Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments
- Annotated Bibliography
- Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
- Group Presentations
- Dealing with Nervousness
- Using Visual Aids
- Grading Someone Else's Paper
- Types of Structured Group Activities
- Group Project Survival Skills
- Leading a Class Discussion
- Multiple Book Review Essay
- Reviewing Collected Works
- Writing a Case Analysis Paper
- Writing a Case Study
- About Informed Consent
- Writing Field Notes
- Writing a Policy Memo
- Writing a Reflective Paper
- Writing a Research Proposal
- Generative AI and Writing
A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.
Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.
How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper
General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.
However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:
- The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
- The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
- The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
- The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
- The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].
Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.
Structure and Writing Style
The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.
In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.
As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:
- What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
- Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
- What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
- How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.
Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.
II. Literature Review
The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:
- Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
- Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
- Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
- Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
- Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
- Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
- Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.
In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.
If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.
If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].
If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].
If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.
NOTE: The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.
The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:
Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.
Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.
Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.
Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.
Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .
Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.
As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.
The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.
Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:
- If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
- If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
- Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.
Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.
Problems to Avoid
Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.
Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.
Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.
Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009; Kratochwill, Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education . Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.
At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research
Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:
Misunderstanding 1 : General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 : One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 : The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 : The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 : It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].
While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.
Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.
- << Previous: Writing a Case Analysis Paper
- Next: Writing a Field Report >>
- Last Updated: Sep 15, 2023 9:37 AM
- URL: https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/assignments
All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study
What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.
What Is a Case Study?
A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.
What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?
While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.
Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.
The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.
Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:
Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.
Types of Case Studies
The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:
- Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
- Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
- Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
- Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
- Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.
Need a compelling case study? EssayPro has got you covered. Our experts are ready to provide you with detailed, insightful case studies that capture the essence of real-world scenarios. Elevate your academic work with our professional assistance.
Case Study Format
The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:
- Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
- Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
- Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
- Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
- Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
- Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
- References. Provide all the citations.
How to Write a Case Study
Let's discover how to write a case study.
Setting Up the Research
When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:
- Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
- Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
- Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
- Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
- Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.
Read Also: 'CREDIBLE SOURCES: WHAT ARE THEY?'
Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:
- Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
- Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
- Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
- Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
- Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
- Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
- Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
- Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.
Need Case Study DONE FAST?
Pick a topic, tell us your requirements and get your paper on time.
Case Study Outline
Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.
- Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
- Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
- Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
- Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
- Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
- Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
- Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
- Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
- Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
- Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
- Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
- Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.
Writing a Case Study Draft
After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:
- Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
- In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
- Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
- Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
- At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.
Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study
Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :
With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.
Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.
Finalizing the Draft: Checklist
After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:
- Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
- Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
- Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
- Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?
Problems to avoid:
- Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
- Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
- Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.
You can always buy an essay on our site. Just leave a request ' do my homework ' and we'll help asap.
How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study
Let's see how to create an awesome title page.
Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:
- A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
- The title should have the words “case study” in it
- The title should range between 5-9 words in length
- Your name and contact information
- Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.
Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:
There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.
Citation Example in MLA Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.
Case Study Examples
To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.
Eastman Kodak Case Study
Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany
To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .
Get Help Form Qualified Writers
Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.
Don't Know Where to Start?
Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our writing service.
- Monash Online
Student Academic Success
- 1:1 Consultation 1:1 Consultation
- Study better Study better
- Build digital capabilities Build digital capabilities
- Understand assessments Understand assessments
- Excel at writing Excel at writing
- Enhance your thinking Enhance your thinking
- Present confidently Present confidently
- Collaborate with others Collaborate with others
- Improve your academic English Improve your academic English
- Maintain academic integrity Maintain academic integrity
- Advance your graduate studies Advance your graduate studies
- Workshops Workshops
- Feedback studio Feedback studio
- About us About us
- Skip to content
- Skip to navigation
Writing a case study
What is a case study.
A case study requires you to analyse a specific situation and discuss how its different elements relate to theory. The case can refer to a real-life or hypothetical event, organisation, individual or group of people and/or issue. Depending upon your assignment, you will be asked to develop solutions to problems or recommendations for future action.
Generally, a case study is either formatted as an essay or a report. If it is the latter, your assignment is often divided into sections with headings and subheadings to ensure easy access to key points of interest.
There are different approaches to case studies, so always check the specific instructions you have been given. There are two main types of case studies: descriptive and problem-solving .
Case study types accordion
Descriptive case studies.
- ask you to explore a specific event or issue to identify the key facts, what happened and who was/is involved.
- can be used to compare two instances of an event to illustrate how one is similar to the other.
- generally does not include solutions or recommendations as its main purpose is to help the reader or stakeholder to gain greater insight into the different dimensions of the event, etc. and/or to make an informed decision about the event, etc.
- In Nursing, you could be asked to select a medical clinic or hospital as your case study and then apply what you have studied in class about wound care approaches. You would then identify and apply the relevant theories of wound care management discussed in class to your case.
Problem-solving case studies
- ask you to critically examine an issue related to a specific individual or group, and then recommend and justify solutions to the issue, integrating theory and practice.
- In Business and Economics, you could be asked to describe a critical incident in the workplace. Your role as the manager is to apply your knowledge and skills of key intercultural communication concepts and theories in management to determine the causes of the conflict and propose relevant communication strategies to avoid and/or resolve it.
Tips for undertaking a problem-based case study View
Writing to your audience.
Your language expression should be persuasive and user-centred communication. To do this, you need to carefully research your audience, or your stakeholders . Your stakeholders are not only those people who will read your writing, but also people who will be impacted by any decisions or recommendations you choose to include. In other words, your audience may be varied with different needs and perspectives. This applies to both your case study as an assessment task and a report in your workplace.
Understanding your audience will help you to edit how you express your information, including tailoring your language expression, tone and style to meet the expectations of your stakeholders. For example, if your case study is written for the Minister of Health, then your tone will need to be formal, ensuring that any technical terms are clearly and concisely explained with concrete examples.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Who will read my case study and why?
- What are the stakeholders’ needs, preferences, expectations and goals?
- How can I write clearly and concisely for this particular audience?
- How will the stakeholders use my case study in their work?
- What are the relevant technical terms and have I explained them in clear and concise language?
Writing up your case study
If your case study is in the form of a report, you can divide it into 8 main sections, as outlined below. However, these vary depending on discipline-specific requirements and assessment criteria.
1. Executive Summary/Synopsis
- Introduce the topic area of the report.
- Outline the purpose of the case study.
- Outline the key issue(s) and finding(s) without the specific details.
- Identify the theory used.
- Summarise recommendations.
- Summarise the your task
- Briefly outline the case to identify its significance.
