Negative Cases

A negative case is a strategy used especially in qualitative, naturalistic evaluation approaches to develop claims of fact or value that apply to all instances of cases. Data are analyzed iteratively with a working hypothesis or proposition in mind—cases that support the proposition strengthen the proposition; those that do not are called negative cases. The occurrence of a negative case contributes to the development of a more comprehensive proposition, such that all cases can be explained by it. A critical issue is the identification of negative cases that matter and are useful for strengthening the proposition. In evaluation, negative cases may be defined by the context of the evaluation. For example, the experience of every person receiving services matters, and so each is a case—some ...

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