What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study
What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.
What Is a Case Study?
A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.
What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?
While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.
Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.
The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.
Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:
Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.
Types of Case Studies
The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:
- Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
- Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
- Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
- Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
- Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.
Case Study Format
The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:
- Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
- Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
- Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
- Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
- Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
- Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
- References. Provide all the citations.
How to Write a Case Study
Let's discover how to write a case study.
Setting Up the Research
When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:
- Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
- Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
- Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
- Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
- Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.
Read Also: 'CREDIBLE SOURCES: WHAT ARE THEY?'
Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:
- Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
- Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
- Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
- Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
- Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
- Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
- Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
- Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.
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Case Study Outline
Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.
- Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
- Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
- Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
- Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
- Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
- Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
- Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
- Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
- Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
- Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
- Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
- Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.
Writing a Case Study Draft
After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:
- Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
- In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
- Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
- Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
- At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.
Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study
Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :
With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.
Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.
Finalizing the Draft: Checklist
After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:
- Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
- Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
- Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
- Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?
Problems to avoid:
- Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
- Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
- Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.
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How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study
Let's see how to create an awesome title page.
Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:
- A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
- The title should have the words “case study” in it
- The title should range between 5-9 words in length
- Your name and contact information
- Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.
Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:
There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.
Citation Example in MLA Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.
Case Study Examples
To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.
Eastman Kodak Case Study
Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany
To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .
Get Help Form Qualified Writers
Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.
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How to Write a Case Study: Bookmarkable Guide & Template
Updated: October 10, 2023
Published: January 12, 2023
Earning the trust of prospective customers can be a struggle. Before you can even begin to expect to earn their business, you need to demonstrate your ability to deliver on what your product or service promises.
Sure, you could say that you're great at X or that you're way ahead of the competition when it comes to Y. But at the end of the day, what you really need to win new business is cold, hard proof.
One of the best ways to prove your worth is through a compelling case study. In fact, HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report found that case studies are so compelling that they are the fifth most commonly used type of content used by marketers.
Below, I'll walk you through what a case study is, how to prepare for writing one, what you need to include in it, and how it can be an effective tactic. To jump to different areas of this post, click on the links below to automatically scroll.
Case Study Definition
Case study templates, how to write a case study.
- How to Format a Case Study
Business Case Study Examples
A case study is a specific challenge a business has faced, and the solution they've chosen to solve it. Case studies can vary greatly in length and focus on several details related to the initial challenge and applied solution, and can be presented in various forms like a video, white paper, blog post, etc.
In professional settings, it's common for a case study to tell the story of a successful business partnership between a vendor and a client. Perhaps the success you're highlighting is in the number of leads your client generated, customers closed, or revenue gained. Any one of these key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of your company's services in action.
When done correctly, these examples of your work can chronicle the positive impact your business has on existing or previous customers and help you attract new clients.
Free Case Study Templates
Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.
- Data-Driven Case Study Template
- Product-Specific Case Study Template
- General Case Study Template
You're all set!
Click this link to access this resource at any time.
Why write a case study?
I know, you’re thinking “ Okay, but why do I need to write one of these? ” The truth is that while case studies are a huge undertaking, they are powerful marketing tools that allow you to demonstrate the value of your product to potential customers using real-world examples. Here are a few reasons why you should write case studies.
1. Explain Complex Topics or Concepts
Case studies give you the space to break down complex concepts, ideas, and strategies and show how they can be applied in a practical way. You can use real-world examples, like an existing client, and use their story to create a compelling narrative that shows how your product solved their issue and how those strategies can be repeated to help other customers get similar successful results.
2. Show Expertise
Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on a given topic or industry. This is where you get the opportunity to show off your problem-solving skills and how you’ve generated successful outcomes for clients you’ve worked with.
3. Build Trust and Credibility
In addition to showing off the attributes above, case studies are an excellent way to build credibility. They’re often filled with data and thoroughly researched, which shows readers you’ve done your homework. They can have confidence in the solutions you’ve presented because they’ve read through as you’ve explained the problem and outlined step-by-step what it took to solve it. All of these elements working together enable you to build trust with potential customers.
4. Create Social Proof
Using existing clients that have seen success working with your brand builds social proof . People are more likely to choose your brand if they know that others have found success working with you. Case studies do just that — putting your success on display for potential customers to see.
All of these attributes work together to help you gain more clients. Plus you can even use quotes from customers featured in these studies and repurpose them in other marketing content. Now that you know more about the benefits of producing a case study, let’s check out how long these documents should be.
How long should a case study be?
The length of a case study will vary depending on the complexity of the project or topic discussed. However, as a general guideline, case studies typically range from 500 to 1,500 words.
Whatever length you choose, it should provide a clear understanding of the challenge, the solution you implemented, and the results achieved. This may be easier said than done, but it's important to strike a balance between providing enough detail to make the case study informative and concise enough to keep the reader's interest.
The primary goal here is to effectively communicate the key points and takeaways of the case study. It’s worth noting that this shouldn’t be a wall of text. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, charts, and other graphics to break up the content and make it more scannable for readers. We’ve also seen brands incorporate video elements into case studies listed on their site for a more engaging experience.
Ultimately, the length of your case study should be determined by the amount of information necessary to convey the story and its impact without becoming too long. Next, let’s look at some templates to take the guesswork out of creating one.
To help you arm your prospects with information they can trust, we've put together a step-by-step guide on how to create effective case studies for your business with free case study templates for creating your own.
Tell us a little about yourself below to gain access today:
And to give you more options, we’ll highlight some useful templates that serve different needs. But remember, there are endless possibilities when it comes to demonstrating the work your business has done.
1. General Case Study Template
Do you have a specific product or service that you’re trying to sell, but not enough reviews or success stories? This Product Specific case study template will help.
This template relies less on metrics, and more on highlighting the customer’s experience and satisfaction. As you follow the template instructions, you’ll be prompted to speak more about the benefits of the specific product, rather than your team’s process for working with the customer.
4. Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template
You can find templates that represent different niches, industries, or strategies that your business has found success in — like a bold social media business case study template.
In this template, you can tell the story of how your social media marketing strategy has helped you or your client through collaboration or sale of your service. Customize it to reflect the different marketing channels used in your business and show off how well your business has been able to boost traffic, engagement, follows, and more.
5. Lead Generation Business Case Study Template
It’s important to note that not every case study has to be the product of a sale or customer story, sometimes they can be informative lessons that your own business has experienced. A great example of this is the Lead Generation Business case study template.
If you’re looking to share operational successes regarding how your team has improved processes or content, you should include the stories of different team members involved, how the solution was found, and how it has made a difference in the work your business does.
Now that we’ve discussed different templates and ideas for how to use them, let’s break down how to create your own case study with one.
- Get started with case study templates.
- Determine the case study's objective.
- Establish a case study medium.
- Find the right case study candidate.
- Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.
- Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.
- Download a case study email template.
- Define the process you want to follow with the client.
- Ensure you're asking the right questions.
- Layout your case study format.
- Publish and promote your case study.
1. Get started with case study templates.
Telling your customer's story is a delicate process — you need to highlight their success while naturally incorporating your business into their story.
If you're just getting started with case studies, we recommend you download HubSpot's Case Study Templates we mentioned before to kickstart the process.