- State the report's aim(s).
- Provide the organisation of the main ideas in the report.
- Briefly describe the key problem and its significance (You usually do not need to provide details of findings or recommendations. However, it is best to first check your assessment task instructions.)
- presenting the central issue(s) under analysis,
- providing your reasoning for your choices such as supporting your findings with facts given in the case, the relevant theory and course concepts
- highlighting any underlying problems.
- Identify and justify your methodology and analytical tools.This might not be applicable to your assessment, so you will need to check your assessment instructions.
This section is often divided into sub-sections. Your headings and subheadings need to be informative and concise as they act as a guide for the reader to the contents of that section.
- Summarise the major problem(s).
- Identify alternative solutions to these major problem(s).
- Briefly outline each alternative solution where necessary and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages.
- Depending on your assessment criteria, you might need to refer to theory or professional practice here.
Note that as a case study is based on a specific situation, it is difficult to generalise your findings to other situations. Make sure that your discussion focuses on your case and what can be learnt from your specific case analysis for your stakeholders.
- Restate the purpose of the report
- Sum up the main points from the findings, discussion and recommendations.
- Restate the limitations if required.
- Choose which of the alternative solutions should be adopted.
- Briefly justify your choice, explaining how it will solve the major problem/s.
- Remember to integrate theory and practice as discussed in your unit with respect to the case.
- If needed, suggest an action plan, including who should take action, when and what steps, and how to assess the action taken.
- If appropriate include a rough estimate of costs (both financial and time).
This section is sometimes divided into Recommendations and Implementation with details of the action plan placed in the Implementation section.
Recommendations should be written in a persuasive, audience-centred style that communicates your suggestions clearly, concisely and precisely .
- List in alphabetical order all the references cited in the report.
- Make sure to accurately format your references according to the specified referencing style for your unit.
8. Appendices (if any)
- Attach any original data that relates to your analysis and the case but which would have interrupted the flow of the main body.
Ivančević-Otanjac, M., & Milojević, I. (2015). Writing a case report in English. Srpski arhiv za celokupno lekarstvo , 143 (1-2), 116-118.
Take it further
Buseco: report writing.
This resource is designed to assist you in completing a business report. It provides a guide to approaching and structuring your report and includes annotated examples with written feedback.
Engineering: Lab report
This resource expands on the general report structure and provides useful tips and examples on how to turn practical work and lab experiments into a written lab report.
Engineering: Technical report
This resource expands on the general report structure and provides useful tips and examples on how to write a report for key stakeholders, using experimental and practical data.
This resource provides information about what reports look like in IT, and how you might consider structuring your IT report. It includes student samples for each possible section of an IT report, along with video and written feedback.
MNHS: Health sciences case report
This resource provides a guide to approaching and structuring a patient-based case report. It includes an annotated example with written feedback.
MNHS: Comparative report
This resource is designed to assist you in completing your Comparative Report [CR] for Integrating Science and Practice [iSAP] assessment tasks. It provides a guide to approaching and structuring your report and includes an annotated example with written feedback.
MNHS: Psychology case report
This resource provides detailed guidance on the structure and content of the psychology case report, with numerous examples from the recommended reading.
Science: Lab report
Your feedback matters.
We want to hear from you! Let us know what you found most useful or share your suggestions for improving this resource.
Have a language expert improve your writing
Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.
- Knowledge Base
- What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods
What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods
Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.
A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.
A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .
Table of contents
When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.
A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.
Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.
You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.
Here's why students love Scribbr's proofreading services
Discover proofreading & editing
Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:
- Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
- Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
- Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
- Open up new directions for future research
TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.
Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.
Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.
However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.
Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.
While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:
- Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
- Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
- Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions
To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.
There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.
Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.
The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.
Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.
In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.
How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .
Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).
In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.
If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.
- Normal distribution
- Degrees of freedom
- Null hypothesis
- Discourse analysis
- Control groups
- Mixed methods research
- Non-probability sampling
- Quantitative research
- Ecological validity
- Rosenthal effect
- Implicit bias
- Cognitive bias
- Selection bias
- Negativity bias
- Status quo bias
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
McCombes, S. (2023, November 20). What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods. Scribbr. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/case-study/
Is this article helpful?
Other students also liked, primary vs. secondary sources | difference & examples, what is a theoretical framework | guide to organizing, what is action research | definition & examples, what is your plagiarism score.
How to Write a Case Study Paper: 15 Easy Steps
Learning how to write a case study paper is invaluable in both business and academic settings. This writing guide will help.
A case study is a particular type of paper that involves researching a problem, often using an experiment or survey, and providing potential solutions from that research. It is an in-depth look at one particular research problem, looking at it from different angles and aspects.
Case studies are appropriate in several settings. These include:
- Business analytics
- Educational settings
- Clinical settings
- Social research
In a case study, you will use quantitative data and qualitative research methods to conclude a particular problem. You will describe, compare, evaluate and understand the problem, then present your findings to the reader. Above all, you will study and research a real-world subject or problem.
Step 1: choose your case, step 2: know the format, step 3: set up your research, step 4: write the introduction, step 5: state the background, step 6: perform case study analysis, step 7: present your arguments, step 8: conclude the case study, step 9: include headings, step 10: cite your references, step 11: draft a title page and abstract, step 12: check for serious problems, step 13: look at case study examples, step 14: include graphs, appendices, and additional information, step 15: edit your case study, what is a case study paper, what is the difference between a case study and a research paper, what are the different types of case studies.
- A problem to research
- Research material
- Survey participants
- Pencil or Pen
Before writing a case study, you must choose a case to study. You will want to choose a problem with several features. First, you want something to which you can contribute new or unexpected insights. If a topic or case has been researched extensively, it may not be a good candidate. There may not be anything new you can bring to the discussion. You can also select a case that you can challenge the long-standing view.
For example, if society has accepted that something is normal and healthy, but you have new research that indicates it may not be, then you can use that for your case study. Finally, a good case study candidate is a topic that could potentially open new lines of research in the future. By contributing new information, you can be part of that research. Above all, choose a topic that has a problem that can be resolved through your research.
A typical case study paper is made up of eight parts. These are:
- Executive summary or introduction
- Case evaluation
- Proposed solutions
Each of these must be included for the case study to be complete.
You must first do research when writing a case study paper. You will need to read sources and analyze data on the case you are writing about. This can take a lot of time. Therefore, be sure to follow the correct research process, which involves:
- Know your objective: This is the reason why you are studying this particular case.
- Choose candidates: If your case involves people or interviewing people, choose your candidates and get their permission.
