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Resources on Case Study Research and Process Tracing

The videos linked below are materials for a course by Andrew Bennett, Georgetown University, which is intended to enable students to carry out case study research in the social sciences.  While Dr. Bennett is a political scientist, the case study research methods covered in the course are applicable as well to research in economics, sociology, public policy, business, public health, environmental studies, development, program evaluation, and many other fields. The course begins with the philosophy of science that underlies case study research and qualitative research more generally.  It then discusses critiques and justifications of case studies, qualitative concepts and measurement, case study research design, typological theorizing, process tracing, multimethod research, and techniques of field research, including interviews and archival research.  The course also includes student presentations of draft research designs for constructive feedback from fellow students and the instructor, which assists those students who plan to submit a research design paper for course credit.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide a philosophical and methodological justification for their qualitative research, and to address common critiques and misunderstandings of such research.

  2. Understand the comparative strengths and limits of case study research vis-a-vis other research methods, such as statistical analysis of observational data and experiments.

  3. Specify the theoretical concepts in their research projects and develop appropriate measures of these concepts.

  4. Design a case study research project, including: specifying the research question, specifying and measuring the dependent variable and alternative explanations and their independent variables, selecting cases for study, and identifying the observable implications of the alternative explanations, including process tracing tests, and the kinds of evidence to be sought and the ways in which it will be gathered. 

  5. Develop typological theories, or theories that specify combinations of variables and interactions among them.

  6. Carry out both traditional and formal Bayesian process tracing.

  7. Design the case study component of multi-method research projects.

  8. Carry out field research, including interviews and archival research.

Introduction to the case study methods

Professor Andrew Bennett shares content from his Case Study Methods Course in our 19 part YouTube playlist. Watch the introduction video here.


Center for Qualitative and Multi-Method Inquiry
346 Eggers Hall