Case studies: A security science research methodology

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


secau Security Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Security Science / Security Research Centre (secAU)




Bailey, B. (2011). Case studies: A security science research methodology. Paper presented at the 4th Australian Security and Intelligence Conference, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia. Available here


As a relatively new discipline Security Science is searching for academic acceptance very often combining established hard science approaches with those of Social Science and Humanities. Methodologies need to be developed to equip the discipline to conduct more varied research. One such method is the use of the case study approach, as it allows multiple inputs from a variety of sources to build up the research into a central review, allowing conclusions and recommendations to be drawn from the data. Though relatively common in the business world for conducting reports, this has not hitherto been the position in academia The objective of this speculative paper develops a process used for research and seeks to open a debate as to the importance of case studies in the security field; the paper argues that it is an underutilised research paradigm. The merits of using the case study structure will be discussed, including the debate over positivism and constructivism, which will then lead on to a potential analytical method called Interpretative Phenomological Analysis (IPA); used predominately in ethnographical studies. The importance of using a pilot study before proceeding to the full study is also suggested to avoid costly mistakes later in the research.



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