- Gather credible sources: Get a list of credible sources, whether they are printed resources or people you can interview. You will want to tap into these as you start the writing process.
- Choose some key issues: You may find that your case has more than one potential problem. Focus on a few key issues that you can study in your case study paper.
- Research those issues: This will take the majority of your time. Case study papers require a lot of background information to write well. Therefore, it would be best if you devoted much time to research.
As you research, take meticulous notes. These will be invaluable when the time comes to write.
Now that you have done some preliminary research, you are ready to write your introduction. This has a specific case study format to follow:
- State the issue: Social media has a directly negative effect on young teenagers.
- Present the problem: Using social media more than three times a day predicts poor mental health and well-being in teenagers between 13 and 16, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety.
- Explain your terms: Social media involves social websites, including Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and many others.
- State your hypothesis or thesis statement: Decreasing social media use can help teens reduce their mental health concerns.
- Reiterate the importance: In this case study, we will look at social media use data and how reducing it improves teen mental health.
The introduction sets the pace for the case study report. It can include a quote from an interview or a particularly startling statistic. You will also indicate the aim of your case study in this section of the paper. Sometimes an introduction is called an executive summary. This does not change the information it contains. It just changes the name.
Now you are ready to start the body of the paper. The first body paragraph will include background information. Why did you choose to do a case study on this topic? What is its impact on the reader? For example, for a study of social media and teens, the background information section could discuss both the benefits and drawbacks of social media use. Then, tap into real-life examples and statistics showing how social media can positively and negatively impact.
For example, discuss increasing rates of depression in teens and how they mirror increasing social media use statistics. Along with your background information, you will want to tell the reader why you chose to do the case study. For example, what is the problem you hope to solve or the information you hope to glean from your work? You might also be interested in learning how to check similarity between two texts .
A significant part of the body of your case study is the analysis of your research and the survey or other experimentation you did. Some things to include in this section may be:
- Selection criteria for survey or group of people who serve as participants
- Research criteria if you are researching a historical event
- Structure of any interviews or tests performed
- Outcomes or results
- Your analysis of those outcomes and results
In this section, carefully describe your research process. The reader needs to know how you found the data you are presenting. If there are real-world implications to the problem you are researching, then you need to discuss this.
Now you are ready to present your argument based on the background information and the data you have given. You need three strong arguments. These must be backed by statistical proof or proof from your survey and research.
In the example of the social media and teens question, you would look at your survey results. Your key points and arguments may be:
- Teens that spent three hours or more a day on social media were 3x as likely to report depression symptoms.
- Teens that had limited social media had minimal incidents of anxiety.
- Teens with a balanced approach to social media or no social media access only reported depression and anxiety symptoms 20% of the time.
These points must b backed by data. If you do not use data, they will be weak. For example:
- Teens that spent three hours or more a day on social media were 3x as likely to report depression symptoms (with data)
- Teens that spend a lot of time on social media daily suffer from depression. (without data)
The more sources, either from research or your work, to back up your points, the stronger your overall case study paper will be. If there is a similar case study already out there, weave it into your body paragraphs. Show similar research findings that help support your conclusion. You might also find our explainer on how to write a hypothesis useful.
The conclusion is an essential part of the case study as well. You will need to make a concluding statement that wraps up the study. It might read like this:
- I have researched social media use in young teenagers and found that too much social media, especially three or more hours a day, increases the risk of depression and anxiety.
Then you will need to list some recommendations people can take with this information. For example:
- Parents and teachers must encourage teenagers to find other ways to spend their time. Open discussions about social media and its effect on mental health are also important. Parents can help their teens by modeling balanced social media use for themselves.
Make the conclusion practical, and show why your case study helps land on possible solutions to the problem. For example, if your research and work came up with one best-case scenario, present it as the best solution.
A case study often includes headings to break up the data and help the reader find the necessary information. In the social media and teens case study, you may have headings that read:
- Benefits of Social Media
- Drawbacks of Social Media
- Survey and Research Methods
- Survey Analysis
If you feel there is future research that your case study would warrant, then include a section on Directions for Future Research. If you felt there were any specific limitations on your research and a section on Limitations.
References are essential in any case study template. Here, you will need to cite them according to the style guide assigned to the paper. Whether you use MLA, Chicago style, or APA format, structure your references accordingly. Reference any research that you did not perform yourself. Use in-text citations and a references page at the end to give proper credit to past researchers and avoid any risk of plagiarism.
Most of the time, a case study paper will have a title page. It may also have an abstract. The title page will share the title of the case study and list the names of all researchers involved. The title should have the words “case study” and be five to nine words long. Include your contact information on this page. You may also include submission or publication dates. Follow the style guide for your writing assignment. The abstract will identify the purpose of the case study, summarize the research methods, and provide a summary of the results and the conclusions drawn. Think of it as a preview of the paper.
There are specific problems that can come up in a case study. If you are going to publish your case study, make sure you did not fall victim to any of these:
- Overgeneralization: Do not make generalized assumptions about the problem that do not tie directly to your research. Stick to the facts and the problem defined in your thesis statement.
- Ignoring limitations: All research has limitations. In case study writing, you must include these.
- Not looking at all implications: While you don’t want to overgeneralize, you also don’t want to ignore important case study findings to your audience. Carefully analyze your case study research and pull out all possible implications.
- Writing the wrong length: Most case studies will be between 500 and 1,500 words long.
The best way to ensure you are writing a good case study is to look at some examples. Here are some published case studies you can compare yours to:
- Business case study: AdEspresso GlobeIn Case Study
- Business case study: CoSchedule UofSC Alumni Highlight
- Historical Case Study: Methods of Analysis from University of British Columbia
Study these examples and learn how the researchers present information in the case study format.
Finally, consider if your case study needs any additional information. For example, would a graph or infographic of your data help the reader? Would an appendix that outlines your research in more detail add value? You can add these features to your case study to help make your main points stick with the reader. Then, weave them in where appropriate to the writing.
Before publishing your case study, take some time to edit it. But, first, go through this checklist for a thorough edit:
- Check the format: Make sure you follow the format for a case study with the four main parts.
- Check for consistency: Is your work consistent in wording, referencing, and citation? Does it follow the assigned style guide?
- Grammar and spelling: Check the grammar and spelling for your case study. You want it to be free from these errors.
- Editing the big picture: When you finish reading the case study, does your intended message ring true? Does the reader understand the research and your analysis of it? Is anything left as a question you do not cover in the conclusion or limitations sections?
