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Writing a Case Study – Where to Start?

The better you understand what is a case study paper, the faster you learn how to make it right. A case study is an analytical piece and can be used in any academic discipline.

It investigates a particular person, group, place, event or some kind of subject of analysis in depth for the purpose of drawing a larger conclusion and reveal new issues that can be effectively tapped into practice. It contains massive research and application of knowledge, concepts, and theories commonly discussed in the field of study.

In addition, a case study paper can also examine two or more than two subjects, be comparative and show relationships between them. Case studies typically examine the interplay of all variables in order to provide as complete understanding of an event or situation as possible.

Usually, case studies include descriptive research, analysis of a particular situation, and show conclusions in the context of the situation. The main goal of such study is to expand the understanding of the studied phenomenon, either within the framework of a specific instance or as a common issue.

Types of Case Studies

There are many systems and methods used by a researcher to lead case studies. Under the complicated category of case study exist a number of types, each of which is custom selected for use depending upon the objectives of the explorer.

There are many different kinds of case studies, such as: illustrative (description of events), critical instance (examines particular subject with the cause and effect outcomes), program implementation, exploratory (investigative), program effects, perspective, narrative, medical, cumulative (collective information comparisons) and embedded.

Let’s emphasize the most widely used types of case studies:

  • Illustrative Case Studies

Illustrative Case Studies are used to describe a situation or a phenomenon, which is happening and why it is happening. This is often helpful when the study is addressing a target audience that is uninformed about the topic.

These studies serve to introduce the reader or audience to a concept and give them the idea about the topic in a most understandable way.

  • Exploratory Case Studies

Exploratory Case Studies should be used to come to an educated initial perception of what is going on in a situation. These are condensed case studies performed before accomplishing a large-scale investigation. Their basic function is to offer insight into a situation and help to develop analytic strategies, identify questions, measures, designs, and goals.

This type of study improves confidence about the researcher’s knowledge and understanding of a situation and what has been observed.

  • Cumulative Case Studies

Alternatively to many types of case studies, a Cumulative Case Study does not focus on one source over an extended period of time. Instead, this type of study aggregate information from various resources. Cumulative Case Studies save the researcher resources and time, as the data that will be processed has already been collected and the previous studies have already been completed.

These studies provide a greater generalization of the results of the multiple case studies.

  • Critical Instance Case Studies

Critical Instance Case Studies are ideal for examining a specific situation or event, concentrating on just one or very few sources. As a result of focusing on a certain event or situation, these studies are used to deeply explore that one case rather than attempting to generalize.

Designing a Case Study

After considering the various types of case studies and identifying a theoretical perspective, researchers can begin to design their studies. There are some useful tips that will help you write your case study without difficulty.

Generally, writing a case study deals with at least four points:

  1. What questions to study?
  2. What information is relevant?
  3. What data to collect?
  4. How to analyze the material?

Also, make a point of five basic components of a research design:

  1. A study’s questions.
  2. A study’s propositions.
  3. A study’s units of analysis.
  4. The logic linking of the data to the propositions.
  5. The criteria for interpreting the findings.

Furthermore, it’s essential to emphasize the value of clearly articulating one’s theoretical perspective, selecting one’s subject, determining the goals of the study, selecting the appropriate method of collecting information, including graphics, statistics and giving some reasoning to the composition of the final report.

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  4. Neale, P., Thapa, S., & Boyce, C. (2006). Preparing a case study: A guide for designing and conducting a case study for evaluation input. Watertown, MA: Pathfinder International. Retrieved from: