Different Types of Case Studies with Examples

Different Types of Case Studies with Examples

Published by on 2021-04-07 10:29:51

The kind of academic assignment we are going to discuss is an exclusively effective instrument of education. It’s been known since ancient times that the best way for a person to learn new things is to see and analyze real examples. While studying in that way, it becomes possible for a student to improve the informational synthesis in their mind and significantly increase the effectiveness of their learning. Of course, we mean different types of case studies.

Throughout the entire history of education, various types of case study papers have been used to educate and prepare students of law, medicine, sociology, and many more fields. For instance, every sociological case study example is always a valuable piece of information that might help newcomers understand the processes inside societies much better. Most frequently, such assignments are about answering the topical question in detail by previously collecting and analyzing the available data.

Still, probably the best explanation for this kind of task is the definition of case study in psychology. According to the case study method psychology definition available in “Experimental methodology” by L.B. Christensen, it is “the use of a descriptive research approach” in order to get a detailed “analysis of a person, group or phenomenon”.

For many first-year students, all types of case studies seem to be difficult and boring assignments. However, you’ll most probably change your mind after you read this article and pass through one or two of those studies on your own.

What Is the Case Study Research Method?

The case study method means a learning approach that poses a certain issue (actually, the case) for a student to research. To conduct a case study worth the best grade, a student explores a real problem inside the given contextual frames with the use of different data sources.

As you can understand from the name and definitions above, every paper of this type is based on a particular case rather than on several examples. The popularity of the method is huge because it is perfect for demonstrating the process of researching to those who have never been familiar with it before: for instance, first-year students.

As all types of case study research projects are focused on a single object or question (the “case”), they are almost ideal for newbie researchers to try their abilities with something smaller before they start working with big data volumes. An effective study is always about the thorough investigation and gradual progress, isn’t it?

Types of Case Study Research Explained

Four main types of case study in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and other sciences, have many things in common as well as their features worth noting. Those types are:

  • Exploratory 
  • Critical 
  • Cumulative 
  • Illustrative 

Check the detailed descriptions of each type below. No worries, writing these papers is easier than it might seem.


Mostly, it is suitable for the preparation stages. If there is the need to collect the data before starting the main research process, an exploratory paper will cut it well. The point is to define the question and required measurement types correctly.

An exploratory study is called to find the answers for such questions as “what” or “who”. The point is to collect the information through multiple methods, including quizzes, experiments, interviews with experts, analysis of the existing sources, etc.

Topic example: Impact of anthropogenic factors on the global warming phenomenon.


The key to finalizing this type of case study project is in the investigation of a source (or multiple ones) to discover a particular situation without generalizing its reasons and outcomes. A critical paper is perfectly suitable if you aim to question some general thought, norm, example, or statement.

In other words, a student concentrates on a single issue and its context without paying any attention to the “higher level” of knowledge and conclusions. Among different types of case studies, this one is the best to prove the existence of exceptions from some widely accepted rules, laws, or concepts. Additionally, such papers can be used to find solutions more suitable for special, unique issues.

Topic example: Special treatment for a patient with the exclusively difficult cerebral palsy form.


Projects of this kind suppose you to accumulate the data from various sources and periods while aiming to conduct in-depth analysis. Then, you generate some conclusions and generalize all the research examples.

Some may call cumulative papers the simplest ones among all types of case studies, but that’s only a part of the truth. Of course, a student doesn’t have to collect the new data on their own here. However, the process of choosing the best and most suitable sources can be equally challenging and require even more preliminary work to be done.

After sources are picked, it’s time for their thorough analysis and comparison. Based on the info gathered and regarding the goal of your cumulative case study, you may either confirm the existing theoretical concepts or generate new outcomes, rules, and conclusions.

Topic example: Guerilla warfare: tactics and concepts.


The goal of illustrative projects is, obviously, to illustrate a phenomenon or event. They also contain the description of a problem along with a solution that is already known. Simply put, they describe something complicated more commonly.

It is crucial to understand that an illustrative case study does not aim to generate new conclusions. It is similar to a “how-to” instruction. This study type requires a student to come up with all the details about the issue, reasons, and decisions made to fix it to receive the wanted result.  

Topic example: The success of a social media marketing campaign by Mercedes Benz in 2013.

Case Study: What’s the Point?

Summing things up, it should be noted that the aim of all types of case studies is different from those based on statistics. The discussed project is directed towards finding new variables every time research is conducted.

Such an investigation method brought multiple scientific results along with unexpected breakthroughs. Along with every project being challenging and requiring a lot of effort, it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting assignments that a student can get.

Yes, crafting any of the types of case study projects is never easy. It is always about gathering a lot of info, contacting other professionals and scientists, and, of course, writing. Still, if you find the right topic, define the goal, and choose the suitable kind of study, crafting an A+ project will become a very exciting experience.