A case study analysis is a form of academic writing which analyses a situation, event, place or person to form a conclusion. They are useful for phenomena that can’t be studied in a laboratory or via quantitative methods.
Unsure of how to do a case study analysis? Read on to help you get started and discover useful ways to make it great!
What is a Case Study Analysis?
A case study analysis is a form of academic writing which analyses a situation, event, place or person to form a conclusion. They are useful for phenomena that can’t be studied in a laboratory or via quantitative methods. Case studies are commonly used in several fields, such as, the social sciences, medicine and business.
Difference Between Research Paper and Case Study
There are features which are common to both research papers and case studies, so to understand how to write a case study assignment you need to be aware of the differences. Case studies normally present a full introduction about a topic, but do not require citation of other similar works, or the writer’s own opinion. Conversely, research papers do not require a full introduction about the general topic but do require citing of other similar work as well as the writer’s own views.
Types of Case Studies
There are generally five types of case study and it is important to work out which type you have been tasked to write before you can begin to learn how to write a case study:
- Historical case studies focus on historical events and contain various information that provides different perspectives of the time period and applies them to current day parallels e.g., ‘Racism Amongst the French Aristocracy in the 1800’s’.
Problem-oriented case studies aim to solve a real life or theoretical problem e.g., ‘Homelessness in New York’.
Multiple/Collective/Cumulative case studies include the collection of information to provide comparisons, e.g., the value of a specific resource in different countries.
Critical/intrinsic case studies investigate causes and effects of a case e.g., Why Toys Remain Gender Stereotyped.
Illustrative/instrumental case studies describe particular events, the outcomes and what has been learned as a result. For example, ‘The Effects of Dance Therapy in Depressed Adolescents’.
Case Study Examples
Case study analysis titles are normally expected to include the words ‘case study’. Here are a few case study examples titles:
- Santander’s Expansion in Canada: Case Study Analysis
- Case Study on the Effects of Art Therapy in 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
Many students find it useful to write up a rough draft before beginning. A rough draft can help you get creative and explore options before deciding on the most suitable focus. Sit down with a coffee, paper and pen, and read the case study brief thoroughly. Then begin jotting down various ways, ideas, and possible directions to go before you decide on the best one! Don’t worry about writing neatly, it may hinder your creativity! You can draw up a neat version for your educational instructor (if required) later.
How to Format a Case Study
To know how to write a case study paper, you need to get an idea of the case study format for students, which can consist of up to eight or more sections. A basic generalized formatting guide is as follows:
- Introduction/The Executive Summary: This initial section gives the reader an overview of what your case study analyses and its findings. Remember, to include a thesis statement.
- Literary Review/ Background information: Here you can write the most relevant facts and pinpoint the topic issues.
- Method/Findings/Discussion: This part allows you to focus on the specific case you have chosen and your findings. These sometimes may be required to be written in separate sections.
- Solutions/Recommendations/Implementation: This is the place you can discuss your chosen solution, why it is appropriate, and how your proposed solutions can be put into practice. The solutions will incorporate realistic and achievable ways to improve a situation or solve a problem. Testable evidence may be included to back up the solutions you are proposing.
- Conclusion: Provide the reader with a summary of key points from your case study evaluations and proposed solutions.
- References or Bibliography: The reference or bibliography will appear on a separate page and will list all the sources of information used and consulted within your case study. They will be listed according to your educational establishments required citation style e.g., MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.
- Appendices (if applicable): There may also be material which is too ‘bulky’ (e.g., raw data, graphs, images, notes) to include elsewhere in your work so, the appendices is where this subsidiary material should go.
- Note: Not all educational establishments require the above case study analysis format. They may only require some of these sections, or request them in a different order so, always check with your instructor what the required format is before beginning work.
How to Write a Case Study Outline
A case study outline is a useful way for an educational instructor to see that a student is on track to successfully complete writing a case study analysis and identify any potential problems before the student begins working on the study.
Before beginning your outline, retrieve relevant, credible sources of information on your topic from academic search engines, such as Google Scholar. Follow this, by writing down key points you have discovered from these sources. You may only need to read the abstract or summary of the sources to pick out the key points. Then write your thesis as this will help guide you and keep you on track when writing the outline.
