How to write a case study

How to write a case study

College studies involve increased workload and longer times for reading. Freshmen have to contend with these new situations which are included in some of the challenges that they need to overcome. In your studies, many academic papers and essays have to be written, you have to do research in your field of study, many assignments have to be done and be submitted on time, higher levels of academic expectations must be reached, and these factors amongst many others are part of freshman challenges that cannot be avoided in your academic pathway.  However, freshman challenges in specific academic areas can be tackled through professional guidance and resilience in undertaking new tasks. Case studies are some of the academic study aspects that you will meet at college.

What is a case study?

              By definition, a case study is a detailed account, record or research process into the development of a person, place, a phenomenon, a group of people or a situation, done over a sufficient period of time. Case studies involve observations made on the behavior of the subjects or participants in their natural environment, by a researcher studying the behavior of social life activities that cannot easily be quantified.  Hence a case study is a rigorous qualitative field research undertaking. Case study meaning is actually denoting field research, which can be collective, descriptive, explanatory, exploratory in nature. As a researcher, after defining your research problem, you can use case studies to evaluate and compare your findings so as to understand different aspects of the problem that is being tackled, hence derive several ways of solving the problem. Case studies can be used in fields of Psychology, Education, Anthropology, Medicine, Political Science and Social Sciences.  Case studies unlike other researches are used to discover new solutions to an issue, or find new explanations to a phenomenon from direct observations of behavior.

What are the tips that can be used in writing case studies?

               A case study is a field research just like any other research, and therefore you can look at it as a case study research.  After gathering enough information and data on the case study, the following tips can help you to make a write up;

  1. Read many case study examples and decide whether the problem can best be addressed through a case study. This will also help you to design your case study professionally.
  2. Develop a clear and concise statement of the case study research
  3. Collect as much information as possible on the case study in the natural settings.
  4. Document all your sources properly to avoid plagiarism issues in the paper.
  5. Create an outline of the case study by organizing your findings logically in an order that addresses the case study problem, analyzes it and provides solutions.
  6. Write a draft of the case study identifying crucial facts, selecting key issues, evaluating possible solutions and making recommendations on the course of action to be taken. Incorporate important things that you have gathered supported by evidence.
  7. Prepare a list of citations you have made.
  8. Follow writing instructions that you have been given to complete your project.
  9. Revise, edit and proofread the draft case study to come up with a final refined copy.

How can you prepare to write a case study?

Writing a case study needs a lot of prior preparations by the researcher.  You need to identify the study group and then select a behavioral issue or phenomenon that you want to research on. For example, you can identify a college where you wish to carry out your research, and the behavioral issue may be a research on how to avoid academic burnout and its effects on students in the college. Take as much research information as possible on the case by making observations, taking notes, conducting interviews, asking questions and using questionnaires.  You can also conduct the case study prospectively or retrospectively making reference to all possible sources of information that are available.  This should be done over a period of time that is good enough to maximize gathering of information and data for the case study.  You should make a list of all the sources you have used in the research. With all the necessary data and information at hand, you can then settle down to writing the case study research.

What are the steps in writing a case study?

The steps outlined below can be useful when writing a case study.

The case study – read the case study repeatedly to ensure that you have addressed the problem sufficiently.

Assemble information – depending on the case study research you have done, the information gathered must be filtered so as to have what is the relevant to the study write up.  Scan through your notes or field journal, select and re-write the notes, analyze and interpret the questionnaires, write facts from your observations about the general behavior pattern of the study group, look for similarities and differences in behavior of your subjects and relate them to the norm or case study control, make comparisons to your expectations and make any generalities if possible.  Deviations from the norms must be noted in relation to what is common to each participant in the case study.  Ask yourself questions that will generate answers or possible solutions in the case study.  Questions like; ‘why is this behavior common to all?’ ‘Why is the other subject behaving differently?’ can help in gathering the necessary information for the case study.  It is important to follow instructions accompanying the case study research.

Organization – decide on your writing style or format.  The basic structure is the introduction, body and conclusion.  Each of your paragraphs should cover a different section of the case study.