2. Determine the case study's objective.
All business case studies are designed to demonstrate the value of your services, but they can focus on several different client objectives.
Your first step when writing a case study is to determine the objective or goal of the subject you're featuring. In other words, what will the client have succeeded in doing by the end of the piece?
The client objective you focus on will depend on what you want to prove to your future customers as a result of publishing this case study.
Your case study can focus on one of the following client objectives:
- Complying with government regulation
- Lowering business costs
- Becoming profitable
- Generating more leads
- Closing on more customers
- Generating more revenue
- Expanding into a new market
- Becoming more sustainable or energy-efficient
3. Establish a case study medium.
Next, you'll determine the medium in which you'll create the case study. In other words, how will you tell this story?
Case studies don't have to be simple, written one-pagers. Using different media in your case study can allow you to promote your final piece on different channels. For example, while a written case study might just live on your website and get featured in a Facebook post, you can post an infographic case study on Pinterest and a video case study on your YouTube channel.
Here are some different case study mediums to consider:
Written Case Study
Consider writing this case study in the form of an ebook and converting it to a downloadable PDF. Then, gate the PDF behind a landing page and form for readers to fill out before downloading the piece, allowing this case study to generate leads for your business.
Video Case Study
Plan on meeting with the client and shooting an interview. Seeing the subject, in person, talk about the service you provided them can go a long way in the eyes of your potential customers.
Infographic Case Study
Use the long, vertical format of an infographic to tell your success story from top to bottom. As you progress down the infographic, emphasize major KPIs using bigger text and charts that show the successes your client has had since working with you.
Podcast Case Study
Podcasts are a platform for you to have a candid conversation with your client. This type of case study can sound more real and human to your audience — they'll know the partnership between you and your client was a genuine success.
4. Find the right case study candidate.
Writing about your previous projects requires more than picking a client and telling a story. You need permission, quotes, and a plan. To start, here are a few things to look for in potential candidates.
It helps to select a customer who's well-versed in the logistics of your product or service. That way, he or she can better speak to the value of what you offer in a way that makes sense for future customers.
Clients that have seen the best results are going to make the strongest case studies. If their own businesses have seen an exemplary ROI from your product or service, they're more likely to convey the enthusiasm that you want prospects to feel, too.
One part of this step is to choose clients who have experienced unexpected success from your product or service. When you've provided non-traditional customers — in industries that you don't usually work with, for example — with positive results, it can help to remove doubts from prospects.
While small companies can have powerful stories, bigger or more notable brands tend to lend credibility to your own. In fact, 89% of consumers say they'll buy from a brand they already recognize over a competitor, especially if they already follow them on social media.
Customers that came to you after working with a competitor help highlight your competitive advantage and might even sway decisions in your favor.
5. Contact your candidate for permission to write about them.
To get the case study candidate involved, you have to set the stage for clear and open communication. That means outlining expectations and a timeline right away — not having those is one of the biggest culprits in delayed case study creation.
Most importantly at this point, however, is getting your subject's approval. When first reaching out to your case study candidate, provide them with the case study's objective and format — both of which you will have come up with in the first two steps above.
To get this initial permission from your subject, put yourself in their shoes — what would they want out of this case study? Although you're writing this for your own company's benefit, your subject is far more interested in the benefit it has for them.
Benefits to Offer Your Case Study Candidate
Here are four potential benefits you can promise your case study candidate to gain their approval.
Explain to your subject to whom this case study will be exposed, and how this exposure can help increase their brand awareness both in and beyond their own industry. In the B2B sector, brand awareness can be hard to collect outside one's own market, making case studies particularly useful to a client looking to expand their name's reach.
Allow your subject to provide quotes with credits back to specific employees. When this is an option for them, their brand isn't the only thing expanding its reach — their employees can get their name out there, too. This presents your subject with networking and career development opportunities they might not have otherwise.
This is a more tangible incentive you can offer your case study candidate, especially if they're a current customer of yours. If they agree to be your subject, offer them a product discount — or a free trial of another product — as a thank-you for their help creating your case study.
Backlinks and Website Traffic
Here's a benefit that is sure to resonate with your subject's marketing team: If you publish your case study on your website, and your study links back to your subject's website — known as a "backlink" — this small gesture can give them website traffic from visitors who click through to your subject's website.
Additionally, a backlink from you increases your subject's page authority in the eyes of Google. This helps them rank more highly in search engine results and collect traffic from readers who are already looking for information about their industry.
6. Ensure you have all the resources you need to proceed once you get a response.
So you know what you’re going to offer your candidate, it’s time that you prepare the resources needed for if and when they agree to participate, like a case study release form and success story letter.
Let's break those two down.
Case Study Release Form
This document can vary, depending on factors like the size of your business, the nature of your work, and what you intend to do with the case studies once they are completed. That said, you should typically aim to include the following in the Case Study Release Form:
- A clear explanation of why you are creating this case study and how it will be used.
- A statement defining the information and potentially trademarked information you expect to include about the company — things like names, logos, job titles, and pictures.
- An explanation of what you expect from the participant, beyond the completion of the case study. For example, is this customer willing to act as a reference or share feedback, and do you have permission to pass contact information along for these purposes?
- A note about compensation.
Success Story Letter
As noted in the sample email, this document serves as an outline for the entire case study process. Other than a brief explanation of how the customer will benefit from case study participation, you'll want to be sure to define the following steps in the Success Story Letter.
7. Download a case study email template.
While you gathered your resources, your candidate has gotten time to read over the proposal. When your candidate approves of your case study, it's time to send them a release form.
A case study release form tells you what you'll need from your chosen subject, like permission to use any brand names and share the project information publicly. Kick-off this process with an email that runs through exactly what they can expect from you, as well as what you need from them. To give you an idea of what that might look like, check out this sample email:
8. Define the process you want to follow with the client.
Before you can begin the case study, you have to have a clear outline of the case study process with your client. An example of an effective outline would include the following information.
First, you'll need to receive internal approval from the company's marketing team. Once approved, the Release Form should be signed and returned to you. It's also a good time to determine a timeline that meets the needs and capabilities of both teams.
To ensure that you have a productive interview — which is one of the best ways to collect information for the case study — you'll want to ask the participant to complete a questionnaire before this conversation. That will provide your team with the necessary foundation to organize the interview, and get the most out of it.
Once the questionnaire is completed, someone on your team should reach out to the participant to schedule a 30- to 60-minute interview, which should include a series of custom questions related to the customer's experience with your product or service.
The Draft Review
After the case study is composed, you'll want to send a draft to the customer, allowing an opportunity to give you feedback and edits.
The Final Approval
Once any necessary edits are completed, send a revised copy of the case study to the customer for final approval.
Once the case study goes live — on your website or elsewhere — it's best to contact the customer with a link to the page where the case study lives. Don't be afraid to ask your participants to share these links with their own networks, as it not only demonstrates your ability to deliver positive results and impressive growth, as well.
9. Ensure you're asking the right questions.
Before you execute the questionnaire and actual interview, make sure you're setting yourself up for success. A strong case study results from being prepared to ask the right questions. What do those look like? Here are a few examples to get you started:
- What are your goals?
- What challenges were you experiencing before purchasing our product or service?
