How to write a case study outline and examples

How to write a case study outline and examples

You are assigned a research assignment by your institution about a situation that is occurring within your locality. The research assignment should be presented in a case study outline. Your lecturer also requires you to define the research method used and give its examples.

This should not be difficult for you because, in this article, you will learn about the case study outline, its elements, and formats.  We will also discuss how to write a great case study paper and give examples of case studies in various fields. In other words, this is a guide to a professional case study paper.

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What is a case study?

The case study definition is the intensive investigation of an individual, group, or event in order to obtain data. It can also be described as an organized investigation of a particular person, group, or unit that uses resources that may benefit them.

A case study is used in social science and medical disciplines such as anthropology, medicine, psychology, and social work. In these fields, the researcher obtains data by observing a person, group, or event in order to analyze results that will help predict future events or provide solutions for a problem.

The case study is also used in the marketing field in order to provide solutions that may help improve the company’s brand. It is also used to research B2B sales decisions and improve their sales.

A case study outline is different from a research outline in that it gives in-depth details of the problem under investigation.  It examines the method used to obtain the data and provides detailed observations from the field of study. This is why case studies are commonly used in law, medicine, and psychology.

A case study is therefore considered to be helpful because of its thorough information.  Its results are reliable and clear, hence considered realistic for the research study. An average case study is estimated to be about 900 words, which is shorter compared to a research paper.

Types of case studies

There are different types of case studies, which are categorized according to the topic under study. The common types of case studies include historical case studies, problem-oriented case studies, critical case studies, cumulative case studies, and illustrative case studies.

Historical case study

It is a type of case study that is used for historical research. Historical occurrences tend to have different views and perspectives from various sources. Hence, a case study is recommended since it covers a wide range of ideas and research methods.

Problem-oriented case study

It is a case study that is used to solve problems. They are majorly initiated with theoretical occurrences where you need to indulge yourself in order to examine it. Once you get the ideas, you work out possible solutions for the problem. Problem-oriented case studies are important for social and economic situations.

Illustrative case study

It is a type of case study that gives an in-depth description of certain occurrences, investigates them, and provides lessons learned from the event. They are mostly used in marketing departments.

Cumulative case study

This case study collects data from a large number of people and compares them. In the marketing field, this case study is used to inform the customers about the worth of their product.

Critical case study

This type of case study gives details about the cause and effects of the topic under research.  They are mostly used in the medical field to determine the cause of a disease outbreak.

How to write a case study

To write a case study, you need to conduct research first. This is possible by extensively reading from written sources and comparing your findings with your ideas to obtain a solution. As a result, a case study can be quite time-consuming.  

An effective case study should then have a co-relation between theory and the actual situation. This means that the theory studied should be practical in real-time situations. With that, you should consider the following steps if you want to write a successful case study paper.

1.      State your objective

The objective is the reason behind the topic under research. It also explains how the case study is to be portrayed either through a video, written document, or a podcast.

2.      Establish the people or events that should be investigated

Whether performed in a small or large locality, you should seek permission or quotes from the authority to perform your research. When approved, you can move on to the next step.

3.      Examine the challenges

You should examine the challenges that you may encounter from your research. This is important because acknowledging them will help you find solutions to overcome them. If they are unavoidable, you can find alternative methods to perform your research.

4.      Assemble your sources of information

You should write down the important facts and information from your sources. Note that you can add the ideas that you may have obtained from your sources.

5.      Note down your ideas and solutions

Once you have the information from your sources, you can brainstorm from them and identify their relationship to the problem under study. You can then think of solutions and derive conclusions and recommendations for your case study. Once you have completed all this information, you can record it in your case study in the final draft.

Elements of a case study

Case studies are important because they provide extensive details of the research. Therefore, they require the following six elements to become a great case study.

1. Headline

The case study outline should have a headline that depicts the goal of the research. The headline should be qualitative and powerful enough to attract people to read the case study paper. If creating a headline is difficult for you, you can consider drafting the basic phrases, add the details and combine them to create a headline.

2. Include charts and graphs

Including charts and graphs in your case study paper makes it more convincing and gives more details to your story. If the research is presented in PowerPoint or a video, the graphs and charts are very effective in portraying the statistics. If it is presented in a podcast, you can alternate voicing out the statistics.

3. Recognize the research area

In addition to that, your case study paper should be the voice of your research. It should acknowledge the institution and the locality that the research was done.

