What is a Case Study? Definition and Method
Many students don’t know how to write a case study and find it a very difficult assignment even before getting started. Of course, it can be quite a challenging task but with the help of various recommendations and case study examples, you will be able to complete the assignment in a blink of an eye!
A case study is a task, which aims to teach the student how to analyze the causes and consequences of an event or activity by creating its role model. Such assignments show how complexities may influence various decisions and that is what makes case studies so important.
In most of the cases, your professor will give the same topic to a whole class and it will become a sort of a discussion, after processing all available data. That is why you need to use all of your thinking skills and knowledge to get a chance to analyze the situation properly. Here are some recommendations, which will be helpful in completing a case study:
- Use real-life examples. If you are free to choose a topic on your own, try to take it from real life. However, avoid real names;
- Finish every part of your study with points for discussing. They will engage your reader and help him orient in the study;
- Provide credible information on the topic;
- Make sure the story is believable, i.e. it consists of sequence of time and events, problems and issues to solve, identities and so on.
There are also a few problems you need to avoid to make your case study as interesting and catchy, as possible:
- No limitations. It is very easy to get lost in background information and data, which is not directly related to the subject. Try to distinguish key points of your paper and concentrate on them, instead of including information from different areas;
- No credible sources. Such task has lots of requirements, including trustworthy sources. Every statement you make should be backed with credible data and evidence;
- No conclusions. Every assignment, not depending on a topic and complexity, should end up with conclusions to give the reader an idea of topic relevance. Make sure you spend enough time on analyzing the results and providing useful conclusions.
Order an Exclusive Paper of Top Standard
100% Originality Assured. Only Qualified Specialists
Examples & Samples of Case Study
There are multiple ways of making the process of completing the assignment easier, including ordering a task at a writing service or asking other students for help. However, most of the students decide to download a case study template and try to complete the assignment on their own, using an example.
It can be a great option for those, who easily process information and can analyze the template structure to apply it in their own works. Such samples can be of a great help, as they contain a proper formatting style, content and other important elements, which distinguish a first-class paper. With the help of a sample case study you will be able to complete the assignment quicker and with less efforts.
Case Study Example
Case Study Examples
Case Study Format
Case Study Samples
Case Study Template
Sample Case Study
Case Study Template and Format
You have already learned what a case study is and how it should look like, so it is time to learn more about the structure of assignment and its content. However, every research greatly differs depending on the topic, so you should carefully note down all the guidelines your professor provides not to miss anything.
Here is a general structure of a study, which can be applied in most of the cases:
- Title page, which contains the title of your work, author’s name and name of the institution. In some cases you may be asked to add key words, which will be used by various searching tools;
- Abstract, which can be of a narrative or a structured type. Narrative abstract is a summary of the whole work to give the reader a chance to understand whether he is interested in reading the whole paper. Structured abstracts are used in scientific studies, when you need to provide a list of information or questions, which will be later studied in the text. You can use sub-headings, which will give the reader an idea of how the structure of your assignment looks like;
- Introduction, which aims to give the audience an idea of what makes your study so interesting. You can include examples of similar cases or get back to historical events to connect them with the problem you are studying;
- Presentation. In this section you need to provide the raw information you have collected. Try to make it narrative and interesting;
- Outcomes, which should give the reader an idea of how the problem or event should be treated. Make sure you provide all of your recommendations in a simple way, using credible sources;
- References, which should include only credible sources.
When you complete such assignment, you should never forget about case study format, as it can greatly influence the result. Your professor may ask you to use a certain formatting style, which will be much easier for you and will help to avoid the most common mistakes.
This section provides some advice on the process of writing up your report.
Plan the report
Before you begin to write the report, it is essential to have a plan of its structure. You can begin to plan the report while you are investigating the case.
Fist, prepare an outline (in list or mind-map format) of the main headings and subheadings you will have in the report. Then add notes and ideas to the outline which remind you of what you want to achieve in each section and subsection. Use the outline to help you consider what information to include, where it should go and in what sequence. Be prepared to change your outline as your ideas develop. Finally, the outline headings and subheadings can be converted into the contents page of your report.
Schedule your writing time
Prepare a schedule for writing and editing the sections of the report. Allow some extra time just in case you find some sections difficult to write. Begin by writing the sections you feel most confident about. Preliminary sections (executive summary, introduction) and supplementary sections (conclusions, reference list and appendices) are usually prepared last. Some writers like to begin with their conclusions (where the writer's thoughts are at that moment) or the methodology (it's easier to write about your own work).
Analyse your audience
In writing a case study report in your course, the report is often intended for an imaginary person so you need to make sure that your language and style suites that person. For example, a report for senior management will be different in content and style and language to a technical report. A report to a community group would also be different again in content, style and language. Audience definition helps you decide what to include in the report based on what readers need to know to perform their jobs better or what the readers need to know to increase their knowledge about your subject. These notes on audience analysis are adapted from Huckin and Olsen (p1991)
*After: Huckin & Olsen ,1991.1.
- Who will read the report? Think about all the uses of the report and where and when it would be read. Reports written within an organisation may be read by different people and different departments; for example, technical and design specialists, supervisors, senior managers, lawyers, marketing and finance specialists.
- What are the readers' needs and goals? Each department or unit in an organisation has its own needs and goals. Understanding the different perspectives can help you decide how to communicate persuasively to these groups. For example while design engineers may prefer to develop new or alternative design to show progress in their field, the marketing specialist may prefer that the organisation imitate a known successful design to save time.
- How do I make communication clear for managers? Communication must be accessible and useful to busy managers as they will primarily seek important generalisations. This has implications for the report's structure, the amount of orientation or background information provided and the level of technical language used. An executive summary, introductions to new sections and concluding summaries for major sections should be included in the report.
- What might be the readers' preferences or objections to the report? You may need to address the significance and benefits/limitations of your recommendations from a number of readers' perspectives in the report. You may also need to consider compromises as a way to acknowledge potential conflicts or criticisms of your recommendations or solutions.
Prepare a draft report
Writers rarely produce a perfect piece of text in their first attempt so a number of drafts are usually produced. Careful planning and editing will ensure a consistent professional standard in the report. You will need to do the following:
- Revise the task often
Do this by keeping both the reader's needs and the report's objectives in mind as you gather information, take notes and write sections of the report.
Do this by taking clear notes, which include the information gathered and your thoughts about the usefulness and the implications of this information. Review your notes to decide what is essential information to include in the report.
- Create a logical structure
Use your contents page outline to decide where information will go. Within each section, plan the subheadings and then decide on the sequence of information within these.
Check that your writing flows and that your ideas are supported and plausible. If you are not sure what to look for, here are links to advice and activities on report organisation, cohesion and evidence.
Ensure that all your figures and tables communicate a clear message. Show a colleague your visuals to check how they will be interpreted or 'read'.
For first drafts, a word processor's spell checker and grammar checker can be useful however, do not rely solely on these tools in your final edit as they are not perfect. Errors will be overlooked or even created by these programs! The best ways to edit are to read a printed copy and where possible get a colleague to read and give feedback.
Here is a report checklist that you can print out: CHECKLIST