Theories from case studies in software engineering and information systems research

Schedule and location

Tuesday November 3rd - Wednesday November 4th

TUAS building, Room 1171-1172, visiting address: Otaniementie 17, Espoo
Building number 37 on Otaniemi campus map:


Registration has ended.


Professor Roel Wieringa, University of Twente, Netherlands


Research fellow Sari Kujala, Aalto University, Finland.


Empirical research methods are in widespread use in information systems and software engineering research. Broadly, there are two classes of empirical research methods, case-based methods in which the researcher studies single cases, and sample-based methods, in which the researcher studies samples selected from a population. In this tutorial I will treat case-based methods, using examples from information systems and software engineering research. We will look at the role of case study research in the engineering cycle, and discuss the structure and role of scientific theories in case study research. We will spend considerable attention to case-based inference to provide evidence for or against scientific theories. Participants will be able to apply the concepts and techniques treated in practice.

Detailed Program

Day 1

9:00 What is a case study
    • Examples
    • Case-based versus sample-based research
    • Types of case study: observational case studies, case-based experiments, action research
10:30 Break
10:45 When to use case studies
    •  Engineering cycle
    •  Problem investigation
    • Technology validation
12:15 Lunch
13:45 Scientific theories
    • Conceptual frameworks
    • Architectural and statistical structures
    • Functions of conceptual frameworks
    • The structure of theories
    • Functions of scientific theories: explanation and prediction
15:15 Break
15:30 Assignments and discussion
17:00 end of day 1
Day 2

9:00 The empirical research cycle
    • Research context
    • Research problem
    • Research setup
    • Inference design
    • Execution
    • Data analysis
10:30 Break
10:45 Case-based inference
    • Case-based versus sample-based inference
    • Descriptive inference
    • Abductive inference:  Causal, architectural and rational explanations
    • analogic inference and analytical induction
12:15 Lunch
13:45 Assignments and discussion
15:15 Break
15:30 Assignments, discusssion, wrapup
17:00 end of day 2

Credit points

Doctoral students participating in the seminar can obtain 2 credit points. This requires participating on all of the days and completing the assignments given at the seminar.


There will be a handout with the slides.

Preparatory reading

Recommended reading


    • Assignments and discussion during the tutorial
    • Homework after the tutorial

Registration fee

This seminar is free-of-charge for member organization's staff and their PhD students. For others the participation fee is 750 €. The participation fee includes access to the event and the event materials. Lunch and dinner are not included.