Welcome to our database. The Cross-Case Comparisons and Contrasts or Foresee (4C) database is an actively funded research endeavor begun by Drs. Samia Khan and Rob VanWynsberghe of the Faculty of Education at UBC and developed by Vanesa Mirzaee of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at UBC. Since 2003, we have been conceptualizing, designing and developing this database to foster a collective activity of cross-case analysis. Cross-case analysis is the comparison of multiple case studies. Through comparison, cross-case analysis facilitates the emergence of new understandings among discrete case study research projects. Cross-case analysis also has the potential to amplify the analytical power of the single case by exploring how commonalities of processes and structure can exist despite the appearance of difference in events, activities, and phenomenon.
4C's development concluded in 2007; however, we have maintained the site in its original form so that visitors can continue to view its pages and interact with cases. If you are interested in the further development of this database, please contact us.
To build common ground and support the growth of an online community of case study researchers, the 4C database offers a cluster of submitted case studies with a suite of comparison tools to perform cross-case analysis. With the 4C database, case study researchers also have opportunities to engage in multi-way dialogue. Researcher membership in our password-protected database is by request to our UBC site manager.
Within the 4C database, 4C members can aggregate their condensed and analyzed single case studies in a centralized online location. This centralized location is an online library public to 4C members only. 4C members enter cases into seven case categories: title, focus of study, purpose, key concepts, research tools, what was learned, and related studies. The names of the categories were constructed based on a user study in 2004, and they are our attempt to establish common ground among the 4C collective. The seven case categories are also congruent with most primary journal publishing requirements.
The 4C database is unique from other case study repositories in that it offers support for performing cross-case analysis. Firstly, 4C members can view the collection of submitted and archived case studies as a "list" or as a "meta- matrix" view. Clustering the cases in such a central visual display makes possible what Miles and Huberman call the "first deep dive" into cross-case analysis; that is, researchers can scroll through the meta-matrix, look across rows or down columns, and perform a squint analysis. A squint analysis of the cases provides 4C members with a visual opportunity to scan cases for comparison. Secondly, 4C members can then search the database and select candidate cases for comparison by employing the search functions. Cases can be searched by case categories' content, authors' name, the researcher who recommended cases and by title. Thirdly, once cases have been selected for comparison, 4C members have access to two methods for cross case analysis that build conceptual and conjunctive relationships among cases. Comparing cases is accomplished by a suite of comparison tools that permit: 1) building relationships across cases using Boolean terms and 2) coding multiple cases with tags (see Conceptual and Conjunctive Relationships under Special Features). Fourthly, the database fosters dialogue among case study researchers with public annotations of case studies and a multi-way dialogue forum. Fifthly, the database affords researchers with an opportunity to publish their cross-case comparisons.
All registered 4C members of the database will have the following: 1) access to all case studies; 2) views of personalized tags attached to individual case studies; 3) the power to navigate and search for case study content by user, tag(s), case categories, or any combination of these, and 4) an opportunity to build a personal library of cases. The personal benefits of engaging in cross-case analysis with the 4C database can include: guidance from a research infrastructure that scaffolds the cross-case analysis process, discovery of new case studies and ability to form personal libraries, learning how different cases are relevant and significant to your work, and mobilization of your case study research.
Our vision of the research cycle with the 4C database includes publication of an online journal where quarterly volumes present case studies of interest on a common issue or problem. The 4C database facilitates collaboration amongst case study researchers from different disciplines and allows them to create communities of interest. The 4C database has the capacity to create publishable volumes by identifying journal content of interest from: archived dialogue, annotations of cases by 4C members, recommended cases and popularity of tags. We anticipate that journals would include 4C member case studies and their cross-case analyses on topics of interest.
The 4C database is a 'research infrastructure' that facilitates learning from discrete cases. Case studies are represented, translated, and mobilized by 4C members. The database is a practical move to synthesize, explicate, and bring into greater service the knowledge from case studies.
Collective Capacity. 4C members contribute cases to a collective case study archive. The cases are indexed chronologically and by tags of all 4C members. Researchers can gain access to cases from a wide range of disciplines that are condensed in a common format by case categories. The collective capacity to perform cross-case analysis is amplified with the public archiving of researchers' cases, tags, and notes that the researcher wishes to make public. Researchers can discuss cases with other researchers and explore research connections through contact information.
User-friendly interface. The 4C database is adaptable enough so that it can be used in highly trans-disciplinary contexts, fostering dialogue among researchers interested in the translation of knowledge.
Personalization of database. Researchers are able to build their own personal library of cases suitable for work on contained research projects within the same knowledge domain. Researchers can also construct personal notes on each case and submit works in progress. Researchers are able to create their own tags for cases that are different or the same as the authors' tags.
Visual Display. The 4C database offers a visual display to view the studies as a "meta- matrix" where each study's text is structured and indexed into separate fields or case categories. All the studies can be seen stacked on top of one another and all of the case categories are visible on one standard display. A structured visual display facilitates comparisons and contrasts among a set of case studies.
Uploading capacity. The 4C database allows researchers to contribute multimedia data (including texts, links, images and videos) to fields of interest and explore other cases.
Advanced search tools. The 4C database allows a researcher to quickly and easily find patterns across database by comparing and contrasting the same case categories in different studies. To facilitate this the 4C database provide researchers with Boolean search (and, or, not) functionality on the content of the entire case study archive. It also allows 4C members to parse through tag lists and find relevant case studies.
Conceptual and Conjunctive Relationships. The 4C database helps researchers to build conceptual relationships by comparing case studies and using tags to code these comparisons. Tags are personal, adaptable, and descriptive terms that can be applied to a body of information as metadata. The process of classifying information about information (eg. Metadata) to describe content is called "tagging". For example, a researcher can apply the tag "media" to his or her case study data on public anti-smoking advertisements. Another researcher could access the same case study in the 4C database and employ the same tag media or a different tag of their choice such as "advertisements".
Associative Navigation. The database enables the researcher to view, navigate, and subscribe to all indexed content by researchers' tag(s). In addition, the user is also able to see all the tags that have been applied by all the researchers to the listed study. Furthermore, the popularity of tags for a case study are automatically available to the case study researcher. One researcher can compare their tags to another researcher's or a host of researchers to learn about the kinds of terms that are applied to a chunk of information.
Tutorials and support. The 4C database offers tutorials (to view tutorials click here) on how to use the database plus support on how to conduct cross-case analysis. We scaffold the process of cross-case analysis for researchers by: suggesting a flow of knowledge mobilization in the research cycle, providing icons to ease navigation through the process of cross-case analysis, and by offering contacts to site administrators and other case study researchers.
There are a number of comparative research designs and analytic techniques reported in the social science research literature.
After an extensive review, we've distilled these methods into five essential steps of cross-case analysis represented by the
The database scaffolds this flow of knowledge: Researchers are able to select, search, and compare case studies on the site from virtually every page on the site. The functionality is distributed in this regard; researcher's can jumpstart and complete a substantial part of their research cycle from a single web page or within just a few clicks.
Freely Available and Accessible. The 4C database is freely available and accessible to registered users.
The 4C project gratefully acknowledges the programming support of Dr. Lee Iverson and Vanesa Mirzaee of the Faculty of Electrical and Computing Engineering, UBC. The 4C Project has received financial support from the Rex Boughton Foundation and the Learning Technologies Fund of the Faculty of Education at UBC.