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.
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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.
There are different kinds of case studies. The two main situations where a case study is required are commerce and academic pursuits. In business and commerce, the problem of how to write a case study to suit a particular circumstance, budget, location, and category of goods and services are well documented. Here, how to write a case study within an academic situation is looked at in detail.
A case study is carried out to examine qualitative performance in research, and field studies in the case of naturalistic or scientific inquiries. The main thrust of any case study is investigation. This implies that the person carrying out the study must observe, read, examine, test, investigate, and write a report about the process and its results.
A case study usually has a practical application, and can be set to test a field of knowledge. It can also be used to train students for similar real-life situations in their career life after attending a university. They prepare people for work in offices, factories, hospitals, schools, and courtrooms where investigative procedures are needed.
Stages of Writing a Case Study
- When the situation, process, location, and time have been decided upon, you must carefully set out a plan. What will be observed or investigated? By whom? For how long?
- The language you use in your plan must be clear. The terminology and vocabulary must be identical to those used in the situation to be studied; that is, the factory, the courtroom, the restaurant, or the accounting firm.
- Write a set of questions that will help you decide which data to collect, which data will be considered relevant to the study, and how to analyze it when it is all collected.
- The questions set out must take any proposals the study will make into consideration. Decide which units of calculation the study will use (that is, scientific measurements such as metric, digital, analog, and so forth). Decide how the calculations will be linked to the proposals made. Decide on the terms of reference and criteria for how the results will be analyzed or interpreted.
- Do not forget to write down the goals of the study.
- When the observations and investigation is taking place, make sure all participants understand the aims, the procedure, and which outcomes you wish to reach.
- Assemble all records, interview questions, materials, and participants and hold a number of meetings to ensure everyone and everything is ready by the start of the study.
- Ensure that all records, writing, data, and so forth are generated on compatible systems, software, and language.
- Identify the person who will carry out any editing or crosschecking necessary, and the person who will do the final writing.
- Ensure that the writing up of the case study is done under similarly rigorous conditions as the investigation.
A case study that is not aimed at a certain audience and doesn’t solve issues that people encounter is not valuable. Therefore, before choosing a case study topic, you should determine your target audience and get acquainted with it. Only after you know its needs and the problems it faces can you get a clear idea of what topic might be of interest for your audience. When formulating a topic, identify the main problems that may exist within it, and explain why they are important. This way you will make your case study more focused on solution, and thus more valuable.
Key Points to Consider
- When students need to know how to write a case study, they must address two factors: the process involved, and the method of writing up the findings.
- The case must be chosen or assigned. It might be the operations of a small business, the assessable aspects of a classroom, the procedures of a hospital emergency room, or the tasks undertaken in a bakery or restaurant, to name a few examples.
- All materials must be assembled before starting to observe and take notes. Observations are usually recorded on a grid or spreadsheet after the different tasks or procedures are identified, listed, and named. All grids, sheets, and books must be kept together, and pages of relevant material must be marked according to a scheme. Card systems are great for this—some students prefer a CSV spreadsheet.
- More than in any other scholarly work, facts and figures are more important than ideas and opinions when working on a case study. All facts and figures must adhere to a plan which sets out what the case study will examine, for how long, and under which conditions. The number of people who will participate, the premises or location where it will take place, and all relevant details must be set out before commencement.
- All accompanying text must be supported by properly-formatted referencing, using APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian styles.
- A self-devised note-taking system is usually optimal, because it helps to keep all observations and calculations in precise order. Organization is vital, and time management skills must be carefully observed if the case study is to be successful.
- The salient points of an observational or investigative case study must be sought, planned, and reported. Each paragraph of the report must deal with one aspect or procedure, and explain what can be seen in the charts or spreadsheets.
- The writing must be formal, academic, and precise.
Dos and Don’ts
- Try not to build a case study on an unbalanced or shaky premise.
- Using old data collected for some other study.
- Material presented in the wrong order is a frequent error—chronological is best. The report on figures and statistics should come last.
- Using material and data from other studies runs the risk of repetition.
- Indecision is an aspect that weakens an otherwise well-researched case study: a frequently-seen flaw is dithering between one stance and another.
- Not researching all the material thoroughly is another area of failure. Make sure the notes you write are clear and cogent, and create paragraphs of well-prepared writing steadily and surely.
- Lack of structure is sometimes found to weaken a student’s work in a case study. It is important to make a plan or outline for a successful piece of work.
- One must exhibit a deep understanding of the entire case. Disorganized work and confusion is not an effective way to persuade an examiner of how well you have covered the material and accounted for your investigation.
- Understand your aims. An effective case study demonstrates that a student or group of students will go out into a working life well-equipped to communicate ideas, research, and concepts without taking short cuts. The ability to conduct an investigation into a procedure or operation is invaluable in a CV.
- Poor language skills, inappropriate or irrelevant vocabulary, the wrong tone, and errors in punctuation, grammar, syntax, and structure demonstrate low aptitude.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic case study writing tips and rules, you can check out our case study samples to link theory with practice.
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