3.4.7 How to carry out case studies

A case study is an in-depth review of one or more cases in order to gain in-depth understanding of a particular topic, learn about the entire evaluation program, and formulate hypotheses to be tested later.


In complex situations, case studies are a preferred evaluation tool. They allow for a detailed and exhaustive examination through a set of evaluation questions, as well as the collection of detailed qualitative information and the precise description of the context of the implementation. There are six main types of case studies. It is possible to use them in different combinations, if the context allows it: illustrative (or descriptive) case studies; exploratory case studies; critical instance case studies; program implementation case studies; program effects case studies; and cumulative case study.


The European Commission website has a detailed presentation on Case Study Tool. It is exhaustive and provides answers to the following questions: What is a case study? Are there different types of case studies? Why and when are case studies used in evaluations? and how are case studies carried out? The different steps are detailed of case study implementation are described, from preparing and planning to results analysis and reporting.


This website also contains a checklist for quality control.

Key manual/guide Case Study Tool European Commission Website English
  Etude de cas     French
  Estudio de caso     Spanish
Checklists Case study - checklist for evaluator and manager European Commission Website English
  Etude de cas - check-list destinée aux évaluateurs et aux gestionnaires     French
  Estudio de caso - Lista de control para los evaluadores y para los responsables     Spanish
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