gerring, John (2008)
The Mechanismic Worldview: Thinking Inside the Box
British Journal of Political Science 38: 161–179

Hall, Peter A. (2008)
Systematic Process Analysis: When and How to Use It
European Political Science 7 (3): 304–317

Beach, Derek and Rasmus Brun Pedersen (2013)
Process-Tracing Methods Chapter 1
Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press

9

Romney and Weller (1990)
Metric Scaling: Correspondence Analysis
Sage Publications
Compulsory: pp17–26, pp55–70, pp85–90

Jörg Blasius, Victor Thiessen (2006)
Assessing Data Quality and Construct Comparability in Cross-National Surveys
European Sociological Review, 22 (3), July 2006
pp229–242 (recommended)

10

Rohlfing, Ingo (2012)
Case Studies and Causal Inference: An Integrative Framework Chapter 9
Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Voluntary

Rueschemeyer, Dietrich (2003)
Can One or a Few Cases Yield Theoretical Gains?
In Mahoney, James and Dietrich Rueschemeyer (eds)
Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences pp305–332
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Ruzzene, Attilia (2012)
Drawing Lessons from Case Studies by Enhancing Comparability
Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (1): 99–120

Schatz, Edward and Elena Maltseva (2012)
Assumed to be Universal: The Leap from Data to Knowledge in the American Political Science Review
Polity 44 (3): 446–472


Additional Information

Disclaimer

This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.