What Is a Case Study?

When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.

At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.

As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.

Study a Pattern

One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.

Gather Evidence

During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.

Present Findings

As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.

Draw Conclusions

Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.

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In the first lesson of the case study we look at a project proposal for a Java based project. We start by looking at information gathered from the stake holder who we shall call 'Stocking Goods Limited' and how this can be translated into a multi tiered user application fit for purpose.

Project Proposal  Top

Stocking Goods Limited are a wholesaler of general goods that are stocked from various locations around the country. Each day they stock the goods required to fulfill orders from customers invoices. Currently this is achieved by several clerks who tally up invoices and call the various manufacturers who stock the goods required.

As the company has grown and the number of invoices and stock to order has increased, the manual user processes are becoming more error prone and Stocking Goods Limited want a new user system to automate invoice calculation and stock purchasing. They have decided that the invoice calculation processes are more involved and can be deferred to the second phase of automation. For the initial phase of the project they want the stock purchasing side of the business automated.

Information forwarded by Stocking Goods Limited includes the file structure of the Manufacturer data file whose format musn't be changed and an interface that must be implemented without amendments. The reasoning behind this is that another project group are working in tandem on a reporting system and Stocking Goods Limited have provided both projects with the format of a Manufacturer data file and a Stock interface that must be implemented as is.

The project will be written using Java technology only and must implement the following features:

  • "client" - Run the application in non-networked mode so that access to the Manufacturer data file from the GUI runs in the same JVM and doesn't include any networking or serialization of objects.
  • "" (no argument) - Run the application in networked mode so that access to the Manufacturer data file from the GUI runs in a different JVM and includes networking and serialization of objects.
  • "server" - Run the application in server mode with functionality that provides the logic for displaying configurable objects and starting and exiting the server in a safe manner.
  • Search functionality should include the capability to search by name, by location, by name and location or search all records.
  • Stocking orders should only occur once. If the amount entered is wrong the goods will have to be unstocked and the correct stock order reentered.
  • Stocking Goods Limited do not anticipate more than one program having concurrent access to the Manufacturer data file as the reporting system will be run in batch overnight. So our locking only needs to deal with multiple concurrent clients using the server.
  • We write doc comments in HTML and these must precede a class, field, constructor or method declaration. Doc comments are made up of a description followed by block tags which are the names of parameters, return types, pointers etc. (@param, @return, and @see are examples of block tags).

Manufacturer File Format  Top

Stocking Goods Limited have provided us with the format of the Manufacturer data file they want us to use although there is no test file provided. We will have to create a Manufacturer test file ourselves which we do in Create Manufacturer Test File in the next lesson.

Stocking Goods Limited have requested that we create a class representing the record information within the Manufacturer file called unsuprisingly Manufacturer as they see a lot of future reuse of this file and it will also be helpful when implementing the Stock interface.

A Manufacturer object should be a representation of the Manufacturer file record information in an object oriented framework, allowing easy access to fields.

Stock Interface  Top

The following Stock interface will be used in other projects and so must be implemented as is. The interface provides the contract for the CRUD operations for the Manufacturer file as well as templates for the search and locking/unlocking mechanisms.

Stocking Goods Limited have also included doc comments for the interface which are written in HTML and can be turned into a document at a later date using the javadoc tool. As requested by the stakeholder, we will have to also provide doc comments for all class, field, constructor and method declarations.

Proposal Conclusions  Top

After reading through the information supplied to us by Stocking Goods Limited we can draw certain conclusions:

  • We will be using a package called model to store the supplied Stock interface in.
  • We will need to implement the Stock interface and shall call the implementation class StockImpl .
  • A situation might also arise where a user tries to stock goods that have already been stocked by another user and if this happens we will need to throw an exception which we will call StockingException .
  • The Manufacturer file, Stocking Goods Limited have asked us to create, will also go in the model package.
  • We will also be creating a new GUI and will be accessing services locally and also remotely using RMI-JRMP . This scenario fits in well with the MVC pattern and so we will use this pattern for the project.
  • As we are using the MVC pattern we will place all our GUI code into a client package.
  • As we are using RMI-JRMP and will have local and remote services we can place our controller code into services and RemoteServices packages.
  • If we are running in "server" mode we will need to include a Swing panel to automate information gathering for the remote location of the Manufacturer file used as well as a port number. We can then use this information to create and register a remote connection using RMI-JRMP for our remote clients to connect to.
  • We will need to seamlessly connect local or remote clients and therefore will have to include Swing panels to automate information gathering for the location of the Manufacturer file used as well as a port number if we are running remotely. If fact the file information is common to all three run modes so we can use the same Swing panel and include a port number where appropraite.
  • Stocking Goods Limited hava requested functionality to search, stock and unstock the Manufacturer file and these services must be available to local and remote clients.

Lesson 1 Complete

That's it for the Scenario lesson in which we read a project proposal and made some conclusions from it.

Related Java Tutorials

Beginning Java - Primitive Variables Objects & Classes - Class Structure and Syntax Objects & Classes - Methods OO Concepts - Interfaces Exceptions - Declaring Exceptions API Contents - Inheritance - Using the package keyword Swing - Gui Concepts Swing - RMI

What's Next?

In the next lesson we setup up some directories for the project and create a Manufacturer test file.

Java Case Study

Project proposal, manufacturer file format, stock interface, proposal conclusions, model part 1 - exceptions, model part 1 - stock interface, model part 1 - manufacturer request, model part 1 - stock interface impl., view part 1 - design, view part 1 - gui classes, view part 1 - startup, view part 1 - run modes, controller part 1, model part 2, controller part 2 - impl. remote services, controller part 2 - implement services, view part 2 - validate run mode options, view part 2 - server classes, view part 2 - create manufacturer window, testing - model, testing - view, testing - controller, wrap up - javadoc documentation, wrap up - bundling our application, servlets/jsp case study, html/css case study, javascript/jquery case study.

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Part IX Case Studies

Part IX presents case studies that use a variety of Java EE technologies. This part contains the following chapters:

Chapter 51, Duke's Bookstore Case Study Example

Chapter 52, Duke's Tutoring Case Study Example

Chapter 53, Duke's Forest Case Study Example

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