What is a case study? It is an exploratory and descriptive research analysis of a certain problem. The term can also refer to a certain research methodology commonly used in social sciences. As a case study definition states, one will need to conduct a thorough research study on the subject under consideration. There are four common types of case studies: critical (a particular subject with its cause and effect outcomes is examined in a paper); illustrative (description of events); cumulative (comparison of collective information), and exploratory (investigative).
How to write a case study?
Here is a detailed description of each of the case study writing phases. The first phase is getting started. One needs to determine one’s case study type and writing style in accordance with the target audience a case study is aimed at. The purpose of any case study is to analyze a case thoroughly in order to reveal unknown information about a topic. Students typically deal with the critical type of case study writing. When one has picked an angle of a case study, one needs to start gathering all relevant information both at the library and online. A research study should be narrowed down to a specific problem. In case there are case studies published on the same subject, one should take a closer look at them. There is no need to repeat a research study that has already been conducted by someone else. At this stage, it will also be useful to familiarize oneself with case study examples to learn more about formatting and structure.
The next phase is to prepare for interviews. However, not every case study should consist of this part. It can be easily omitted depending on the topic one is dealing with. If conducting an interview is relevant to a research study, one should choose experts in the field under consideration. The best option is to choose those who are or have been directly involved. It can be a group of people or a few individuals. The key aspect is to gather useful information on the subject. One should arrive prepared for an interview in order to ask appropriate questions and get the answers one is looking for. Being fully informed is of vital importance.
The third phase is obtaining data. All collected data needs to be analyzed. It is advisable to keep all gathered data in one place to have easy access to materials when necessary. It is impossible to include all collected data in one case study. Therefore, one will need to sort through all available materials and decide what is more relevant for a case study. In addition, one needs to make one’s piece of writing understandable to readers. The major problem of a case study should be formulated in one or two sentences. It will help stay concentrated on the main issue.
The final phase is developing and writing a case study. Such a paper should consist of four parts: an introduction, a background information paragraph in which one explains why a case study is done, a presentation of findings, and a conclusion. The problem in question should be presented in an introduction. Then, one needs to familiarize a reader with background information on the topic. When a reader has all the knowledge he or she requires to comprehend a problem, it is time to introduce all the collected data, including statistics, diagrams, research findings, and interview quotes. It is vital to explain to a reader what these findings mean, as well as how they will help solve the problem at hand. Possible solutions should be provided in the concluding paragraph of a case study. Leaving a reader with an unanswered question at the end of a paper is quite common. It forces him or her to think more about the subject under consideration.
Stating the sources of references is of vital importance in case study writing. One needs to make sure the sources one has chosen are credible. In case new terms are mentioned in a case study, it is necessary to explain them to a reader. When one is done with case study writing, it is essential to allocate enough time on editing and proofreading. There should be a natural flow in one’s piece of writing. Transitions between paragraphs should be logical. Giving a case study for proofreading to someone else will be rather helpful, as another person might notice mistakes one has missed.
Apart from that, there a few other tips one needs to take into consideration when working on the task of case study writing. If one is supposed to conduct interviews, one needs to ask open-ended questions. It will help foster a discussion. One should always ask interview participants whether one can mention their names and other personal information in a case study. Such information should not be disclosed in case one did not get a permission. Protecting the anonymity of participants is of key importance. Common case study writing problems one should avoid include:
- Overgeneralization. A case study should be evidence-based. Otherwise, it is speculation. For this reason, conducting research is the first step to take when one deals with case study writing. The goal of a case study is to lay the foundation for understanding a broader issue.
- Failure to predict all possible implications. In case one is not able to document an obvious outcome in terms of the issue in question, a reader may question the validity of research conducted. One needs to be thorough, and to consider all possible outcomes.
- Failure to document limitations. When writing a case study, one of the first steps to take is to mention specific limitations of a research study. It is impossible to dwell upon all problems related to a certain issue in one case study. Limiting the scope of research will help focus on the problem under consideration. In case one wants to highlight other aspects of an issue, one can suggest areas for further research in the concluding paragraph of one’s case study.
Case study writing is a complicated assignment. One needs to choose a very specific issue to dwell upon in order to avoid overgeneralization. Before one gets down to writing, one also needs to specify what the limitations of his or her research are. The problem one is going to research should be presented in an introductory paragraph. Then, the target audience should be provided with context and background information to fully comprehend the issue in question. The next paragraph should be dedicated to dwelling upon all collected data and explaining why these findings are significant. One can conduct interviews in case it is relevant to the subject under consideration. Solutions to the problem should be presented in the concluding paragraph. It is vital to mention all possible implications in this paragraph as well. If there are some other aspects that should be studied in regards to the topic in question, one can suggest how they can be researched further.
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