Consider asking someone else to review and proofread your case study on your behalf. Ask them if the report was clear and if you need to re-address any areas. This will give you confidence that you are ready for publication.
FAQs About How to Write a Case Study Paper
A case study paper involves a detailed study of one specific subject. This subject might be an event, group, place, organization, company, phenomenon, or person. Typically, case studies investigate a problem involving that subject and find solutions.
A case study works to provide an in-depth analysis of a particular situation or event, usually over a long period of time. It could also analyze a person, company, or product. However, the focus remains on the company or person, not other companies or people in similar situations.
Case studies use a lot of stories and real-world data to come to conclusions. A research paper involves research on a subject but allows the writer to develop their ideas and opinions. It delves into research already done rather than analyzing the subject or case. In this type of paper, the focus can be more general and delve into other companies, industries, or people.
Case studies can be a few different types. These include:
1. Problem-oriented case studies: These focus on solving a particular problem. The problems may be theoretical, but they require you to examine them and find a solution. 2. Cumulative case studies: These case studies gather information and comparisons. Businesses use these to tell people how a product or service may benefit them. 3. Historical case studies: These look at historical events from different perspectives, applying modern ideas to something that happened in the past. 4. Critical case studies: These look at the cause and effect of a particular case. 5. Illustrative case studies: These describe events and investigate the event’s outcome and any particular lessons learned from it.
When editing for grammar, we also recommend taking the time to improve the readability score of a piece of writing before publishing or submitting
Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.
View all posts
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Kids Mental Health
- Therapy Center
- When To See a Therapist
- Types of Therapy
- Best Online Therapy
- Best Couples Therapy
- Best Family Therapy
- Managing Stress
- Sleep and Dreaming
- Understanding Emotions
- Healthy Relationships
- Relationships in 2023
- Student Resources
- Personality Types
- Verywell Mind Insights
- 2023 Verywell Mind 25
- Mental Health in the Classroom
- Editorial Process
- Meet Our Review Board
- Crisis Support
What Is a Case Study?
An in-depth study of one person, group, or event
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Cara Lustik is a fact-checker and copywriter.
Verywell / Colleen Tighe
Benefits and Limitations
Types of case studies, how to write a case study.
A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.
The purpose of a case study is to learn as much as possible about an individual or group so that the information can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.
While case studies focus on a single individual or group, they follow a format similar to other types of psychology writing. If you are writing a case study, it is important to follow the rules of APA format .
A case study can have both strengths and weaknesses. Researchers must consider these pros and cons before deciding if this type of study is appropriate for their needs.
One of the greatest advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a lab. Some other benefits of a case study:
- Allows researchers to collect a great deal of information
- Give researchers the chance to collect information on rare or unusual cases
- Permits researchers to develop hypotheses that can be explored in experimental research
On the negative side, a case study:
- Cannot necessarily be generalized to the larger population
- Cannot demonstrate cause and effect
- May not be scientifically rigorous
- Can lead to bias
Researchers may choose to perform a case study if they are interested in exploring a unique or recently discovered phenomenon. The insights gained from such research can help the researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that might be explored in future studies.
However, it is important to remember that the insights gained from case studies cannot be used to determine cause and effect relationships between variables. However, case studies may be used to develop hypotheses that can then be addressed in experimental research.
Case Study Examples
There have been a number of notable case studies in the history of psychology. Much of Freud's work and theories were developed through the use of individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include:
- Anna O : Anna O. was a pseudonym of a woman named Bertha Pappenheim, a patient of a physician named Josef Breuer. While she was never a patient of Freud's, Freud and Breuer discussed her case extensively. The woman was experiencing symptoms of a condition that was then known as hysteria and found that talking about her problems helped relieve her symptoms. Her case played an important part in the development of talk therapy as an approach to mental health treatment.
- Phineas Gage : Phineas Gage was a railroad employee who experienced a terrible accident in which an explosion sent a metal rod through his skull, damaging important portions of his brain. Gage recovered from his accident but was left with serious changes in both personality and behavior.
- Genie : Genie was a young girl subjected to horrific abuse and isolation. The case study of Genie allowed researchers to study whether language could be taught even after critical periods for language development had been missed. Her case also served as an example of how scientific research may interfere with treatment and lead to further abuse of vulnerable individuals.
Such cases demonstrate how case research can be used to study things that researchers could not replicate in experimental settings. In Genie's case, her horrific abuse had denied her the opportunity to learn language at critical points in her development.
This is clearly not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but conducting a case study on Genie allowed researchers the chance to study phenomena that are otherwise impossible to reproduce.
There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers might utilize:
- Collective case studies : These involve studying a group of individuals. Researchers might study a group of people in a certain setting or look at an entire community. For example, psychologists might explore how access to resources in a community has affected the collective mental well-being of those living there.
- Descriptive case studies : These involve starting with a descriptive theory. The subjects are then observed, and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing theory.
- Explanatory case studies : These are often used to do causal investigations. In other words, researchers are interested in looking at factors that may have caused certain things to occur.
- Exploratory case studies : These are sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to gather more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses .
- Instrumental case studies : These occur when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than what is initially obvious to observers.
- Intrinsic case studies : This type of case study is when the researcher has a personal interest in the case. Jean Piaget's observations of his own children are good examples of how an intrinsic cast study can contribute to the development of a psychological theory.
The three main case study types often used are intrinsic, instrumental, and collective. Intrinsic case studies are useful for learning about unique cases. Instrumental case studies help look at an individual to learn more about a broader issue. A collective case study can be useful for looking at several cases simultaneously.
The type of case study that psychology researchers utilize depends on the unique characteristics of the situation as well as the case itself.
There are also different methods that can be used to conduct a case study, including prospective and retrospective case study methods.
Prospective case study methods are those in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.
Retrospective case study methods involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work their way backward to look at information about the individual's life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.
Where to Find Data
There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. Six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:
- Archival records : Census records, survey records, and name lists are examples of archival records.
- Direct observation : This strategy involves observing the subject, often in a natural setting . While an individual observer is sometimes used, it is more common to utilize a group of observers.
- Documents : Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc., are the types of documents often used as sources.
- Interviews : Interviews are one of the most important methods for gathering information in case studies. An interview can involve structured survey questions or more open-ended questions.
- Participant observation : When the researcher serves as a participant in events and observes the actions and outcomes, it is called participant observation.
- Physical artifacts : Tools, objects, instruments, and other artifacts are often observed during a direct observation of the subject.
Section 1: A Case History
This section will have the following structure and content:
Background information : The first section of your paper will present your client's background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, family mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and weaknesses.