4. The paper should be short and sweet

Despite the fact that a case study paper is detailed, it should be short enough for the skimmers to read. It should also be interesting for the readers so that they are not be easily distracted. In order to achieve this, you should adopt the Challenge, Solution, Results mechanism to make your paper short yet detailed and attention-grabbing.

5. add multimedia to your presentation

If possible, you can add videos, images, and audio to your case study. It is a fact that pages on social media get more views and followers when videos are uploaded. The readers and viewers thus get a better glimpse of the research topic and attract their attention even further, as compared to a plain written paper.

6. The story should be relevant and realistic

The solutions and implementations to the topic under study should be applicable in real-time. They should therefore not be theoretical. The references of the information used should also be real and evident in the citation.

With the above elements and the right audience, your case study outline will be successful and convincing. The benefits of using the above elements are that they convince the audience, they show your enthusiasm for the research topic and provide alternative solutions and recommendation for the problem under study.

Case Study Format

The format of a case study paper is not that different from a research paper since it fully investigates the problem and concludes with new solutions for the research topic. They, however, have a little comparison from each other that should be noted. Below is the case analysis format.

1.      Introduction

Just like a research paper, a case study paper starts with an introduction. The introduction should include a general summary of the case study. Write down the details about the topic under research and the thesis statement of what you would want to accomplish from the research.

2.      Background

Your case study paper should include a description of the topic you are researching. This should involve the important facts pertaining to the research topic and the theory used for investigation.

3.      The case evaluation

This section includes findings on issues pertaining to the research topic, their analysis, and the facts supporting them. It should also explain why they are affecting the research topic as well as give details on how data was obtained.

4.      Proposed solutions

After the problems and issues have been discussed, it is upon the researcher to propose solutions that will solve the problem. You should also explain why and how these proposed solutions should be used to solve the problem.

5.      Conclusion

In this section, you should sum up your main points from the evaluation of the topic to the proposed solutions.

6.      Recommendations

These are the solutions that should be implemented in order to solve the problem at hand. Here you need to explain why you recommend the chosen solutions to be used to solve the problem. Therefore, they need to be convincing.

7.      Implementation

This section of the case study paper should explain what should be done, by which individual or group, and at what time. If possible, you can estimate the financial cost duration it will take to solve the problem.

8.      References

In this section, you should correctly cite the references in order to prove the source of your information. This can be either in APA, Chicago, Harvard, or MLA.

Examples of a Case Study

There are a number of case study examples in various fields. They can be found in the research fields or on the internet. These case studies help discover some of the problems in the psychology cases. Examples of a case study used in the psychology field are:

Bertha Pappenheim, whose alias name was Anna O., was a patient of a physician called Josef Breuer. They used her case to study her condition which was later discovered to be hysteria. Their result was that talking to her helped ease her symptoms. This eventually became the discovery of talk therapy and advancement to cure mental illnesses.

Genie was a young girl who was exposed to horrendous abuse and isolation. Researchers took it upon themselves to perform a case study on her on whether she could learn new behavior. This case study, however, was unsuccessful because her condition became worse.

Another example of a case study is the nurses’ pediatric pain management practices. It was used to find out how nurses managed pain felt by children. It also investigated how nurses felt about pain management tasks.

There is also a case study on the quality of care for patients by nurses. It included interviews with nurses practicing at the Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics. It was used to investigate the quality of care that patients received in healthcare departments from nurses and the challenges that hinder nurses from providing it.

Case study analysis is also used in the marketing department to obtain results from customers that will help improve their brand. Examples of companies that have performed the case study include Nike, Apple, and Microsoft among other companies.

Case Study Templates

Case study templates are guides that direct you on how to write your paper. There are a number of sites that provide free templates or require a subscription fee to provide templates. They can then be easily modified to meet your project needs.

You should choose a template that goes along with the research topic. You cannot use a psychology case study for marketing research. The template should also be attractive and colorful so as to capture the readers’ eyes. Below are examples of templates that can be used for case studies.

Summary

A case study is the intensive investigation of an individual, group, or event to obtain information. It is used as a research method to find solutions to problems or to predict future trends.  There are different types of case studies which include historical case studies, problem-oriented case studies, illustrative case studies, cumulative and critical case studies.

For you to write a convincing case study outline, you need to apply the format and the elements of the case study paper for it to gain the readers or audience’s interest. If the case study is for marketing or social science purposes, you need to apply the basic and essential rules of the case study to obtain meaningful results.

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