- What made our product or service stand out against our competitors?
- What did your decision-making process look like?
- How have you benefited from using our product or service? (Where applicable, always ask for data.)
Keep in mind that the questionnaire is designed to help you gain insights into what sort of strong, success-focused questions to ask during the actual interview. And once you get to that stage, we recommend that you follow the "Golden Rule of Interviewing." Sounds fancy, right? It's actually quite simple — ask open-ended questions.
If you're looking to craft a compelling story, "yes" or "no" answers won't provide the details you need. Focus on questions that invite elaboration, such as, "Can you describe ...?" or, "Tell me about ..."
In terms of the interview structure, we recommend categorizing the questions and flowing them into six specific sections that will mirror a successful case study format. Combined, they'll allow you to gather enough information to put together a rich, comprehensive study.
Open with the customer's business.
The goal of this section is to generate a better understanding of the company's current challenges and goals, and how they fit into the landscape of their industry. Sample questions might include:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many employees do you have?
- What are some of the objectives of your department at this time?
Cite a problem or pain point.
To tell a compelling story, you need context. That helps match the customer's need with your solution. Sample questions might include:
- What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution?
- What might have happened if you did not identify a solution?
- Did you explore other solutions before this that did not work out? If so, what happened?
Discuss the decision process.
Exploring how the customer decided to work with you helps to guide potential customers through their own decision-making processes. Sample questions might include:
- How did you hear about our product or service?
- Who was involved in the selection process?
- What was most important to you when evaluating your options?
Explain how a solution was implemented.
The focus here should be placed on the customer's experience during the onboarding process. Sample questions might include:
- How long did it take to get up and running?
- Did that meet your expectations?
- Who was involved in the process?
Explain how the solution works.
The goal of this section is to better understand how the customer is using your product or service. Sample questions might include:
- Is there a particular aspect of the product or service that you rely on most?
- Who is using the product or service?
End with the results.
In this section, you want to uncover impressive measurable outcomes — the more numbers, the better. Sample questions might include:
- How is the product or service helping you save time and increase productivity?
- In what ways does that enhance your competitive advantage?
- How much have you increased metrics X, Y, and Z?
10. Lay out your case study format.
When it comes time to take all of the information you've collected and actually turn it into something, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Where should you start? What should you include? What's the best way to structure it?
To help you get a handle on this step, it's important to first understand that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the ways you can present a case study. They can be very visual, which you'll see in some of the examples we've included below, and can sometimes be communicated mostly through video or photos, with a bit of accompanying text.
Here are the sections we suggest, which we'll cover in more detail down below:
- Title: Keep it short. Develop a succinct but interesting project name you can give the work you did with your subject.
- Subtitle: Use this copy to briefly elaborate on the accomplishment. What was done? The case study itself will explain how you got there.
- Executive Summary : A 2-4 sentence summary of the entire story. You'll want to follow it with 2-3 bullet points that display metrics showcasing success.
- About the Subject: An introduction to the person or company you served, which can be pulled from a LinkedIn Business profile or client website.
- Challenges and Objectives: A 2-3 paragraph description of the customer's challenges, before using your product or service. This section should also include the goals or objectives the customer set out to achieve.
- How Product/Service Helped: A 2-3 paragraph section that describes how your product or service provided a solution to their problem.
- Results: A 2-3 paragraph testimonial that proves how your product or service specifically benefited the person or company and helped achieve its goals. Include numbers to quantify your contributions.
- Supporting Visuals or Quotes: Pick one or two powerful quotes that you would feature at the bottom of the sections above, as well as a visual that supports the story you are telling.
- Future Plans: Everyone likes an epilogue. Comment on what's ahead for your case study subject, whether or not those plans involve you.
- Call to Action (CTA): Not every case study needs a CTA, but putting a passive one at the end of your case study can encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.
When laying out your case study, focus on conveying the information you've gathered in the most clear and concise way possible. Make it easy to scan and comprehend, and be sure to provide an attractive call-to-action at the bottom — that should provide readers an opportunity to learn more about your product or service.
11. Publish and promote your case study.
Once you've completed your case study, it's time to publish and promote it. Some case study formats have pretty obvious promotional outlets — a video case study can go on YouTube, just as an infographic case study can go on Pinterest.
But there are still other ways to publish and promote your case study. Here are a couple of ideas:
Lead Gen in a Blog Post
As stated earlier in this article, written case studies make terrific lead-generators if you convert them into a downloadable format, like a PDF. To generate leads from your case study, consider writing a blog post that tells an abbreviated story of your client's success and asking readers to fill out a form with their name and email address if they'd like to read the rest in your PDF.
Then, promote this blog post on social media, through a Facebook post or a tweet.
Published as a Page on Your Website
As a growing business, you might need to display your case study out in the open to gain the trust of your target audience.
Rather than gating it behind a landing page, publish your case study to its own page on your website, and direct people here from your homepage with a "Case Studies" or "Testimonials" button along your homepage's top navigation bar.
Format for a Case Study
The traditional case study format includes the following parts: a title and subtitle, a client profile, a summary of the customer’s challenges and objectives, an account of how your solution helped, and a description of the results. You might also want to include supporting visuals and quotes, future plans, and calls-to-action.
The title is one of the most important parts of your case study. It should draw readers in while succinctly describing the potential benefits of working with your company. To that end, your title should:
- State the name of your custome r. Right away, the reader must learn which company used your products and services. This is especially important if your customer has a recognizable brand. If you work with individuals and not companies, you may omit the name and go with professional titles: “A Marketer…”, “A CFO…”, and so forth.
- State which product your customer used . Even if you only offer one product or service, or if your company name is the same as your product name, you should still include the name of your solution. That way, readers who are not familiar with your business can become aware of what you sell.
- Allude to the results achieved . You don’t necessarily need to provide hard numbers, but the title needs to represent the benefits, quickly. That way, if a reader doesn’t stay to read, they can walk away with the most essential information: Your product works.
The example above, “Crunch Fitness Increases Leads and Signups With HubSpot,” achieves all three — without being wordy. Keeping your title short and sweet is also essential.
Your subtitle is another essential part of your case study — don’t skip it, even if you think you’ve done the work with the title. In this section, include a brief summary of the challenges your customer was facing before they began to use your products and services. Then, drive the point home by reiterating the benefits your customer experienced by working with you.
The above example reads:
“Crunch Fitness was franchising rapidly when COVID-19 forced fitness clubs around the world to close their doors. But the company stayed agile by using HubSpot to increase leads and free trial signups.”
We like that the case study team expressed the urgency of the problem — opening more locations in the midst of a pandemic — and placed the focus on the customer’s ability to stay agile.
3. Executive Summary
The executive summary should provide a snapshot of your customer, their challenges, and the benefits they enjoyed from working with you. Think it’s too much? Think again — the purpose of the case study is to emphasize, again and again, how well your product works.
The good news is that depending on your design, the executive summary can be mixed with the subtitle or with the “About the Company” section. Many times, this section doesn’t need an explicit “Executive Summary” subheading. You do need, however, to provide a convenient snapshot for readers to scan.
In the above example, ADP included information about its customer in a scannable bullet-point format, then provided two sections: “Business Challenge” and “How ADP Helped.” We love how simple and easy the format is to follow for those who are unfamiliar with ADP or its typical customer.
4. About the Company
Readers need to know and understand who your customer is. This is important for several reasons: It helps your reader potentially relate to your customer, it defines your ideal client profile (which is essential to deter poor-fit prospects who might have reached out without knowing they were a poor fit), and it gives your customer an indirect boon by subtly promoting their products and services.
Feel free to keep this section as simple as possible. You can simply copy and paste information from the company’s LinkedIn, use a quote directly from your customer, or take a more creative storytelling approach.
In the above example, HubSpot included one paragraph of description for Crunch Fitness and a few bullet points. Below, ADP tells the story of its customer using an engaging, personable technique that effectively draws readers in.
5. Challenges and Objectives
The challenges and objectives section of your case study is the place to lay out, in detail, the difficulties your customer faced prior to working with you — and what they hoped to achieve when they enlisted your help.
In this section, you can be as brief or as descriptive as you’d like, but remember: Stress the urgency of the situation. Don’t understate how much your customer needed your solution (but don’t exaggerate and lie, either). Provide contextual information as necessary. For instance, the pandemic and societal factors may have contributed to the urgency of the need.
Take the above example from design consultancy IDEO:
“Educational opportunities for adults have become difficult to access in the United States, just when they’re needed most. To counter this trend, IDEO helped the city of South Bend and the Drucker Institute launch Bendable, a community-powered platform that connects people with opportunities to learn with and from each other.”
We love how IDEO mentions the difficulties the United States faces at large, the efforts its customer is taking to address these issues, and the steps IDEO took to help.
6. How Product/Service Helped
This is where you get your product or service to shine. Cover the specific benefits that your customer enjoyed and the features they gleaned the most use out of. You can also go into detail about how you worked with and for your customer. Maybe you met several times before choosing the right solution, or you consulted with external agencies to create the best package for them.
Whatever the case may be, try to illustrate how easy and pain-free it is to work with the representatives at your company. After all, potential customers aren’t looking to just purchase a product. They’re looking for a dependable provider that will strive to exceed their expectations.
In the above example, IDEO describes how it partnered with research institutes and spoke with learners to create Bendable, a free educational platform. We love how it shows its proactivity and thoroughness. It makes potential customers feel that IDEO might do something similar for them.
The results are essential, and the best part is that you don’t need to write the entirety of the case study before sharing them. Like HubSpot, IDEO, and ADP, you can include the results right below the subtitle or executive summary. Use data and numbers to substantiate the success of your efforts, but if you don’t have numbers, you can provide quotes from your customers.
We can’t overstate the importance of the results. In fact, if you wanted to create a short case study, you could include your title, challenge, solution (how your product helped), and result.
8. Supporting Visuals or Quotes
Let your customer speak for themselves by including quotes from the representatives who directly interfaced with your company.
Visuals can also help, even if they’re stock images. On one side, they can help you convey your customer’s industry, and on the other, they can indirectly convey your successes. For instance, a picture of a happy professional — even if they’re not your customer — will communicate that your product can lead to a happy client.
In this example from IDEO, we see a man standing in a boat. IDEO’s customer is neither the man pictured nor the manufacturer of the boat, but rather Conservation International, an environmental organization. This imagery provides a visually pleasing pattern interrupt to the page, while still conveying what the case study is about.
9. Future Plans
This is optional, but including future plans can help you close on a more positive, personable note than if you were to simply include a quote or the results. In this space, you can show that your product will remain in your customer’s tech stack for years to come, or that your services will continue to be instrumental to your customer’s success.
Alternatively, if you work only on time-bound projects, you can allude to the positive impact your customer will continue to see, even after years of the end of the contract.
10. Call to Action (CTA)
Not every case study needs a CTA, but we’d still encourage it. Putting one at the end of your case study will encourage your readers to take an action on your website after learning about the work you've done.
It will also make it easier for them to reach out, if they’re ready to start immediately. You don’t want to lose business just because they have to scroll all the way back up to reach out to your team.
To help you visualize this case study outline, check out the case study template below, which can also be downloaded here .
You drove the results, made the connection, set the expectations, used the questionnaire to conduct a successful interview, and boiled down your findings into a compelling story. And after all of that, you're left with a little piece of sales enabling gold — a case study.
To show you what a well-executed final product looks like, have a look at some of these marketing case study examples.
1. "Shopify Uses HubSpot CRM to Transform High Volume Sales Organization," by HubSpot
What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. This reflects a major HubSpot value, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why Shopify uses HubSpot and is accompanied by a short video and some basic statistics on the company.
Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it's elaborated upon in the additional text on the page. So, while case studies can use one or the other, don't be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success.
2. "New England Journal of Medicine," by Corey McPherson Nash
When branding and design studio Corey McPherson Nash showcases its work, it makes sense for it to be visual — after all, that's what they do. So in building the case study for the studio's work on the New England Journal of Medicine's integrated advertising campaign — a project that included the goal of promoting the client's digital presence — Corey McPherson Nash showed its audience what it did, rather than purely telling it.
Notice that the case study does include some light written copy — which includes the major points we've suggested — but lets the visuals do the talking, allowing users to really absorb the studio's services.
3. "Designing the Future of Urban Farming," by IDEO
Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, he or she is greeted with a big, bold photo, and two very simple columns of text — "The Challenge" and "The Outcome."
Immediately, IDEO has communicated two of the case study's major pillars. And while that's great — the company created a solution for vertical farming startup INFARM's challenge — it doesn't stop there. As the user scrolls down, those pillars are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and additional visuals.
4. "Secure Wi-Fi Wins Big for Tournament," by WatchGuard
Then, there are the cases when visuals can tell almost the entire story — when executed correctly. Network security provider WatchGuard can do that through this video, which tells the story of how its services enhanced the attendee and vendor experience at the Windmill Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
5. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Boosts Social Media Engagement and Brand Awareness with HubSpot
In the case study above , HubSpot uses photos, videos, screenshots, and helpful stats to tell the story of how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame used the bot, CRM, and social media tools to gain brand awareness.
6. Small Desk Plant Business Ups Sales by 30% With Trello
This case study from Trello is straightforward and easy to understand. It begins by explaining the background of the company that decided to use it, what its goals were, and how it planned to use Trello to help them.
It then goes on to discuss how the software was implemented and what tasks and teams benefited from it. Towards the end, it explains the sales results that came from implementing the software and includes quotes from decision-makers at the company that implemented it.
7. Facebook's Mercedes Benz Success Story
Facebook's Success Stories page hosts a number of well-designed and easy-to-understand case studies that visually and editorially get to the bottom line quickly.
Each study begins with key stats that draw the reader in. Then it's organized by highlighting a problem or goal in the introduction, the process the company took to reach its goals, and the results. Then, in the end, Facebook notes the tools used in the case study.
Showcasing Your Work
You work hard at what you do. Now, it's time to show it to the world — and, perhaps more important, to potential customers. Before you show off the projects that make you the proudest, we hope you follow these important steps that will help you effectively communicate that work and leave all parties feeling good about it.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 but was updated for comprehensiveness and freshness in July 2021.
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Writing a case study
What is a case study.
A case study requires you to analyse a specific situation and discuss how its different elements relate to theory. The case can refer to a real-life or hypothetical event, organisation, individual or group of people and/or issue. Depending upon your assignment, you will be asked to develop solutions to problems or recommendations for future action.
Generally, a case study is either formatted as an essay or a report. If it is the latter, your assignment is often divided into sections with headings and subheadings to ensure easy access to key points of interest.
There are different approaches to case studies, so always check the specific instructions you have been given. There are two main types of case studies: descriptive and problem-solving .
Case study types accordion
Descriptive case studies.
- ask you to explore a specific event or issue to identify the key facts, what happened and who was/is involved.
- can be used to compare two instances of an event to illustrate how one is similar to the other.
- generally does not include solutions or recommendations as its main purpose is to help the reader or stakeholder to gain greater insight into the different dimensions of the event, etc. and/or to make an informed decision about the event, etc.
- In Nursing, you could be asked to select a medical clinic or hospital as your case study and then apply what you have studied in class about wound care approaches. You would then identify and apply the relevant theories of wound care management discussed in class to your case.
Problem-solving case studies
- ask you to critically examine an issue related to a specific individual or group, and then recommend and justify solutions to the issue, integrating theory and practice.
- In Business and Economics, you could be asked to describe a critical incident in the workplace. Your role as the manager is to apply your knowledge and skills of key intercultural communication concepts and theories in management to determine the causes of the conflict and propose relevant communication strategies to avoid and/or resolve it.
Tips for undertaking a problem-based case study View
Writing to your audience.
Your language expression should be persuasive and user-centred communication. To do this, you need to carefully research your audience, or your stakeholders . Your stakeholders are not only those people who will read your writing, but also people who will be impacted by any decisions or recommendations you choose to include. In other words, your audience may be varied with different needs and perspectives. This applies to both your case study as an assessment task and a report in your workplace.
Understanding your audience will help you to edit how you express your information, including tailoring your language expression, tone and style to meet the expectations of your stakeholders. For example, if your case study is written for the Minister of Health, then your tone will need to be formal, ensuring that any technical terms are clearly and concisely explained with concrete examples.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Who will read my case study and why?
- What are the stakeholders’ needs, preferences, expectations and goals?
- How can I write clearly and concisely for this particular audience?
- How will the stakeholders use my case study in their work?
- What are the relevant technical terms and have I explained them in clear and concise language?
Writing up your case study
If your case study is in the form of a report, you can divide it into 8 main sections, as outlined below. However, these vary depending on discipline-specific requirements and assessment criteria.
1. Executive Summary/Synopsis
- Introduce the topic area of the report.
- Outline the purpose of the case study.
- Outline the key issue(s) and finding(s) without the specific details.
- Identify the theory used.
- Summarise recommendations.
- Summarise the your task
- Briefly outline the case to identify its significance.
- State the report's aim(s).
- Provide the organisation of the main ideas in the report.
- Briefly describe the key problem and its significance (You usually do not need to provide details of findings or recommendations. However, it is best to first check your assessment task instructions.)
- presenting the central issue(s) under analysis,
- providing your reasoning for your choices such as supporting your findings with facts given in the case, the relevant theory and course concepts
- highlighting any underlying problems.
- Identify and justify your methodology and analytical tools.This might not be applicable to your assessment, so you will need to check your assessment instructions.
This section is often divided into sub-sections. Your headings and subheadings need to be informative and concise as they act as a guide for the reader to the contents of that section.
- Summarise the major problem(s).
- Identify alternative solutions to these major problem(s).
- Briefly outline each alternative solution where necessary and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages.
- Depending on your assessment criteria, you might need to refer to theory or professional practice here.
Note that as a case study is based on a specific situation, it is difficult to generalise your findings to other situations. Make sure that your discussion focuses on your case and what can be learnt from your specific case analysis for your stakeholders.
- Restate the purpose of the report
- Sum up the main points from the findings, discussion and recommendations.
- Restate the limitations if required.
- Choose which of the alternative solutions should be adopted.
- Briefly justify your choice, explaining how it will solve the major problem/s.
- Remember to integrate theory and practice as discussed in your unit with respect to the case.
- If needed, suggest an action plan, including who should take action, when and what steps, and how to assess the action taken.
- If appropriate include a rough estimate of costs (both financial and time).
This section is sometimes divided into Recommendations and Implementation with details of the action plan placed in the Implementation section.
Recommendations should be written in a persuasive, audience-centred style that communicates your suggestions clearly, concisely and precisely .
- List in alphabetical order all the references cited in the report.
- Make sure to accurately format your references according to the specified referencing style for your unit.
8. Appendices (if any)
- Attach any original data that relates to your analysis and the case but which would have interrupted the flow of the main body.
Ivančević-Otanjac, M., & Milojević, I. (2015). Writing a case report in English. Srpski arhiv za celokupno lekarstvo , 143 (1-2), 116-118.
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Buseco: report writing.
This resource is designed to assist you in completing a business report. It provides a guide to approaching and structuring your report and includes annotated examples with written feedback.
Engineering: Lab report
This resource expands on the general report structure and provides useful tips and examples on how to turn practical work and lab experiments into a written lab report.
Engineering: Technical report
This resource expands on the general report structure and provides useful tips and examples on how to write a report for key stakeholders, using experimental and practical data.
This resource provides information about what reports look like in IT, and how you might consider structuring your IT report. It includes student samples for each possible section of an IT report, along with video and written feedback.
MNHS: Health sciences case report
This resource provides a guide to approaching and structuring a patient-based case report. It includes an annotated example with written feedback.
MNHS: Comparative report
This resource is designed to assist you in completing your Comparative Report [CR] for Integrating Science and Practice [iSAP] assessment tasks. It provides a guide to approaching and structuring your report and includes an annotated example with written feedback.
MNHS: Psychology case report
This resource provides detailed guidance on the structure and content of the psychology case report, with numerous examples from the recommended reading.
Science: Lab report
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- J Can Chiropr Assoc
- v.52(4); 2008 Dec
Guidelines to the writing of case studies
Dr. brian budgell.
* Département chiropratique, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 3351, boul des Forges, Trois-Rivières, Qc, Canada G9A 5H7
Dr. Brian Budgell, DC, PhD, JCCA Editorial Board
Case studies are an invaluable record of the clinical practices of a profession. While case studies cannot provide specific guidance for the management of successive patients, they are a record of clinical interactions which help us to frame questions for more rigorously designed clinical studies. Case studies also provide valuable teaching material, demonstrating both classical and unusual presentations which may confront the practitioner. Quite obviously, since the overwhelming majority of clinical interactions occur in the field, not in teaching or research facilities, it falls to the field practitioner to record and pass on their experiences. However, field practitioners generally are not well-practised in writing for publication, and so may hesitate to embark on the task of carrying a case study to publication. These guidelines are intended to assist the relatively novice writer – practitioner or student – in efficiently navigating the relatively easy course to publication of a quality case study. Guidelines are not intended to be proscriptive, and so throughout this document we advise what authors “may” or “should” do, rather than what they “must” do. Authors may decide that the particular circumstances of their case study justify digression from our recommendations.