Description of the presenting problem : In the next section of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with.
Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to the symptoms should also be noted. Any screening or diagnostic assessments that are used should also be described in detail and all scores reported.
Your diagnosis : Provide your diagnosis and give the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the client's symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s), or any possible difficulties in reaching a diagnosis.
Section 2: Treatment Plan
This portion of the paper will address the chosen treatment for the condition. This might also include the theoretical basis for the chosen treatment or any other evidence that might exist to support why this approach was chosen.
- Cognitive behavioral approach : Explain how a cognitive behavioral therapist would approach treatment. Offer background information on cognitive behavioral therapy and describe the treatment sessions, client response, and outcome of this type of treatment. Make note of any difficulties or successes encountered by your client during treatment.
- Humanistic approach : Describe a humanistic approach that could be used to treat your client, such as client-centered therapy . Provide information on the type of treatment you chose, the client's reaction to the treatment, and the end result of this approach. Explain why the treatment was successful or unsuccessful.
- Psychoanalytic approach : Describe how a psychoanalytic therapist would view the client's problem. Provide some background on the psychoanalytic approach and cite relevant references. Explain how psychoanalytic therapy would be used to treat the client, how the client would respond to therapy, and the effectiveness of this treatment approach.
- Pharmacological approach : If treatment primarily involves the use of medications, explain which medications were used and why. Provide background on the effectiveness of these medications and how monotherapy may compare with an approach that combines medications with therapy or other treatments.
This section of a case study should also include information about the treatment goals, process, and outcomes.
When you are writing a case study, you should also include a section where you discuss the case study itself, including the strengths and limitiations of the study. You should note how the findings of your case study might support previous research.
In your discussion section, you should also describe some of the implications of your case study. What ideas or findings might require further exploration? How might researchers go about exploring some of these questions in additional studies?
Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind when formatting your case study:
- Never refer to the subject of your case study as "the client." Instead, their name or a pseudonym.
- Read examples of case studies to gain an idea about the style and format.
- Remember to use APA format when citing references .
A Word From Verywell
Case studies can be a useful research tool, but they need to be used wisely. In many cases, they are best utilized in situations where conducting an experiment would be difficult or impossible. They are helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a great deal of information about a specific individual or group of people.
If you have been directed to write a case study for a psychology course, be sure to check with your instructor for any specific guidelines that you are required to follow. If you are writing your case study for professional publication, be sure to check with the publisher for their specific guidelines for submitting a case study.
Simply Psychology. Case Study Method .
Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011 Jun 27;11:100. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-100
Gagnon, Yves-Chantal. The Case Study as Research Method: A Practical Handbook . Canada, Chicago Review Press Incorporated DBA Independent Pub Group, 2010.
Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . United States, SAGE Publications, 2017.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
How to Write a Case Study
A lot of social and financial studies involve completing a case study. Though this academic work might seem pretty easy at first sight, there are a lot of specifics that one should consider before starting. For example, one should be acquainted with the design of a case study and its general formatting rules in order to create a high-quality piece.
Definition and Types
A case study is a written assignment that is centered around a problem, its analysis, and the suggestion of solutions. Commonly such cases are based on real subjects and events but can vary in circumstances and terms depending on the needs of the discipline or topic. In order to create an excellent case study, one should pay attention to detail and suggest the best options on how to solve the problem based on related works and studies on the topic.
So, you can see that a person who starts writing a case study must analyze the problem and conduct in-depth research to find the necessary supportive base for their suggestions.
There are a few different types of such a project that students may face.
Such studies are aimed to describe the case and make it understandable for a reader who might not be familiar with the topic of the research.
This type of study is more like a preparation step for in-depth research or investigation. Such studies come in handy when one needs to identify what questions to explore, what subjects to focus on, and what data collection methods to pick.
Such cases are great for cause and effect studies as they are exploring a few situations or phenomena with the purpose of criticizing generalized assumptions.
Unlike the previous type, a cumulative study collects information from various sources in order to generalize the situation or phenomena.
Steps of Writing
The writing process of such a study is similar to any other type of assignment as it consists of steps like preparation, research, writing, and editing. However, it also has specifics that might cause difficulties, especially if you are writing such a piece for the first time. Let’s find out what one should pay attention to and what the best tips on writing a case study are.
Step 1. Preparation and Research
There are a lot of things that you should do before you start writing your paper. Here are a few steps to take before diving into the writing process:
- Choose a case (a situation, problem, phenomena) to study if you are not assigned one by your teacher or professor.
- Choose the methods and instruments of data collection and analysis.
- Find existing works on the topic of your research. Search for related case studies, articles, and reports. There might be a lot of material to work with or there might be not enough. Choose wisely and make sure you have enough information to explore different points of view and avoid being biased.
An expert tip: Case studies can be set around people, organizations, programs, practices, services, and even whole systems or regimes. Make sure to choose the case that is able to provide essential insights and perspectives as well as enough material to build a counterpoint.
In order to create a great piece, you will need to collect and analyze information on the topic as well as to conduct qualitative research. The best sources of information for your case study are:
- Documents: archives, articles, records, reports.
- First-hand evidence: interviews, tests, observations.
- Additional theoretical data: other case studies, books, journals, etc.
When researching theoretical or supporting information for your work, pay attention not only to the source of it but also its relevance (be sure to use the latest data to avoid using outdated information).
Step 2. Drafting
Once all the data that you need for your work is collected and organized, it’s time to start writing the first draft of your case study. As any other academic paper, this type of work consists of an introduction, the main body, and the conclusion. A case study has the main body divided into a few blocks; thus, the structure of it looks something like the following:
The abstract is a brief summary of the work, research, and the results as well as its importance and purpose. It’s essential to put the most important points into your abstract such as what question was posed, what methods and instruments were used, and what results you have achieved.
Make your abstract short and informative, keep it less than a page, and make sure to check what type of abstract is required by your learning institution – narrative or structured one – as they have their specifics. A structured abstract is not composed as a narrative one (which is basically a summary of your work) but answers particular questions instead. For example, you might be asked to explain what the significance of your study is or what your goal was.
This is the part that most students know how to write as they face it in every assignment. The introduction’s purpose is to provide background information on the field of study and introduce it to the reader.
This is where you can put some theoretical material that you have collected through your research – similar cases, historical background, or other related material.
Tip: Be sure to check the recommendations of your learning institution as some require including a separate chapter named Background to present necessary background information.
Describe the case and provide primary data that you have collected in the Presentation chapter. Here you can put your raw data and describe the study in detail.
