Peter Swanborn, born in Heerlen, the Netherlands, in 1935. Ph.D. from Utrecht University. Professor of Methodology at the University of Amsterdam.
Fellow (1 September 1996 – 30 June 1997)
During my stay at NIAS my work concentrated on two topics:
finishing a book on case study research in the social sciences;
designing and writing a book on evaluation research methods. I started writing this first book at the beginning of 1996; when I came to NIAS about seventy per cent of the book was complete. The NIAS facilities enabled me to finish it.
With respect to the specific contributions of NIAS to my research work: apart from the technical facilities of library and documentation and the personal contacts with my colleague Piet Verschuren and several sociology fellows, I very much appreciate the opportunity and challenge to concentrate on a topic; being mentally busy on one thing for a long undisturbed day. Besides, one of the perhaps unintended but pleasant aspects of NIAS for me is browsing in the library through the piles of literature ordered by other fellows; finding interesting books or articles, sometimes in fields quite distinct from your own.
Case studies constitute one of the traditional methods of research in the social and behavioral sciences, and are often contrasted with survey research in terms of an intensive versus an extensive style of research. In my book – which was published in Dutch under the title Case study’s: wat, wanneer en hoe? (Amsterdam, 1997) [Case studies: What, When and How?] – several frequently discussed questions about the methodology of case studies are tackled.
The second book was planned as a first general introduction on the topic for a Dutch-speaking public of social scientists, students and staff employees engaged in or concerned with policy research. Evaluation research is momentarily perhaps the most frequently used form of research in policy domains. The focus is on cross-fertilisation of methods knowledge in different substantial fields, such as public health; employment; housing; education.
About seventy-five per cent of the book was written during my NIAS stay. I plan to finish the book at the end of 1997, and have it published in the beginning of 1998.