Case Study and Interview in Social Research

The two broad categories of research are qualitative and quantitative methods. These two categories build knowledge and can be used to complement each other. Qualitative research employs methodologies that use inductive processes in a bid to investigate issues, explore ideas, and illustrate interpretations (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). These methodologies are descriptive, explanatory, or exploratory. They enable people to gain insights into human behavior, value systems, motivations, culture, and lifestyles. This gives an understanding of people’s behaviors and factors that determine such behaviors (Houser, 2009). This paper looks at two qualitative research methods, interview and case study, from the point of view represented in two different articles. It uncovers the similarities and differences that are inherent in the two methods.

Article 1: Child Maltreatment in Enlisted Soldiers’ Families during Combat-Related Deployments

The aim of the research was to find out the association between deployment of combatants and child maltreatment in families of deployed combatants in the United States of America (Gibbs et al., 2007). The assumption of the study was to prove that parental stress played a leading role in child maltreatment, which often resulted from the stress associated with deployment of parent soldiers in different areas for peacekeeping. It employed a series of case studies in families with alleged maltreatment of children. The case studies involved 1771 families of US Army soldiers. These families had at least 1 combatant deployed between the months of September 2001 and December 2004.

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Case studies involved detailed investigation of people or groups of people within a locality, so as to understand the topic of study within a natural setting (Houser, 2009). They focus on individuals, not on the whole population, as a homogenous group. In this case, individual parents were the focus of the study, in order to get an in-depth understanding of how and why they mistreat their children. The case studies brought maltreatment into the limelight of the society revealing that 1858 parents in the selected families had maltreated their offspring, sometimes during the course of their lives (Gibbs et al., 2007).

Article 2: Children on the Homefront: The Experience of Children from Military Families

This research aimed at uncovering the stress experienced by children of deployed military soldiers. The study investigated emotional, social, and academic issues of different children from military families (Chandra et al., 2010). For better understanding, the study examined the children as well as their caregivers in regard to the role played by them in the life of the youth. It utilized use of telephone interviews. The interviews, which were computer assisted, involved military children aged 11-17 and non-deployed caregivers. 1507 caregivers gave the investigators an insight into the lives of these children (Chandra et al, 2010). It is worth noting that these caregivers were mainly parents.

A lot of qualitative data comes from conversations with people through interviews (Houser, 2009). In this case, the interviews tapped into the depths of deployment, so as to understand the effects of military deployment on family members. The interviews gave in-depth information regarding the topic under study. They also revealed that children suffered from emotional problems. Specifically, girls from the defined age group and older reported for difficulties in interactions within the family, at school, as well as with their peers. Long deployment and mental disturbance of caregivers influenced the recorded challenges.

Comparison of the Two Research Methods

The two methods sought to investigate similar topics in two related studies; effects of military deployment on the families of the deployed officers. Another similarity is that the two qualitative research methods emerged with in-depth information of the topic of study. It was cumbersome for the investigators of the study to collect data since it required a lot of time. In case studies, investigation of two secondary sources took a long time span. In the case of interviews, information from some targets had to be gathered by use of more than one interview.

Differences between the two research methods are exceptionally clear. They can be identified from sources of information, time spent while doing the study, as well as the possibility of empathy. The case studies used secondary sources of information, whereas the interviews depended on primary data. Interviews took more time than case studies due to the mode of data collection. Moreover, the interviewers could easily empathize with the interviewees due to availability of first-hand information, whereas in the case studies, the secondary information was the key focus. However, interviews could emerge with the wrong data because indirect conversation, over the phone, was used. Eye contact is an essential aspect in data collection; it can help a researcher to identify a person who is lying. Since the investigators employed the use of telephone interviews, this could not be easily identified. Thus, some information may be lacking or exaggerated.

In the case studies, there was no primary data collected; secondary sources gave the investigators the data that they required. Two secondary sources, the Army Central Registry and Army human resources data, provided the required information. In such a case, the investigators cannot claim full validity and reliability of the data since they did not conduct a primary research. Furthermore, they did not get an insight into maltreatment presented in combat families from first-hand information. Therefore, it is hard for them to empathize with the maltreated children.


Chandra, A., Lara-Cinisomo, S., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Burns, R. M., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2010). Children on the Homefront: The Experience of Children from Military families. Pediatrics, 125, 16-25.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2011). The SAGE Handbook of qualitative research (4th Ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Gibbs, D.A., Martin, S.L., Kupper, L.L., & Johnson, R.E. (2007). Child Maltreatment in Enlisted Soldiers’ Families during Combat-Related Deployments. Journal of the American Medical Association, 298 (5), 528-535.

Houser, R. (2009). Counseling and Educational Research: Evaluation and Application (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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