Outcomes (Solution and Recommendation)
This part is dedicated to the results of your case study as well as suggestions on how to solve the problem or recommendations for further research.
The summary of the work and final words on the topic.
Put all the works and sources that you are using through your work. Use only credible sources. Remember that Wikipedia is not a credible source, but it has a lot of references that you might check out and find useful.
Step 3. Editing
The final step of your writing is, of course, proofreading and editing. There are probably a lot of blank spaces that you need to fill in. So, make sure you leave enough time before your deadline. If you are searching for a professional service that can proofread and edit for you, you should definitely turn to our team as we can make your case study sound very professional and polished.
When proofreading, pay attention to the evidence that you use and if there is enough information to make a proper conclusion and suggestions. Use as many real-life examples and first-hand data as possible. If you can, perform interviews and surveys in order to get unbiased results.
Be sure to polish the grammar (check for the typos if there are any) and punctuation as well as the style and formatting of your work. They should match the requirements of your learning institution, especially the word count and the structure of the paragraph.
Topic Examples for a Case Study
Here are a few topic examples for you.
- How the appearance of the teacher influences the education process.
- The correlation between the development of social media and mental disorders.
- Managing religion education and evolution studies in schools.
- Schools meals and students’ health.
- The role of office eating culture in obesity problem.
- The influence of video games on violence prevention.
- The influence of online chats on buyer’s behavior.
Make sure to choose the topic that resonates with you as they are the best and the most interesting to work with.
EssayTigers brings you the best in custom paper writing! EssayTigers brings you the best in custom paper writing!
To get started, simply place an order and provide the details!
- Plagiarism checker Do The Check
- Academic editing Ask For Help
- Samples database View Samples Base
Main Tips On How To Write Case Study Analysis
29 Apr 2022
❔What is a Case Study Analysis?
☝️Types of Case Studies
📃Case Study Examples
✏️Writing a Case Study Draft
📝How to Format a Case Study
✍️How to Write an Outline
📌How to Write a Case Study
📑Creating a Title Page and Citing
Many students struggle with how to do a case study analysis. Writing such an assignment is always daunting, as it requires you to analyze something and form conclusions based on your research.
It usually focuses on phenomena you can't study in a typical way. Therefore, when writing such a text, you have to prepare thoughtfully. In the PapersOwl article, you will find out what this academic writing is and how to write a case analysis.
Is writing essays your hobby?
Participate in our "Independence Day of the United States" essay writing competition and get a 12-month Quizlet subscription.
- Deadline: July 24, 2023
- Topic: Declaration of Independence
- Language: English
- Length: 1000-5000 words
- Font size: 11 or 12
What is a Case Study Analysis?
A case study analysis is a form of writing that analyzes a specific situation, event, object, person, or even place. The said analysis should be written and structured to lead to a conclusion. Typically, you cannot analyze the subject of this essay via quantitative methods.
Note that such studies can be used in various fields and require the use of many theories that can give you a unique approach to the matter. For example, you can write a paper like this about social sciences, business, medicine, and many other fields. Each of these will require a particular approach.
Need help with writing a case study?
Get your paper written by a professional writer
Difference Between Research Paper and Case Study
Like all papers share similarities, these two are no different. Hence, knowing these parallels and distinctions, you will be able to learn how to write a case study assignment correctly.
A case study introduction can present the topic but does not require a citation of other similar works or the writer's opinion. On the other hand, research papers do not need a complete introduction about the general topic, but need citation since you will be using other people's works.
In addition, a writer must present their thoughts and views about the case they research. Finally, the most significant difference is that the research papers make the readers focus on a specific issue. On the contrary, the case study goes more into the matter and shifts the focus to all the details.
Types of Case Studies
When it comes to writing case study analysis, there are five types you must learn to differentiate. That is important because whether you get such an assignment, you will have to understand the task first and then start with the writing.
Here are the types of case studies which you will encounter most often:
- Problem-oriented - this type focuses on real-life situations or theoretical issues and aims to solve them. For example, "World Hunger."
The second type is critical, also known as innate. The goal is to investigate a specific case, particularly its effects and what causes them - "Why Toys Remain Gender Stereotyped."
Historical case studies papers focus on events from our past. The text should contain information about a specific historical period of this type. Your goal will be to provide different perspectives of an event and parallel them to current-day issues. An example of such a topic is "Racism During Ancient Times - Roman Empire."
The illustrative or Instrumental type focuses on describing a particular event. Here you have to explain the event's outcome and what you have learned from it. A sample of such a topic is "The Effects of Dance Therapy in Depressed Adolescents."
Collective case studies are the fifth type. They include a collection of data about a specific case you will use to compare. E.g., "The Management Leadership at Work."
Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade
Check the originality of a paper with just a couple of clicks.
- Free unlimited checks
- Accurate results
- All common file formats
- Intuitive interface
Case Study Title Examples
When writing a case study analysis, titles usually point out that the text is a study. Thus, most of them contain "case study" in the header. Here are some case study analysis examples:
- Santander's Expansion in Canada: Case Study Analysis
- Case Study on the Effects of Art Therapy on Children with ADHD
- The National Health Service's Treatment of People with Learning Disabilities, Case Study Analysis
- Toxicological Case Study of The Mississippi River
- Reading Development in Remote Areas of Nigeria: A Case Study
- Case Study on the Growth of Veganism in Berlin
Writing a Case Study Draft
Creating a rough draft is the foremost step to take while writing such a paper. It is an essential step you must take, no matter how experienced you are. By doing it, you will be able to get more creative. In addition, you can explore options and decide on what to focus on more precisely, which will eventually result in a higher grade for your work.
So, sit down in a quiet place, bring an old-fashioned pen and paper, and start drafting ideas. Read them briefly while sipping on your tea and edit. After you have decided where your focus will lay, you have to develop these ideas and thoughts a bit more, then pick the best one.
How to Format a Case Study
Knowing how a case study analysis format should look is crucial. Therefore, you must know what the text structure should look like. The standard one contains about eight sections:
- Introduction/The Executive Summary: As the first part here, you have to hook the reader's attention, so the introduction of the case study is the most important part of the writing. Then present them with a brief overview of your case study analyses and their findings. Make sure to form a good thesis statement , as this is the pivotal point of your work.
- Literary Review/Background information: Similarly to other papers, in this part, you have to write your most important facts or findings while identifying the case issue.
- Method/Findings/Discussion: This section can be written separately based on how your text flows. Here you will have to explore more about the case and its findings. Allow yourself to go into more detail instead of just briefly covering them.
