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ScienceDirectUsing case study in library researchAuthor links open overlay panelLawrenceStenhouseAbstractAn examination of the case study approach which combines conceptual clarification with a pragmatic discussion of technique. The author sees the emergence of the case study as a consequence of the difficulties of applying the methodology of the sciences to problems ‘in which human behaviour, action or intention play a large part’. History, ethnography and particularly educational research are shown to offer models and insights into the case study tradition. The author has recently embarked upon a project which uses multi-site case studies to examine sixth formers' capacity for independent, library-based work, and he uses this as a framework for discussion of the questions to be considered by those contemplating research of this kind. He considers three main sources of information (interviews, documents and observation), their integration into case records; and narrative, vignette and analysis as alternative methods of reporting. He draws attention to the agonies of ‘writing-up’, and sees it as crucial to find forms of presentation conducive to a critical reaction on the part of the reader ‘rather than a willing suspension of disbelief’.