Additional and useful resources for chiropractic case studies include:
- Waalen JK. Single subject research designs. J Can Chirop Assoc 1991; 35(2):95–97.
- Gleberzon BJ. A peer-reviewer’s plea. J Can Chirop Assoc 2006; 50(2):107.
- Merritt L. Case reports: an important contribution to chiropractic literature. J Can Chiropr Assoc 2007; 51(2):72–74.
Portions of these guidelines were derived from Budgell B. Writing a biomedical research paper. Tokyo: Springer Japan KK, 2008.
This set of guidelines provides both instructions and a template for the writing of case reports for publication. You might want to skip forward and take a quick look at the template now, as we will be using it as the basis for your own case study later on. While the guidelines and template contain much detail, your finished case study should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. Therefore, you will need to write efficiently and avoid unnecessarily flowery language.
These guidelines for the writing of case studies are designed to be consistent with the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” referenced elsewhere in the JCCA instructions to authors.
After this brief introduction, the guidelines below will follow the headings of our template. Hence, it is possible to work section by section through the template to quickly produce a first draft of your study. To begin with, however, you must have a clear sense of the value of the study which you wish to describe. Therefore, before beginning to write the study itself, you should gather all of the materials relevant to the case – clinical notes, lab reports, x-rays etc. – and form a clear picture of the story that you wish to share with your profession. At the most superficial level, you may want to ask yourself “What is interesting about this case?” Keep your answer in mind as your write, because sometimes we become lost in our writing and forget the message that we want to convey.
Another important general rule for writing case studies is to stick to the facts. A case study should be a fairly modest description of what actually happened. Speculation about underlying mechanisms of the disease process or treatment should be restrained. Field practitioners and students are seldom well-prepared to discuss physiology or pathology. This is best left to experts in those fields. The thing of greatest value that you can provide to your colleagues is an honest record of clinical events.
Finally, remember that a case study is primarily a chronicle of a patient’s progress, not a story about chiropractic. Editorial or promotional remarks do not belong in a case study, no matter how great our enthusiasm. It is best to simply tell the story and let the outcome speak for itself. With these points in mind, let’s begin the process of writing the case study:
- Title: The title page will contain the full title of the article. Remember that many people may find our article by searching on the internet. They may have to decide, just by looking at the title, whether or not they want to access the full article. A title which is vague or non-specific may not attract their attention. Thus, our title should contain the phrase “case study,” “case report” or “case series” as is appropriate to the contents. The two most common formats of titles are nominal and compound. A nominal title is a single phrase, for example “A case study of hypertension which responded to spinal manipulation.” A compound title consists of two phrases in succession, for example “Response of hypertension to spinal manipulation: a case study.” Keep in mind that titles of articles in leading journals average between 8 and 9 words in length.
- Other contents for the title page should be as in the general JCCA instructions to authors. Remember that for a case study, we would not expect to have more than one or two authors. In order to be listed as an author, a person must have an intellectual stake in the writing – at the very least they must be able to explain and even defend the article. Someone who has only provided technical assistance, as valuable as that may be, may be acknowledged at the end of the article, but would not be listed as an author. Contact information – either home or institutional – should be provided for each author along with the authors’ academic qualifications. If there is more than one author, one author must be identified as the corresponding author – the person whom people should contact if they have questions or comments about the study.
- Key words: Provide key words under which the article will be listed. These are the words which would be used when searching for the article using a search engine such as Medline. When practical, we should choose key words from a standard list of keywords, such as MeSH (Medical subject headings). A copy of MeSH is available in most libraries. If we can’t access a copy and we want to make sure that our keywords are included in the MeSH library, we can visit this address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/meshbrowser.cgi
A narrative abstract consists of a short version of the whole paper. There are no headings within the narrative abstract. The author simply tries to summarize the paper into a story which flows logically.
A structured abstract uses subheadings. Structured abstracts are becoming more popular for basic scientific and clinical studies, since they standardize the abstract and ensure that certain information is included. This is very useful for readers who search for articles on the internet. Often the abstract is displayed by a search engine, and on the basis of the abstract the reader will decide whether or not to download the full article (which may require payment of a fee). With a structured abstract, the reader is more likely to be given the information which they need to decide whether to go on to the full article, and so this style is encouraged. The JCCA recommends the use of structured abstracts for case studies.
Since they are summaries, both narrative and structured abstracts are easier to write once we have finished the rest of the article. We include a template for a structured abstract and encourage authors to make use of it. Our sub-headings will be:
- Introduction: This consists of one or two sentences to describe the context of the case and summarize the entire article.
- Case presentation: Several sentences describe the history and results of any examinations performed. The working diagnosis and management of the case are described.
- Management and Outcome: Simply describe the course of the patient’s complaint. Where possible, make reference to any outcome measures which you used to objectively demonstrate how the patient’s condition evolved through the course of management.
- Discussion: Synthesize the foregoing subsections and explain both correlations and apparent inconsistencies. If appropriate to the case, within one or two sentences describe the lessons to be learned.
- Introduction: At the beginning of these guidelines we suggested that we need to have a clear idea of what is particularly interesting about the case we want to describe. The introduction is where we convey this to the reader. It is useful to begin by placing the study in a historical or social context. If similar cases have been reported previously, we describe them briefly. If there is something especially challenging about the diagnosis or management of the condition that we are describing, now is our chance to bring that out. Each time we refer to a previous study, we cite the reference (usually at the end of the sentence). Our introduction doesn’t need to be more than a few paragraphs long, and our objective is to have the reader understand clearly, but in a general sense, why it is useful for them to be reading about this case.
The next step is to describe the results of our clinical examination. Again, we should write in an efficient narrative style, restricting ourselves to the relevant information. It is not necessary to include every detail in our clinical notes.
If we are using a named orthopedic or neurological test, it is best to both name and describe the test (since some people may know the test by a different name). Also, we should describe the actual results, since not all readers will have the same understanding of what constitutes a “positive” or “negative” result.
X-rays or other images are only helpful if they are clear enough to be easily reproduced and if they are accompanied by a legend. Be sure that any information that might identify a patient is removed before the image is submitted.
At this point, or at the beginning of the next section, we will want to present our working diagnosis or clinical impression of the patient.
It is useful for the reader to know how long the patient was under care and how many times they were treated. Additionally, we should be as specific as possible in describing the treatment that we used. It does not help the reader to simply say that the patient received “chiropractic care.” Exactly what treatment did we use? If we used spinal manipulation, it is best to name the technique, if a common name exists, and also to describe the manipulation. Remember that our case study may be read by people who are not familiar with spinal manipulation, and, even within chiropractic circles, nomenclature for technique is not well standardized.
We may want to include the patient’s own reports of improvement or worsening. However, whenever possible we should try to use a well-validated method of measuring their improvement. For case studies, it may be possible to use data from visual analogue scales (VAS) for pain, or a journal of medication usage.
It is useful to include in this section an indication of how and why treatment finished. Did we decide to terminate care, and if so, why? Did the patient withdraw from care or did we refer them to another practitioner?
