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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderObservation and interviewing
View the documentCase studies
View the documentField observation
View the documentIn-depth interviews
View the documentInterviewing
View the documentParticipant observation
View the documentParticipative technology analysis
View the documentSurveys

Case studies


A comprehensive, in-depth investigation of a situation, a sequence of activities, or a procedure within its natural setting.


To understand a situation, a sequence of activities, or a procedure to learn what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.




Tape recorder end microphone


Still camera

Interview guide

Video camera and accessories

Observation guide

Possible approach

1 Identify topic or focus—what you want to study.

2 Design the study

- Select the appropriate social unit. Will you study the individual, group, institution, process, activity, or system?

- Decide whether you will study a single case—one person, group, institution, or process—or a multiple case—two or more persons, groups, etc.

- Choose what you want to find out and how to observe and measure it.

- Select the site or sites for study.

- Set a timetable for gathering field data.

3 Prepare an observation guide—a list of things to observe—and an interview guide—questions to ask.

4 Seek cooperation from people on site in advance.

5 Gather information by interviewing people or by observing and using other methods described in this manual.

6 Record the information in a notebook, field diary, or logbook. Do this daily or according to a set schedule. You might find a tape recorder and camera useful for recording data.

7 Validate or cross-check the information through multiple sources. For instance, get information from several informants, or check findings with published documents or maps, or by measuring them directly.

8 Analyze the information.

- Identify themes, variables which are related.
- Look for strong evidence or corroboration.
- Rule out competing explanations.

9 Validate findings with the informants or other community members.

10 Prepare a report.

- Make sure that there is a narrative flow—an easily understandable pattern or progression. For instance, you could describe how things began, what led to what, and how events are linked.

11 Give a copy of the case study to the community.


Case studies

- are useful in investigating processes, such as documenting an activity from first to last step (e.g., rice production from land preparation to harvesting and processing).

- can be used to investigate changes over time (e.g., changes in farm practices from Year 1 to Year 5).

- are typically participatory and involve experential learning—they can lead to exchange of information between the researcher and the participants.

- emphasize the insider's perspective over the outsider's perspective.

Compiled by Perpetuo C. Librando and Eblas L. Blancas Sources: Bennett 1983 Yin 1984