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Glossary » anecdotal report

anecdotal report

an example stated in detail to demonstrate a point, often in narrative format. A case study is also a detailed consideration of one example, but in contrast to a case study, an anecdote is often one example selected from many specifically to provide support for a certain point of view.

Anecdotes are not generally very useful as evidence to support design decisions because of a number of likely biases involved. For instance, anecdotes frequently represent extreme cases rather than typical cases. Second-hand anecdotes may suffer distortion. Anecdotes are also generally not a very good way to report results because others can’t be certain how carefully and responsibly they were selected.

Case studies can avoid some of the problems of anecdotal evidence by carefully documenting how specific cases were selected, by establishing careful documentation of how observations are collected and recorded, and by reporting observations in detail, both those that agree with any conclusions drawn and those that disagree.