The case study outline may consist of the following information in preparation for writing the case study in full:
- Case study title
- Student’s name
- Educational instructor's name:
- Course name
- A paragraph giving an overview of the topic, your thesis, and your key findings.
Main Body Paragraphs (x3)
- Literature Review/Background Information
- Paraphrase or answer your thesis
- Summarize your case study
- A statement relating to your future recommendations or ideas and a broad or wide sentence about the topic in general that may encourage the reader to further ponder.
Reference List or Bibliography
- List of all the sources of evidence used to create your case study in your educational establishments required citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard, Turabian).
How to Write a Case Study
There are various extensive ways to structure a case study but they all generally boil down to five main areas; introduction, literature review, method, discussion, and conclusion. So, now you’ve got the basic information about how to write a case study, let’s explore the general sections in more depth.
- Introduction/Summary: The introduction should aim to hook the reader's attention in the first few sentences by explaining, in an interesting way, the question you will be answering or the case you will be exploring. Then include some background information on the topic and details of your selected case (explaining how they relate). State why the topic is important and why the selected case enriches current available information on the topic. Summarize your literature review and include previous case studies that your findings will build on. End with the possible ways that your case study can be useful in the future and your thesis statement.
- Background Information/Literature Review: Present relevant information from various reliable academic sources to help the reader understand the extent of research in your chosen topic and help them understand the importance of your case study (e.g., enhances current understanding, fills a gap in knowledge). Include descriptions of key theories about your topic. You can obviously use the internet and library to locate relevant literature but don’t forget to also check your lecture notes or class textbook to seek ideas/pre-existing research/theories that you may want to include.
- Method/Findings: Explain why you selected your case, how it is related to the topic/issue, your particular research methods and why you chose them/why they are suitable. Bear in mind that data collection methods for case studies are often qualitative, not quantitative, for instance interviews, focus groups, primary and secondary sources of information are frequently used. Also, try to organize the data you have discovered in a way that makes sense e.g., thematically, chronologically.
- Discussion/Solutions: Restate your thesis, then draw your own conclusions as a result of what you have discovered from your research and link to your thesis. Clearly inform the reader of your main findings, explaining why the findings are relevant. Think about the following questions:
Were the findings unexpected? Why/Why not?
How do your findings compare to previous similar case studies in your literature review?
Do your findings correlate to previous findings or do they contradict them?
Are your findings useful for deepening current understanding of the topic?
Next, explore possible alternative explanations or interpretations of your findings. Be subjective and explain your case studies limitations. End with some suggestions for further exploration based on the limitations of your case study.
- Conclusion: Inform the reader precisely why your case study and your findings are relevant, restate your thesis and your main findings. Give a brief summary of previous case studies you reviewed and how you contributed to the expansion of current knowledge. End by explaining how your case study and its findings could form part of future research on the topic.
Your instructor should have a good example of a case study to show you, so don't be afraid to ask. They will surely want to help you learn how to write a case study!
How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study
The title page needs to be formatting according to your educational establishments recommendations but a general format normally consists all or some of the following:
- An interesting title that reflects the content of the case study, includes the words ‘Case Study” and is around 5-9 words.
- Your full name
- Your course name
- Your educational instructors name
- The name of the educational establishment you are attending
- The submission date
Whenever you include another writer’s work or ideas in your case study paper, you need to accurately cite the original source in your educational establishments required citation style. You can do a quick internet search on ‘how to do a case study in APA, or ‘how to do a case study analysis in MLA’, ‘how to make a case study in Harvard’, ‘how to do a case study in Chicago’ etc., for example to get more accurate and specific guidelines. Generally, a short in-text citation e.g., (Hruby, 2018) will be written straight after the work or ideas you have used and in a longer, full citation in your reference or bibliography at the end of your case study e.g.,
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
To conclude, case studies are useful for providing an analysis of an event, a situation, a person, a place or a situation. There is some overlap with research papers, so it is important to pay attention to what your educational instructor has requested. Case studies can be overwhelming as a result of all the various sections and information that may be required, but taking it a section at a time can help make a great case study, as well as allocating sufficient time to research and planning. Hopefully, you now know how to write a case study!