Analysis – descriptive statistics can be done where possible. Your analysis should lead to suggestions of possible solutions to the problems in the case study.  Focus on the phenomenon discerning patterns of behavior displayed by the participants and interpreting your findings.  In the case if academic burnout, your analysis may give new behavior exhibited by burnout in the college, how the problem is being tackled by individuals, what the students are doing to avoid academic burnout, why the students are able to cope up with the burnout problem successfully without stopping their studies, and possibilities of deriving solutions from the participants that can be practiced somewhere else.

Citation – follow the citation and referencing style given in your instructions.  However, you can follow the APA style in case studies if the referencing style is not specified.

What is the structure of a case study?

In writing a case study, the following format or structure is commonly used: –

Introduction or Synopsis – give a brief summary of the case study research stating the purpose of the study, its importance, and the length of time taken. Describe the main problem under research giving some background information on the issue. State some facts that are relevant to the case study derived from previous researches and show why a case study research is best suited to address the problem.

Literature review – the case study literature should provide information and historical background to the problem that the case study will analyze.  This should also support the reasons why this case study design has been taken.  It should also show findings of previous case studies carried out for example, what case study research has already been done on academic burnout, what recommendations were made?

Findings – discuss your findings.  What were your observations? What problems did you find in the case study? Describe similarities you observed in behavior and the differences recorded.  What deviations from the norm were observed?  Summarize the problems that the study group exhibited.  Explain how the case study was conducted resulting in new findings in the research and better understanding of the problem.

Analysis and discussion – analyze the information you have gathered and present your suggestions. Explain the Implications of the findings, new developments in relation to previous findings and state areas that need further research.  State limitations of the case study considering the possibilities of other explanations to the problems under research. In the burnout example, the case study control would be observing students in the college who are not affected by academic burnout. Compare your findings to the norms in the case study control which is free from the problems being addressed.  Give possible solutions to the problem backed by evidence gathered

Conclusion – you should concisely emphasize your findings showing how the findings addressed the problem positively and the importance significance of the case study.  Give an overview of the case study and its significance.

Recommendations – use the findings in your case study to make recommendations.  Support these with the evidence found in the study.  Do not make generalizations based on your findings.

Implementation – suggest some ways of implementing solutions to the problem that was addressed by the case study.  Set up some action strategies based on the case study research findings.

References – list the sources you accessed to back your research in the style that has been recommended by your tutors. However, the American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style is commonly used in such social science write ups.

Appendices – the use of questionnaires and other research tools are captured in this section.

What are the examples of case studies?

Examples of case study are very many on the internet.  A number of theories advanced by researchers have been backed by case studies. For example, Sigmund Freud did a lot of case study research and proposed theories that are still in practice today in education circles.  Other examples of case study include, Phineas Gage case, Genie’s abuse case, the Kodak case study, business and marketing case studies amongst many others.  Reading examples of case study will strengthen your writing skills.

What are the things that can lead to a poor-quality case study?

A case study is supposed to be carried out in the natural habitat of the subjects.  It is meant to bring in new solutions to a problem.  Your case study will be poor if this condition is not observed.  Other things that can make your case study poor include: –

  • Participation of the researcher in the case study as a case study research. This may lead to subjectivity and biasness in the write up and the conclusions.
  • Use of observations tools that are outdated or poor in quality to collect data.
  • Blocked evidence or complete lack of evidence in the case study. A case study is evidence based and valid evidence must be presented in the report.
  • Hurriedly making conclusions without addressing the solutions to the problem researched.
  • Lacking some data to augment your findings.

How can you avoid plagiarism in a case study?

Plagiarism issues are not acceptable in any form of writing.  To avoid plagiarism, you should cite all sources of information in the recommended referencing style.  Follow instructions provided before writing your case study.  Your sentences must be paraphrased in your own words and should not be lifted directly from other peoples’ works or just copied and pasted in your report.  Make your writing as original as possible.  You can also use a plagiarism checker software like Turnitin to correct plagiarism in your work.  However, we have professional writers online who can help you to write plagiarism free case study research papers and other academic papers.  You can visit one of the websites, like essaytutors.com and request for their support in the research.

Concluding and presenting a case study

Review all aspects of the case study to refine and give it quality. You can also conclude your case study by making a cover page that indicates the case study research title and your name and then bind the whole paper to make a single pamphlet to be presented as a hard copy.  Depending on the origin of the case study, you will make a presentation according to the instructions given for your case study.  Your presentation can also be done as a soft copy on power point by creating animated slides.

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