- Discussion: In this section we may want to identify any questions that the case raises. It is not our duty to provide a complete physiological explanation for everything that we observed. This is usually impossible. Nor should we feel obligated to list or generate all of the possible hypotheses that might explain the course of the patient’s condition. If there is a well established item of physiology or pathology which illuminates the case, we certainly include it, but remember that we are writing what is primarily a clinical chronicle, not a basic scientific paper. Finally, we summarize the lessons learned from this case.
- Acknowledgments: If someone provided assistance with the preparation of the case study, we thank them briefly. It is neither necessary nor conventional to thank the patient (although we appreciate what they have taught us). It would generally be regarded as excessive and inappropriate to thank others, such as teachers or colleagues who did not directly participate in preparation of the paper.
A popular search engine for English-language references is Medline: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi
- Legends: If we used any tables, figures or photographs, they should be accompanied by a succinct explanation. A good rule for graphs is that they should contain sufficient information to be generally decipherable without reference to a legend.
- Tables, figures and photographs should be included at the end of the manuscript.
- Permissions: If any tables, figures or photographs, or substantial quotations, have been borrowed from other publications, we must include a letter of permission from the publisher. Also, if we use any photographs which might identify a patient, we will need their written permission.
In addition, patient consent to publish the case report is also required.
- Name, academic degrees and affiliation
Name, address and telephone number of corresponding author
Statement that patient consent was obtained
Sources of financial support, if any
Key words: (limit of five)
Abstract: (maximum of 150 words)
- Case Presentation
- Management and Outcome
Provide a context for the case and describe any similar cases previously reported.
- Introductory sentence: e.g. This 25 year old female office worker presented for the treatment of recurrent headaches.
- Describe the essential nature of the complaint, including location, intensity and associated symptoms: e.g. Her headaches are primarily in the suboccipital region, bilaterally but worse on the right. Sometimes there is radiation towards the right temple. She describes the pain as having an intensity of up to 5 out of ten, accompanied by a feeling of tension in the back of the head. When the pain is particularly bad, she feels that her vision is blurred.
- Further development of history including details of time and circumstances of onset, and the evolution of the complaint: e.g. This problem began to develop three years ago when she commenced work as a data entry clerk. Her headaches have increased in frequency in the past year, now occurring three to four days per week.
- Describe relieving and aggravating factors, including responses to other treatment: e.g. The pain seems to be worse towards the end of the work day and is aggravated by stress. Aspirin provides some relieve. She has not sought any other treatment.
- Include other health history, if relevant: e.g. Otherwise the patient reports that she is in good health.
- Include family history, if relevant: e.g. There is no family history of headaches.
- Summarize the results of examination, which might include general observation and postural analysis, orthopedic exam, neurological exam and chiropractic examination (static and motion palpation): e.g. Examination revealed an otherwise fit-looking young woman with slight anterior carriage of the head. Cervical active ranges of motion were full and painless except for some slight restriction of left lateral bending and rotation of the head to the left. These motions were accompanied by discomfort in the right side of the neck. Cervical compression of the neck in the neutral position did not create discomfort. However, compression of the neck in right rotation and extension produced some right suboccipital pain. Cranial nerve examination was normal. Upper limb motor, sensory and reflex functions were normal. With the patient in the supine position, static palpation revealed tender trigger points bilaterally in the cervical musculature and right trapezius. Motion palpation revealed restrictions of right and left rotation in the upper cervical spine, and restriction of left lateral bending in the mid to lower cervical spine. Blood pressure was 110/70. Houle’s test (holding the neck in extension and rotation for 30 seconds) did not produce nystagmus or dizziness. There were no carotid bruits.
- The patient was diagnosed with cervicogenic headache due to chronic postural strain.
Management and Outcome:
- Describe as specifically as possible the treatment provided, including the nature of the treatment, and the frequency and duration of care: e.g. The patient undertook a course of treatment consisting of cervical and upper thoracic spinal manipulation three times per week for two weeks. Manipulation was accompanied by trigger point therapy to the paraspinal muscles and stretching of the upper trapezius. Additionally, advice was provided concerning maintenance of proper posture at work. The patient was also instructed in the use of a cervical pillow.
- If possible, refer to objective measures of the patient’s progress: e.g. The patient maintained a headache diary indicating that she had two headaches during the first week of care, and one headache the following week. Furthermore the intensity of her headaches declined throughout the course of treatment.
- Describe the resolution of care: e.g. Based on the patient’s reported progress during the first two weeks of care, she received an additional two treatments in each of the subsequent two weeks. During the last week of care she experienced no headaches and reported feeling generally more energetic than before commencing care. Following a total of four weeks of care (10 treatments) she was discharged.
Synthesize foregoing sections: e.g. The distinction between migraine and cervicogenic headache is not always clear. However, this case demonstrates several features …
Summarize the case and any lessons learned: e.g. This case demonstrates a classical presentation of cervicogenic headache which resolved quickly with a course of spinal manipulation, supportive soft-tissue therapy and postural advice.
References: (using Vancouver style) e.g.
1 Terret AGJ. Vertebrogenic hearing deficit, the spine and spinal manipulation therapy: a search to validate the DD Palmer/Harvey Lillard experience. Chiropr J Aust 2002; 32:14–26.
Legends: (tables, figures or images are numbered according to the order in which they appear in the text.) e.g.
Figure 1: Intensity of headaches as recorded on a visual analogue scale (vertical axis) versus time (horizontal axis) during the four weeks that the patient was under care. Treatment was given on days 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 22 and 25. Headache frequency and intensity is seen to fall over time.
Writing A Case Study
A Complete Case Study Writing Guide With Examples
Published on: Jun 14, 2019
Last updated on: Nov 16, 2023
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Many writers find themselves grappling with the challenge of crafting persuasive and engaging case studies.
The process can be overwhelming, leaving them unsure where to begin or how to structure their study effectively. And, without a clear plan, it's tough to show the value and impact in a convincing way.
But don’t worry!
In this blog, we'll guide you through a systematic process, offering step-by-step instructions on crafting a compelling case study.
Along the way, we'll share valuable tips and illustrative examples to enhance your understanding. So, let’s get started.
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What is a Case Study?
A case study is a detailed analysis and examination of a particular subject, situation, or phenomenon. It involves comprehensive research to gain a deep understanding of the context and variables involved.
Typically used in academic, business, and marketing settings, case studies aim to explore real-life scenarios, providing insights into challenges, solutions, and outcomes. They serve as valuable tools for learning, decision-making, and showcasing success stories.
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Types of Case Studies
Case studies come in various forms, each tailored to address specific objectives and areas of interest. Here are some of the main types of case studies :
- Illustrative Case Studies: These focus on describing a particular situation or event, providing a detailed account to enhance understanding.
- Exploratory Case Studies: Aimed at investigating an issue and generating initial insights, these studies are particularly useful when exploring new or complex topics.
- Explanatory Case Studies: These delve into the cause-and-effect relationships within a given scenario, aiming to explain why certain outcomes occurred.
- Intrinsic Case Studies: Concentrating on a specific case that holds intrinsic value, these studies explore the unique qualities of the subject itself.
- Instrumental Case Studies: These are conducted to understand a broader issue and use the specific case as a means to gain insights into the larger context.
