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Case Study Template


  1. Class: Unspecified
  2. This template is published for use.
  1. Step 1: Defining the task and subject of the case study
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Unlike most academic papers, topics for case studies are rarely pre-assigned; most likely, you will need to decide on the topic yourself. Usually, case studies focus on a person (sometimes on a small group of people), or on a single event. Remember that you cannot conduct statistical analysis or research a large group of people with the help of a case study.

      • Choose the field of study. Depending on whether it is medicine, psychology, sociology, law, or any other area, research methods and possible topics may differ.
      • Within the chosen field, select the case (disability, sickness, psychological condition, social phenomenon, legal precedent, and so on) which is yet not studied well enough.
      • Within the chosen subject, identify the existing problems, and choose one of them. This problem will be the case that you will need to research.
    • Writing a case study requires you to have clearly formulated tasks that must be solved; after you have decided in which field you need to do research and what exactly will be the subject of your focus, you must come up with goals that your case study will achieve.

      • A case study can be illustrative. The main task of such a case study is to describe the case (for example, if it is unique, occurs for the first time, and so on) so that other people can get a clear picture of it.
      • Critical instance studies focus on specific cases, but do not set generalized purposes. For example, a person with a rare disease might lecture students of some medical college about the symptoms and the course of the sickness.
      • Research, or exploratory case study. Such case studies set research questions, and analyze a case from different approaches in order to distill new knowledge. The example of such a case study might be studying a law precedent in order to prognose how it will influence legal practice in general.
    • Before starting to do research and actually write the study, you should make sure you will not repeat other case studies written about the case chosen by you.

      • Search the Internet for other case studies written on your subject. Pay attention to their titles, and also to which goals these studies were aiming at. Even if the topics are close or similar, the tasks may be different, which also means a different case study.
      • Sometimes, not all of the information can be found online. Go to at least three or four academic libraries in your city--usually, they should keep old case studies in their archives.
  2. Step 2: Define the methodology
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Depending on the subject of the case study (and also on the area it refers to) there may exist different research methods.

      • Choose the methods which suit your particular case the best. For example, if you are writing a case study on chemistry, the most appropriate method might be an experiment; or, if you study a case in sociology, you might want to do statistical sampling, and so on. You can use a combination of different methods to research one specific case.
  3. Step 3: Do the research
    Percent time spent on this step: 35%


    • Figure out which sources you will need to collect information from about your case.

      • Search the Internet for articles regarding your case. Pay attention to credible Internet resources (usually it’s those which have .gov. or .edu in their names). If you find interesting/suitable information within a commercial resource, it is better to double-check it before using it.
      • Browse journals, dissertations, and other scientific works in which your case is mentioned, or to which they are dedicated.
      • Search for applicable material in previous studies dedicated to the case you have chosen.
      • Avoid the typical mistake of using outdated information regarding your case. Always look for the newest information, recent facts, and so on.
    • The main part of your case study research should be not only information taken from other sources, but also the information produced by yourself. Usually, it is acquired in the form of experiments, observations, interviewing, statistical sampling, and so on.

      • Decide on which form of empirical research you will be using.
      • Make a detailed plan of how you are going to carry out this research: what equipment you might need, which people will be involved, and so on.
      • Take detailed notes during the process of research. After you finish the “field works,” write a solid report describing the process and the outcomes of the experiment, observations, etc., based on the notes you have previously taken.
      • Remember about the main tasks that you are aiming to solve. Do not conduct irrelevant experiments, and do not use or pay attention to the information that cannot contribute to your work.
    • After you acquire all the possible information regarding your case, it is time to analyze it to figure out what it means and what it gives you.

      • Show how the collected material is relevant to your study.
      • Look for trends, regularities, and consistent patterns. Sometimes a single case may be just the tip of the iceberg, and in some cases you can shed light on the “underwater” part of a problem by discovering repeating patterns of cases.
      • Depending on your tasks, objectives, topic, field, and so on, perform any other analytical operations that are relevant and appropriate for your case.
      • Carefully write down all results. Remember that the main questions of analysis are: “What does it mean?” “Why it happened?” and “What does it lead to?”
  4. Step 4: Write the case study
    Percent time spent on this step: 35%


    • After you have finished collecting and analyzing information, it is time to write it all down in the form of a detailed case study paper; first of all, you will need to figure out in which order to present your findings.

      • Educational institutions often have different requirements for formatting and the structure of academic works--case studies in particular. Check out the rules of your educational institution before you start planning and outlining.
      • A typical case study usually consists of the following sections: an introduction, your study’s background, methodology, findings and results, evaluation and analysis of the results, conclusion, recommendations, and a list of references.
      • After you have decided on the structure, create a rough outline of your case study; at this point, your task is to reallocate information between sections. Decide which piece of your research goes where.
    • After you have planned and outlined the paper, it is time to start filling the outline in with details.

      • In the introduction, you must present the situation (case) and show exactly what the issue is. Describe it, so that your readers understand where the problem lies.
      • Provide a context in which your study has been conducted and its background consisting of scientific works written by other authors, previously conducted research, experiments, and so on.
      • Explain your methodology--which methods you have used for your research, and why.
      • List your findings, results of experiments and observations, and so on.
      • Provide detailed analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of all the information that you have acquired during your research.
      • In the conclusion section of the case study, summarize the main points of your study, and explain why this study was important, and what its results mean.
      • Make a list of references.
      • Edit and proofread your case study paper. Make sure it is consistent, free of grammar mistakes, and uses only credible information from reliable sources.
  5. Step 5: Feedback
    Percent time spent on this step: 10%


    • Listen carefully to what your colleague and/or tutor says about your case study, and make notes about what needs to change. Use your best discretion and change your dissertation according to your supervisor’s criteria.

      • When receiving criticism, be open-minded. Do not fall into the trap of being defensive.
      • Do not be overly-receptive as well. Do not change your entire case study based on others’ comments if the changes do not work better than the original.
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