A reader made the comment that “blogging is like doing case studies”. Made me think about the similarities and differences. Since case study is a well known qualitative method used in evaluation with small samples, I think this view is valid.
Blogs are small samples of something observed in depth, with great scrutiny, and often with serious time commitment, although Brinkerhoff in his book, “The Success Case Method” advocates a case study method that is “valid, practical, fast, and credible”. I must provide the caveat that the book was developed for organizations which put out innovations and improvements (as in products, like Ford Motor Company, Gap International) not educational organizations (like universities or school districts), so a bit of translation will be needed.
There are many sources for case study research. Perhaps Bob Stake and Robert Yin are the best known in the evaluation field. Bob Stake’s first book (that I have on my shelf; there may be others that I don’t have) is “The Art of Case Study Research” . Google books says this about that volume, “This book presents a disciplined, qualitative exploration of case study methods by drawing from naturalistic, holistic, ethnographic, phenomenological and biographic research methods.” (And it is less than 200 pages.) Robert Yin has a fifth edition of the “Case Study Research” book available now from Sage .
After you have been blogging for a while (several months, for example), the blog will have categorized the posts. The tags will help determine what are the most relevant points. Use those tags and categories to help develop the “case”. You will find posts that form the case, more cases than you realized. So multiple posts on the same subject will provide you with multiple observations; one post may provide you with a slice of something in-depth, an individual case study, if you will.
Scriven, in the 4th edition of the Evaluation Thesaurus says this of case-study method: “The case study method is at the opposite end of one dimension of the spectrum of methods from the survey method, the micro end rather than the macro end.” Blogs are a microcosm of information as well. He goes on, “…observing…is more characteristic of case-study method than large-scale surveys…Causation is usually determined in case studies by the modus operandi method, rather than by comparison of an experimental with a control group.” He refers the reader to “Naturalistic” where he references Ernie House, Egon Guba, Yvonna Lincoln, Bob Stake, and Bob Wolf and states that naturalistic approaches “…stress contextual factors, unstructured interviewing, observation rather than testing…”
All this reminds me of blogging.
What do you think? Is blogging a form of case study? Let me know.