- Solutions/Recommendations/Implementation Part: You have to discuss the answers you came up with. Basically, you say why they are fit to solve the case and how you think they can be used in practice. Note that you must write only realistic and practical solutions for the problem. It's possible to write testable evidence that can support your recommendations.
- Conclusion: Here, you are supposed to cover your whole paper briefly and even repeat the thesis (rephrased). Make sure to highlight the critical points of your case study.
- References or Bibliography: This section must include the sources from which you collected data or whom you consulted. Usually, this part is on a separate page, and the listing should be according to your academic institution's requirements.
- Appendices (include only if applicable): It is usual for some parts of your materials to be too lengthy or unfit for the other sections of the case study. Therefore, you have to include them here. That can be pictures, raw data of statistics, graphs, notes, etc. The appendix section is strictly for subsidiary materials, do not put the most relevant ones here.
- Author Note: Remember that all educational institutions have their requirement for a case study format. The abovementioned is an example; thus, you may see a section or another is missing, or there are additional ones.
Stuck with finding the right title?
Get plenty of fresh and catchy topic ideas and pick the perfect one with PapersOwl Title Generator.
How to Write a Case Study Outline
To write a case study outline, you have first to conduct research. The best way to do so is by accessing academic search engines like Google Scholar or by using old-fashioned books and published works. From there, you should understand how to structure and what key points to form your text. Then, construct your thesis statement around the idea you picked.
The outline for your case study paper is essential to your writing process. It helps you organize your thoughts and ideas in order to present a comprehensive, well-structured paper. Furthermore, it allows your professor to evaluate your understanding of the subject, the correct formatting and structure, and to identify any potential issues with your paper. Having an outline serves as a guide for both you and your professor, making it easier to plan and write your paper . With the help of a well-crafted outline, your professor can navigate your paper more easily and spot any issues before they arise. Writing a case study paper can be daunting, but the outline helps make it easier.
A case study outline will most likely consist of the following sections and information:
- Case study title;
- Student’s name;
- Educational instructor's name;
- Course name.
- It briefly overviews your case study, thesis statement, and essential findings.
Main Body Paragraphs - usually three to five
- Literature Review/Background Information;
- Repeat a paraphrased version of your thesis;
- Summarize your case study key points;
- Finish with a statement that can recommend the audience to read further by giving them thoughts to contemplate and develop new ideas.
Reference List or Bibliography
- List all the sources of evidence used to create your case study in your educational organization's required citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, Turabian, etc.).
How to Write a Case Study
The way to write a case study is by strictly following the main idea of your thesis. You already know that a study's main body consists of an introduction, literature review, method, discussion, and conclusion sections. Thus, all that is left is to focus on these parts and understand how to make them perfect.
- The Introduction/Summary: The introduction of a case study should start with a solid first sentence that will hook the reader. Afterward, you must explain the question you will be answering and why you are doing it. You should include some of the topic's relevant history and details here. Also, you should explain how your case study will enrich the available information. Also, briefly summarize your literature review, which your findings will use as a base. Try to finish positively and make the reader see the benefits of reading your work.
- Background Information/Literature Review: Structure and present the data from your academic sources . This section will show the reader how vital your work is and the basis for it.
- Method/Findings: This part aims to explain the case you selected, how it connects to the issue, and why you chose them. You can also add what methods you use. Here you must note that the data collection methods are qualitative, not quantitative, for case studies. That means the data is not random but well-structured and chronically taken from interviews, focus groups, and other sources.
- Discussion/Solutions: Restate your thesis but rephrase it, then draw your conclusions from what you have discovered via your research and link to your statement. Inform the audience of your main findings and define why the results are relevant to the field. Think about the following questions:
Were the results unexpected? Why/Why not?
How do your findings compare to previous similar case studies in your literature review?
Do your findings correlate to previous results, or do they contradict them?
Are your findings helpful in deepening the current understanding of the topic?
Next, explore possible alternative explanations or interpretations of your findings. Be subjective and explain your paper's limitations. End with some suggestions for further exploration based on the limits of your work.
- Conclusion: Inform the reader precisely why your case study and findings are relevant, and restate your thesis and main results. Give a summary of previous studies you reviewed and how you contributed to expanding current knowledge. The final should explain how your work can be helpful and implemented in future research.
Your instructor should have an excellent example they can show you, so feel free to ask. They will surely want to help you learn how to write a case study!
Build your thesis statement
This is AI-powered online tool that lets you create a thesis statement about any topic you need.
- Simple interface
- Works with any type of paper
- Absolutely free
- Unlimited attempts
How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study
A case study in APA format for students can differ from one institution to another. So, knowing your college or school requirements is crucial before you start writing. Nonetheless, the general one should look like this:
- Title - A header no longer than nine words has "Case Study" and reflects the content and the idea behind it yet is engaging to read;
- Write your full name;
- The name of your course/class;
- Next is your professor or instructor name;
- The university/school name;
- The date of submission.
When citing in your paper, you must ensure it is done accurately and in your academic style. If you are unsure how to do it, research the requirements and google "How to do a case study analysis in Harvard", for example. Note that short citations can be in your text, but longer ones should be in the bibliography section.
Hruby, A. (2018). Hruby, A., & Hu, F. B. (2015). The epidemiology of obesity: a big picture. Pharmacoeconomics, 33(7), 673-689. www.sciepub.com. http://www.sciepub.com/reference/254744
Case studies strive to analyze an event, location, case, or person. They can be similar to research papers, so you must pay close attention to the structure and what your professor has requested from you.
Finally, the process of writing can be overwhelming due to the many sections. However, if you take the process step by step and do your preparations properly, you will have an easy time writing the paper. You can also look for assistance online - many services offer to order case study online help . With the right kind of assistance, you can be sure that your paper is of high quality and is due on time!
Was this article helpful?
Thanks for your feedback.
I am Dr. Paulus, an experienced academic writer. I am efficient, hardworking, and very flexible. As a student, I majored in History and Management but will be more than happy to work on any other subject. I write everything from scratch and do a unique research for every project.
Readers also enjoyed
Case study topics on various academic subjects.
Case Study Writing Guides 79 likes
Different Types of Case Study
Case Study Writing Guides 24 likes
WHY WAIT? PLACE AN ORDER RIGHT NOW!
Simply fill out the form, click the button, and have no worries!