- Collective Case Studies: Involving the study of multiple cases, this type allows for comparisons and contrasts, offering a more comprehensive view of a phenomenon or problem.
How To Write a Case Study - 9 Steps
Crafting an effective case study involves a structured approach to ensure clarity, engagement, and relevance.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to write a compelling case study:
Step 1: Define Your Objective
Before diving into the writing process, clearly define the purpose of your case study. Identify the key questions you want to answer and the specific goals you aim to achieve.
Whether it's to showcase a successful project, analyze a problem, or demonstrate the effectiveness of a solution, a well-defined objective sets the foundation for a focused and impactful case study.
Step 2: Conduct Thorough Research
Gather all relevant information and data related to your chosen case. This may include interviews, surveys, documentation, and statistical data.
Ensure that your research is comprehensive, covering all aspects of the case to provide a well-rounded and accurate portrayal.
The more thorough your research, the stronger your case study's foundation will be.
Step 3: Introduction: Set the Stage
Begin your case study with a compelling introduction that grabs the reader's attention. Clearly state the subject and the primary issue or challenge faced.
Engage your audience by setting the stage for the narrative, creating intrigue, and highlighting the significance of the case.
Step 4: Present the Background Information
Provide context by presenting the background information of the case. Explore relevant history, industry trends, and any other factors that contribute to a deeper understanding of the situation.
This section sets the stage for readers, allowing them to comprehend the broader context before delving into the specifics of the case.
Step 5: Outline the Challenges Faced
Identify and articulate the challenges or problems encountered in the case. Clearly define the obstacles that needed to be overcome, emphasizing their significance.
This section sets the stakes for your audience and prepares them for the subsequent exploration of solutions.
Step 6: Detail the Solutions Implemented
Describe the strategies, actions, or solutions applied to address the challenges outlined. Be specific about the decision-making process, the rationale behind the chosen solutions, and any alternatives considered.
This part of the case study demonstrates problem-solving skills and showcases the effectiveness of the implemented measures.
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Step 7: Showcase Measurable Results
Present tangible outcomes and results achieved as a direct consequence of the implemented solutions. Use data, metrics, and success stories to quantify the impact.
Whether it's increased revenue, improved efficiency, or positive customer feedback, measurable results add credibility and validation to your case study.
Step 8: Include Engaging Visuals
Enhance the readability and visual appeal of your case study by incorporating relevant visuals such as charts, graphs, images, and infographics.
Visual elements not only break up the text but also provide a clearer representation of data and key points, making your case study more engaging and accessible.
Step 9: Provide a Compelling Conclusion
Wrap up your case study with a strong and conclusive summary. Revisit the initial objectives, recap key findings, and emphasize the overall success or significance of the case.
This section should leave a lasting impression on your readers, reinforcing the value of the presented information.
Case Study Methods
The methods employed in case study writing are diverse and flexible, catering to the unique characteristics of each case. Here are common methods used in case study writing:
Conducting one-on-one or group interviews with individuals involved in the case to gather firsthand information, perspectives, and insights.
Directly observing the subject or situation to collect data on behaviors, interactions, and contextual details.
- Document Analysis
Examining existing documents, records, reports, and other written materials relevant to the case to gather information and insights.
- Surveys and Questionnaires
Distributing structured surveys or questionnaires to relevant stakeholders to collect quantitative data on specific aspects of the case.
- Participant Observation
Combining direct observation with active participation in the activities or events related to the case to gain an insider's perspective.
Using multiple methods (e.g., interviews, observation, and document analysis) to cross-verify and validate the findings, enhancing the study's reliability.
Immersing the researcher in the subject's environment over an extended period, focusing on understanding the cultural context and social dynamics.
Case Study Format
Effectively presenting your case study is as crucial as the content itself. Follow these formatting guidelines to ensure clarity and engagement:
- Opt for fonts that are easy to read, such as Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman.
- Maintain a consistent font size, typically 12 points for the body text.
- Aim for double-line spacing to maintain clarity and prevent overwhelming the reader with too much text.
- Utilize bullet points to present information in a concise and easily scannable format.
- Use numbered lists when presenting a sequence of steps or a chronological order of events.
- Bold or italicize key phrases or important terms to draw attention to critical points.
- Use underline sparingly, as it can sometimes be distracting in digital formats.
- Choose the left alignment style.
- Use hierarchy to distinguish between different levels of headings, making it easy for readers to navigate.
If you're still having trouble organizing your case study, check out this blog on case study format for helpful insights.
Case Study Examples
If you want to understand how to write a case study, examples are a fantastic way to learn. That's why we've gathered a collection of intriguing case study examples for you to review before you begin writing.
Case Study Research Example
Case Study Template
Case Study Introduction Example
Amazon Case Study Example
Business Case Study Example
APA Format Case Study Example
Psychology Case Study Example
Medical Case Study Example
UX Case Study Example
Looking for more examples? Check out our blog on case study examples for your inspiration!
Benefits and Limitations of Case Studies
Case studies are a versatile and in-depth research method, providing a nuanced understanding of complex phenomena.
However, like any research approach, case studies come with their set of benefits and limitations. Some of them are given below:
Tips for Writing an Effective Case Study
Here are some important tips for writing a good case study:
- Clearly articulate specific, measurable research questions aligned with your objectives.
- Identify whether your case study is exploratory, explanatory, intrinsic, or instrumental.
- Choose a case that aligns with your research questions, whether it involves an individual case or a group of people through multiple case studies.
- Explore the option of conducting multiple case studies to enhance the breadth and depth of your findings.
- Present a structured format with clear sections, ensuring readability and alignment with the type of research.
- Clearly define the significance of the problem or challenge addressed in your case study, tying it back to your research questions.
- Collect and include quantitative and qualitative data to support your analysis and address the identified research questions.
- Provide sufficient detail without overwhelming your audience, ensuring a comprehensive yet concise presentation.
- Emphasize how your findings can be practically applied to real-world situations, linking back to your research objectives.
- Acknowledge and transparently address any limitations in your study, ensuring a comprehensive and unbiased approach.
To sum it up, creating a good case study involves careful thinking to share valuable insights and keep your audience interested.
Stick to basics like having clear questions and understanding your research type. Choose the right case and keep things organized and balanced.
Remember, your case study should tackle a problem, use relevant data, and show how it can be applied in real life. Be honest about any limitations, and finish with a clear call-to-action to encourage further exploration.
However, if you are having issues understanding how to write a case study, it is best to hire the professionals. Hiring a paper writing service online will ensure that you will get best grades on your essay without any stress of a deadline.
So be sure to check out case study writing service online and stay up to the mark with your grades.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of a case study.
The objective of a case study is to do intensive research on a specific matter, such as individuals or communities. It's often used for academic purposes where you want the reader to know all factors involved in your subject while also understanding the processes at play.
What are the sources of a case study?
Some common sources of a case study include:
- Archival records
- Direct observations and encounters
- Participant observation
- Facts and statistics
- Physical artifacts
What is the sample size of a case study?
A normally acceptable size of a case study is 30-50. However, the final number depends on the scope of your study and the on-ground demographic realities.
Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)
Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.
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