What do you understand by Case Study? Discuss the use of case study method in LIS Research.

Meaning of Case Study:-

A case study is an in-depth, detailed examination of a specific subject, such as an individual, group, event, organization, or phenomenon. It aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the case and its context by collecting and analyzing various data sources. Case studies are commonly used in social sciences, education, business, and clinical research to explore complex issues in real-life settings.

Use of Case Study Method in LIS Research

1. Understanding Complex Phenomena
The case study method is particularly useful in Library and Information Science (LIS) research for understanding complex phenomena within their real-life context. For example, a case study might explore how a particular library implements a new digital catalog system and the impact it has on user satisfaction and staff workflow.

2. Exploring “How” and “Why” Questions
Case studies are well-suited for answering “how” and “why” questions, which are common in LIS research. For instance, a researcher might use a case study to investigate how a library’s community outreach program influences local literacy rates and why certain strategies are more effective than others.

3. Multiple Data Sources
A key strength of the case study method is its use of multiple data sources, which can include interviews, observations, documents, and archival records. This triangulation of data enhances the validity and reliability of the findings. In LIS research, this might involve combining user surveys, circulation data, and staff interviews to get a holistic view of a library service.

4. Detailed Contextual Analysis
Case studies provide rich, contextual insights that are often missing from quantitative research. They allow researchers to delve deeply into the specific circumstances and nuances of a case. For example, a case study on the implementation of an open-access repository in a university library can reveal the challenges and successes experienced during the process.

5. Flexibility in Research Design
The case study method offers flexibility in research design, allowing researchers to adapt their approach as new insights emerge. This is particularly beneficial in LIS research, where the dynamic nature of information technology and user needs often requires iterative investigation.

6. Generating Hypotheses for Further Research
Case studies can help generate hypotheses for further research. By providing detailed observations and insights, they can identify patterns and relationships that can be tested in larger, more generalizable studies. For example, a case study on user behavior in a digital library might suggest new hypotheses about user preferences and search strategies.

7. Addressing Practical Problems
Case studies are valuable for addressing practical problems in LIS. They can provide actionable recommendations based on real-world evidence. For instance, a case study on the redesign of a library’s physical space might offer practical insights into how layout changes can improve user experience and accessibility.

8. Illustrating Best Practices
Case studies can illustrate best practices and innovative solutions in LIS. By documenting successful initiatives and their outcomes, they provide valuable examples that other libraries can learn from and replicate. For example, a case study on a successful literacy program in a public library can serve as a model for other libraries aiming to implement similar programs.

Challenges and Limitations

1. Generalizability
One of the main limitations of case studies is their lack of generalizability. Because they focus on a single case or a small number of cases, the findings may not be applicable to other contexts. However, the detailed insights they provide can still be valuable for theory building and practical application.

2. Time-Consuming
Case studies can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. Collecting and analyzing multiple sources of data requires significant effort and time. Researchers must be prepared for the intensive nature of this method.

3. Subjectivity
There is a risk of subjectivity in case study research, as the researcher’s interpretations and biases can influence the findings. To mitigate this, researchers should use multiple data sources and maintain a transparent and systematic approach to data collection and analysis.


The Case study method is a powerful tool in Library and Information Science research. It allows for an in-depth exploration of complex phenomena, provides rich contextual insights, and can generate hypotheses for further research. Despite its challenges, the detailed and practical insights gained from case studies make them invaluable for advancing knowledge and practice in the field of LIS.


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