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How to Write a Case Study – There are Rules!

August 20, 2015 - Posted to Dissertation and its parts

Content 1

How To Write A Case Study

If you have never produced a case study before, you are in for a unique experience - one that most grad students in business, economics, sociology, psychology, political science, education, and health care/medicine will have. Let’s begin with a basic definition:

A case study is the procedure of selecting a real world situation in its context and then studying it relative to very specific questions. Questions such as why is this, how can it be, what caused this, why is this the outcome are typical of case studies. So, if you are asking what is case study research, this, essentially, is it.

There are, however, guidelines that determine how you approach a case study, how you research it, and how you come to conclusions about it, and they involve 4 very important steps.

Define Your Case

Your case may be a person, a condition, an organization, a phenomenon – something that exists within its real world context about which you have a question. Some typical example questions might be:

  • Why was there a decrease in crime in this specific neighborhood?
  • How did this business revive itself and become profitable again?
  • Why did this candidate win his/her election?
  • Why was the immunization campaign so successful in this city?

Your research question for a case study is very different from that you might prepare for a thesis or dissertation, and you are not, at this point, to posit any hypothesis. You are starting with a “blank sheet.”

Literature Review

The next step in writing a case study involves a review of literature, so that you can determine where and under what conditions did similar phenomena occur? What factors were identified that created the condition? This will be helpful as you begin to identify what you specifically want to look at in your study.

Collect Your Data

Now you are ready to study your own case. This will be primarily qualitative research, as you will not be providing any kind of treatment, nor will you have experimental and control groups or random samplings. Your data will come from observations, interviews, surveys, and possibly documents and archival records.

From all of this, you will begin your case study analysis, looking at all of the factors and developing perhaps multiple hypotheses which you will then compare to other similar case studies that you researched. Are there common factors? Did those researchers find the same things that you did? From this, you can these move onto your last step.


These are vitally important, if your research is to inform other researchers and, more important, practitioners in the field who want to replicate the phenomenon you just studied. For example, if you determined that there were very specific community and policing programs in place that caused the decrease in crime in a neighborhood, then this information will be very valuable for other neighborhood leaders to have.

Now you have the basics on how to write a case study. As you can see, it really can be an intriguing project if you choose a case in which you have a deep interest. Writing it all up, on the other hand, can be difficult. If you have problems in this regard, let TrustedDissertations.com step in an help.

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