Other assessments: Case studies
- Scientific writing style
- Case studies
- Journal critique
- Research proposals
- Literature reviews
- Assessed discussion
On this page:
“For knowledge you will use in the real world - in business, for example, or in engineering or medicine - the "what" [to think] isn't sufficient. You must know how to apply the knowledge to the real world.” William Ellet, The Case Study Handbook
Case study assignments are common in some disciplines. Their main purpose is to show that you can relate theory to real-life situations. You also need to be able to recommend practical solutions to real-life problems.
This page is dedicated to writing case studies for undergraduate assignments, it does not tackle case studies as a research method/approach.
What is a case study?
A case study is an assignment where you analyse a specific case (organisation, group, person, event, issue) and explain how the elements and complexities of that case relate to theory . You will sometimes have to come up with solutions to problems or recommendations for future action.
You may be asked to write a case study as an essay, as part of a longer assignment or as a report.
Examples of cases
An organisation. For example a company, a business, a school, a sports club, a health body.
A group. For example a class of pupils, an individual team within an organisation, a project group, a sports club.
An individual. For example a patient, a client, a specific student/pupil, a manager/leader.
An event. For example a sporting occasion, a cultural event, a news story, an historical event.
An issue. For example a dilemma, problem, critical event, change of practice.
Analysing a case
What are you being asked to do.
It is important be sure about the purpose of analysing the case before you begin. Refer back to your assignment brief and make sure you are clear about this. It could be:
- To answer a specific question using examples from the case to support your argument
- To explore what happened and why (no recommendations needed)
- To make recommendations or identify solutions
- To write a plan that takes the issues into consideration
Examining the case
In order to be thoroughly familiar with the case you are going to need to read through* the case several times during the analysis process. Start by simply reading it without asking too many questions in your mind. Get a feel for it as a whole. After that, you will need to read through it several times to identify the following:
- What are the facts? List information you are sure about.
- What happened/is happening? List definite actions that occurred/are occurring.
- Who was/is involved? List people by job role and what their involvement was/is.
You will now need to read additional material to help you analyse. In business, for example, you will perhaps want to read the financial statements for the company you are investigating; in nursing, the background of the treatment for the disorder from which “your” patient is suffering.
* Sometimes cases are presented to you as videos to watch. In which case you are going to have to watch it many times!
You may have to ask yourself which theoretical approaches that you have covered in your course are relevant to the particular case you have before you. In some instances this may be obvious but in others it may be less so. A theoretical approach is useful as it can give you specific questions to answer ; specific things to look for. For example, in business, this may take the form of a SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) or you may look at the Porter's Five Forces model. There are similar models in other disciplines which you may have been introduced to already - or the brief may tell you which to use.
No obvious theoretical approach?
If you have not been provided with a theoretical approach don't worry. You can still ask questions. For example:
What is this case study about in general? What is the big picture - the main issue that this case study is an example of?
What specific issues are associated with it? What makes this case interesting?
What do I already know about these issues?
How do they link with the theories we have studied? (See below.)
What alternative approaches to dealing with the issues would be appropriate?
If an alternative approach were used, what impact might it have?
Linking to theory
The most crucial element about a case study is your ability to link the real world example to theory. This gives you more insight into both because
- The real life example will mean you can see how theory works in practice .
- Theory can help you see why things happened as they did and help you come up with alternative approaches and find solutions/make recommendations.
Real life is complex and messy. Do not expect it to nicely fit into theories which are by their very nature best guesses (albeit well researched) and generalisations. However, you will have been given the case specifically because it does relate to some theories you have learned or need to be aware of.
So you need to:
- Look back through your lecture notes and reading lists to see if anything seems to fit with the case.
- Search for research that relates to the issues you identified during your analysis. Note these will not necessarily be labelled as 'theories'. Claims made in research papers can all be described as theories.
Now consider some or all of the questions below:
- Do the facts and issues raised in the case support any theories?
- Do the fact and issues raised in the case invalidate or undermine any theories?
- Can any of the theories explain why issues arose?
- Can any of the theories back up the actions taken?
- Can any of the theories suggest alternative courses of action?
- Do you think any of these alternatives would work best in your case? Why?
Armed with the answers to many of these questions, you are ready to start writing up your case study.
Writing up your case study
The most common ways to write up a case study are as essays or reports . The main differences between the two will be how you structure your work.
Structuring a case study essay
Case study essays usually have to answer a specific question using examples from your case study. They are written in continuous prose (a series of paragraphs with no subheadings). They should be structured much like any other essay with an introduction, main body and conclusion.
This needs to have three things:
- An introduction to your case (you don't need to rewrite it, just summarise it giving the important parts for your essay).
- A position statement (your answer to the overall question).
- An indication of how the rest of the essay is structured.
These do not have to be in that particular order but they do all need to be included.
Generally you will organise this thematically . Each paragraph needs to make a point and then use information from your case to illustrate and back up that point . You will also bring in theory (other reading) to strengthen your argument. It is acceptable to start with the example from your case and then show how this links to theory and the conclusion this leads you to; however, it is best if you first let your reader know the point you are making, as then they are not having to second guess this until the end of the paragraph.
Each point in your main body should be leading back to the position statement you made in the introduction.
What are the main lessons you learned from the case study? How well did the theory fit with the real world example? Have you been asked to provide solutions or recommendations? If so, give them here.
Include all the sources you have cited in your essay.
Structuring a case study report
These can vary between disciplines so check your assignment guidance. A typical case study would include:
Table of contents
See our MS Word pages or our MS Office Software SkillsGuide for instructions on how to create these automatically.
Executive summary - optional, check if required
Give an overview of your whole report including main approaches, findings and recommendations. This is a bit like the abstract of a journal article.
- Context (Background)
- Purpose - what is the case study trying to achieve?
- Approach - are you using any particular theoretical tools or research approaches?
- Identification of issues and problems
- Links to theories that help you explain the case
- Explanation of causes or implications of the issues identified
- Possible solutions (if required, check your instructions)
These depends on what you were asked to do but could include:
- Main lessons learned
- Best solutions and reasons why
- Recommendations (may have their own section)
- Action plan (may have its own section)
- Include all the sources you have cited in the report.
Appendices if required
Recommended books and ebooks from our collection, related books and ebooks from our collection.
Recommended external resources
- Writing a case study From Monash University
- Writing a case study analysis From The University of Arizona
- Case studies From the University of South Australia - includes useful sample case studies
- Writing a case study PDF to download from the University of Bedfordshire
- << Previous: Scientific writing style
- Next: Journal critique >>
- Last Updated: Nov 3, 2023 12:06 PM
- URL: https://libguides.hull.ac.uk/other
- Login to LibApps
- Website terms and conditions
- Report a problem