What is a case study ?
A case study is a description of a real life problem or situation which requires you to analyse the main issues involved. These issues need to be discussed and related to the academic literature and/or research findings on the topic and conclusions then drawn about why the situation occurred and how best to respond to it.
Why do we write case study responses?
A case study is a way to apply the theoretical knowledge gained from the academic literature to real life situations that you may encounter in your work.
Writing a case study response enables you to
- analyse the issues in a real life situation,
- apply the knowledge gained from your academic reading and research and
- draw conclusions about how to respond as a professional to that situation.
How to write a case study response
Before you start writing, you need to carefully read the case study and make a note of the main issues and problems involved as well as the main stakeholders (persons or groups of persons who have an interest in the case).
A case study response would include the following elements:
Introduce the main purpose of the case study and briefly outline the overall problem to be solved.
Write a brief description of the case under discussion giving an outline of the main issues involved. Always assume that your reader knows nothing of the assignment task and provide enough information to give a context for your discussion of the issues.
Discuss the issues raised one by one, using information gained from your research of the academic literature.
Your discussion may include:
- an outline of the issue and its implications for or relationship to different stakeholders
- how that issue links to theories or research in the academic literature
- suggested solutions or ideas
- evaluation of the solutions or ideas for this particular case
Conclusion / Recommendations
Finally, sum up the conclusions that you have come to and give recommendations to resolve the case. Give reasons for your recommendations.
Checklist for a case study response
- Carefully read the case and noted the main issues and stakeholders in the case?
- Written a brief description of the case to give your readers a context for the main issues?
- Discussed each issue with reference to the academic literature?
- Evaluated the solutions or ideas for each issue to find the ones most suitable?
- Made final recommendations of how to resolve the case?
- Used a well structured introduction, body and conclusion?
- Cited and referenced all of the work by other people?
- Used correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, clear presentation and appropriate reference style?
Monash University – How to write the case study
University of New South Wales – Writing a Case Study Report in Engineering
Guidelines for Writing a Case Study Analysis
A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem, examine the alternative solutions, and propose the most effective solution using supporting evidence. To see an annotated sample of a Case Study Analysis, click here.
Preparing the Case
Before you begin writing, follow these guidelines to help you prepare and understand the case study:
- Read and examine the case thoroughly
- Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems.
- Focus your analysis
- Identify two to five key problems
- Why do they exist?
- How do they impact the organization?
- Who is responsible for them?
- Uncover possible solutions
- Review course readings, discussions, outside research, your experience.
- Select the best solution
- Consider strong supporting evidence, pros, and cons: is this solution realistic?
Drafting the Case
Once you have gathered the necessary information, a draft of your analysis should include these sections:
- Identify the key problems and issues in the case study.
- Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1–2 sentences.
- Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues.
- Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study.
- Outline possible alternatives (not necessarily all of them)
- Explain why alternatives were rejected
- Why are alternatives not possible at this time?
- Proposed Solution
- Provide one specific and realistic solution
- Explain why this solution was chosen
- Support this solution with solid evidence
- Concepts from class (text readings, discussions, lectures)
- Outside research
- Personal experience (anecdotes)
- Determine and discuss specific strategies for accomplishing the proposed solution.
- If applicable, recommend further action to resolve some of the issues
- What should be done and who should do it?
Finalizing the Case
After you have composed the first draft of your case study analysis, read through it to check for any gaps or inconsistencies in content or structure: Is your thesis statement clear and direct? Have you provided solid evidence? Is any component from the analysis missing?
When you make the necessary revisions, proofread and edit your analysis before submitting the final draft. (Refer to Proofreading and Editing Strategies to guide you at this stage).