Differentiate case studies from focus group discussions.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Case studies in social science research involve examining individuals or groups over time and in multiple ways to understand that person or group in deep ways. A case study can investigate the ways in which individuals or groups understand or deal with conflicts or other issues, and this method can produce rich qualitative data that result from direct and indirect observations, interviews, and use of tests and written records. Focus groups, on the other hand, involve gathering a group at one time to ask them questions about their attitudes or opinions. In this format, members are usually only observed once, unlike in case studies, and the data that result are less rich. In addition, focus group members can often interact with each other, so the result of the focus group is in part a result of this interaction. Focus groups do not generally concentrate on the experiences of the individual in a very descriptive way as case studies do; instead, focus groups aim to understand the ways in which people or group feel about an event, product, experience, or other issue.