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Case Studies

Updated: Apr 19, 2016
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Case Study Writing

 

Writing Case Studies is a part of the curriculum for many college and university programs. Its purpose is to provide a thorough analysis of a situation, or a “case.” The Case Study’s purpose is to reveal interesting and insightful information about a classification of things.

 

The “case” in Case Study can be seen as the “real-life” situation being analyzed, and the Case Study ends up lending insight into the analysis of this situation. Case Studies occur in a number of ways. One way might be an analysis of a company or organization, if say a marketing or business major were doing a Case Study. Another might be a student studying psychology performing a Case Study about a person’s mental illness – like, for example, how people with depression suffer in their relationships and careers.

 

Case Studies cover a broad range of situations and problems, but have one underlying theme: they highlight a larger problem or issue, a real-life situation, through heavy research and the application of theories, concepts and common knowledge in a field of study; and Case Studies serve to illuminate those problems through an in-depth study of its application to an individual or single unit. Fundamentally, case studies seek to solve a problem.

 

The Two Approaches to Writing a Case Study

 

1. The Analytical Approach, where the case study is performed in an attempt to understand the problem (what has happened and why), but does not identify the problem or suggest solutions.

 

2. The other approach to a Case Study is the Problem-Oriented Method used to identify existing problems, and then suggest solutions to these problems.

 

Case Studies Must:

 

    • Apply the knowledge and ideas covered in the course to practical, real-life situations

 

    • Identify, then suggest solutions to, the present problems

 

    • Recommend practical, achievable and economical solutions to these problems

 

    • Detail exactly how this solution should be incorporated

 

    • Offer counter-solutions just in case the initially proposed solution doesn’t effectively solve the problem

 

How to Write a Case Study



1) Pick a subject, issue or topic that has an underlying problem, and conduct thorough research on that problem (by using books, journals, magazines and newspapers). The problem and the proposed solution should pertain to the course in which the assignment is given, and the student should make sure to record incorporated sources to be cited later.

 

2) Determine a case “site” – a location, organization, company, or even individuals experiencing a problem – then plan and set up interviews. Keep in mind one thing when doing this, though: interviewees should, for example, be involved at the same company or organization, or the case “site,” where people taking part in the study have a common interest in solving the problem.

 

3) Conduct interviews. This is a crucial step to completing any case study. Interviewees should be asked what solutions have already been attempted, as well as asked about their feelings regarding the situation, and what they could, if possible, do differently to solve the underlying problem in the future. Open-ended questions are best – What is working? How did the situation develop? Stay away from yes or no questions in order to get an objective analysis.

 

4) Organize and analyze the information gathered from the interviews, and conduct more extensive research to identify what method is most effective in solving the problem.

 

5) Write the case study.

 

The eight sections of a case study, in order, are:

 

• Synopsis/Executive Summary outlining the purpose of the case study, a description of research, a broad outline of the issues and findings, and the theory being administered

 

• An Analysis, which identifies the problems in the case and supported by factual evidence

 

• Discussion summarizing the major problem/s, which identifies alternative solutions to these problems; it should briefly outline each alternative solution, and then evaluate the advantages/disadvantages of each potential solution

 

• Conclusion – it should sum up the main points gathered from the findings and the discussions (interviews)

 

• Recommendations explaining what alternative solutions should be adopted to solve the problem, briefly justifying these solutions in a persuasive manner. In this section, an integration of theory pertinent to the coursework is most appropriate

 

• Implementation explaining what should be done, by whom and when

 

• References used in the case study

 

• Appendices may be used to note any original data relating to the study that may have interrupted the flow of the main body

 

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