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7 Types of Case Studies Every Student Needs to Know

Are you struggling with tackling case studies in your academic journey?

Put an end to your struggles with this guide. This guide will help you handle different types of case studies effectively. 

Did you know that by exploring different approaches to case studies, you can really improve your research skills and analytical capabilities?

So don’t miss out on the opportunity, explore various case study methods today! And Get a chance to enhance your abilities and broaden your knowledge. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover 7 types of case studies that are essential for every student to understand. Ranging from illustrative to exploratory, cumulative to intrinsic. By comprehending these techniques, you will acquire the necessary skills to succeed in your academic pursuits.

What is a Case Study?

Do you know what is a case study

A case study is an important component of academic research. It is a specific research methodology, which basically explores and examines projects, subjects, or organizations to collect evidence. Based on this evidence, narratives are constructed and conclusions are drawn. 

Purpose of a Case Study

The purpose of a case study is to explore every aspect of the case within its real-life context. It is like a detective story that uncovers all the hidden details of a particular person, event, or situation. By doing so researchers can identify patterns and relationships, and come up with new ideas and theories for further research. By doing so researchers can gain valuable insights into specific situations and scenarios. Researchers can further explore human behavior and societal phenomena.  Furthermore, case studies provide practical solutions for real-world problems, and also contribute to the development of theoretical frameworks in various fields.

What Are Case Studies Used for?

Case studies are commonly used in academic research across various disciplines, including psychology, business, sociology, health care and many more. By exploring multiple aspects of a case researchers come up with hypotheses, which are then the basis of further research.

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Types of Case Studies

Let’s dive into the various case study types every student must know about. Read up to expand both your abilities and your knowledge.

Illustrative Case Studies

Illustrative case studies are one of the types of case study methods that is primarily descriptive. When you are conducting illustrative case studies you aim to examine specific events, phenomena and well-known cases. 

Illustrative case studies are a valuable learning tool, and they provide you with detailed insights into various scenarios. One of the pros of such a case study is that you don’t have to worry about testing your hypotheses or establishing causality. 


An illustrative case study can be used to explore a successful marketing strategy using methodologies like surveys and interviews. Via these methodologies, researchers can gather data to analyze different aspects of the campaign including its effectiveness, messaging, and target audience. 

Exploratory Case Studies

Looking to make your large-scale research project successful, then conduct an exploratory case study. These studies are like initial investigations, and these allow researchers to identify any potential challenges and gather valuable insights before diving into more extensive research. Researchers can make informed decisions and save both time and resources in the long run with the help of exploratory case studies.  

Exploratory case studies are commonly used in the fields of political science and psychology. 


You can use the exploratory case study to investigate a new product or service offered by a company. Various methodologies like interviews and focus groups can be used to gather information about the features of the product and the reliability of the service. Furthermore, these methodologies can be used to identify the advantages as well as the potential market of the product or service. 

Cumulative Case Studies

Wonder what are the types of case studies that help you fully understand an issue or phenomenon? One such type is the Cumulative Case Study.

The word cumulative means collective, and the cumulative case study is used to gather information from various sources at different times. This helps in a holistic understanding of the issue or the phenomenon.

You don’t have to conduct any additional investigation as this study focuses on summarizing and using the research already conducted in the area. As you use the existing research material for this study, it helps you gain valuable insight into complex topics. 


Cumulative studies can be used in the field of health care, where different treatment methods would be analyzed to explore their effectiveness for a health condition. Various methodologies can be used to gather information such as surveys and interviews. Furthermore, in the specific case we are discussing, data can also be gathered from patient records. 

Critical Instance Case Studies

When dealing with critical cases where you have to determine the cause and effect, you can use critical instance case studies. This sort of study aims to examine unique cases with significant interest. It would sometimes challenge universal claims and shed light on bigger problems. 


A critical instance case study can be used to analyze a specific legal case that impacted a community or industry. This study would ask you to explore various factors that influenced the outcomes. As in our example of a legal case you analyze social, legal and political factors. 

Intrinsic Case Studies

If you are aiming to understand your subject better, then you should use an intrinsic case study. This case study focuses on individual phenomena or cases with distinct characteristics and unique values. This study examines the history and interactions of the subject with its environment which provides valuable insights into specific cases. 


An intrinsic case study would be used to explore a rare medical condition and its impacts, using various tools to gather information such as interviews with the patient and their families. 

Descriptive Case Studies

Descriptive Case Studies is a case study type that provides detailed descriptions of specific phenomena. This study establishes connections between the subject matter and the theoretical framework. These use quantitative data as a starting point for further research and provide a comprehensive assessment of specific cases, but these don’t make generalizations beyond the case. 


A descriptive case study can be used to analyze archaeological artifacts. When this artifact would be studied a comprehensive assessment would be provided based on its characteristics, its history, and its cultural context. But while these comprehensive assessments are being made you would not make any kind of generalization beyond this specific case. 

Instrumental Case Studies

Case studies primarily used in qualitative research are Instrumental Case Studies. This is a type of case study that focuses on a specific case to provide information about the research question. Using this specific case study researchers can explore complex concepts and theories. 


You can use instrumental case studies if you want to explore the effects of a new teaching method being used in school by analyzing classroom observations and teacher interviews. 

Types of Subjects in Case Studies

Wondering what are the different types of case study subjects? Case studies can have multiple subjects ranging from individuals and groups to locations, organizations, and events. Each type of subject gives a unique insight and challenge. Further, these subjects allow researchers to use specific methodologies.  


Familiarizing yourself with various types of case studies for research is important for students embarking on their research journey. Enhance your skills to approach academic challenges with confidence. Understanding these methodologies will empower you to explore and examine complex research projects effectively.

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Are case studies qualitative or quantitative?

Case studies are primarily qualitative as they offer detailed descriptions and analysis of specific cases.

What type of research design is a case study?

A Case study is designed in a way that allows in-depth and detailed research on the topic.

What type of research method is a case study?

A case study is a qualitative research method as it focuses on exploring and understanding complex phenomena within their real-life context. 

How long should a case study be?

The length of a case study can vary depending on the complexity and purpose, but it is typically 500 – 1500 words. 

Why are case studies beneficial to researchers?

Case studies are beneficial to researchers as they offer valuable insights into a specific phenomenon reveal patterns and relationships, provide hypotheses for further research, and explore complex or rare phenomena.


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