Following are the main steps to write a case study;
- Step-by-Step Process to Write a Case Study
- Case Study Outline
- Develop and Write Your Case
- Write up all References
- Revision of Case Study
- Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing the Case Study
In simple words, one might say that the case relates to some real-life subject/state while the study is considered as the latter analysis. If you are going to write your very first case study, you need to understand what can be the main focus of the case study. The main subject or focus of the case study may be a project or organization, a period of time or an event, a person or a group of persons.
The case studies we often read are usually boring or most of the time uninspiring. In fact, there is a huge difference between how to write a case study and how to write a case study that persuades and is memorable. The way of writing it defines in which category it falls. So, it is really necessary for you to ensure you are familiar with the right way of writing the case study, before you start writing it. Here is it for you. The first step of the process is formulate the accurate path, the second step is interview preparation, the third one is gather pool of information and the last but not the least step is to start writing your case study.
You may also Study: Format of a Case Study
Two Approaches to Write the Case Study
Basically, there are two main approaches to writing the case studies. The first approach of writing a case study is an analytical approach and the second approach of writing it is problem oriented.
- In analytical case studies, the writer only explores the basics of the main topic and reasons why it happened. Generally, it doesn’t state solutions to the problems.
- In problem-oriented case studies, along with stating the key issues, solutions are also suggested accordingly, as per the knowledge of the writer.
Step-by-Step Process to Write a Case Study
Here is the step-by-step process defined to write a case study effectively.
Step #1: Formulate the Accurate Path
When it comes to how to write a case study, the very first step is to formulate the accurate path for yourself so that you could have a clear understanding of what you want to do, even before taking a start. The whole process in this step is further divided into three basic steps.
The first step requires you to familiarize yourself with the case study type, style as well as the design, keeping in mind the intended audience. The second step requires you to choose a concise and accurate topic for your case study. A few people ask why the selection of topic at this stage is important. The reason is that choosing the topic at this stage will let you have a clear understanding of your case. However, you can decide to make a little bit alterations in your topic later on, with the passage of time. The last but not the least thing is to search for the cases similar to your subject. You are supposed to search for similar cases and give all of them a good reading. Let’s have a look at the detailed view of all these steps.
Determine the Type, Style, and Design of Case Study
There are several case study types, styles as well as designs. In this regard, you need to determine all these things in advance, keeping in mind your intended audience so that you could have a clear path in front of you to follow.
The selection of the case study type entirely depends on the scenario but no matter what method you utilize, you must analyze your case thoroughly. Have a clear set of goals or objectives in advance and try to accomplish all of them. In fact, as mentioned above, the case study may be about a person, a group of persons or organizations etc but it could reveal all the unknown factors your case study is intended to reveal.
Keeping in mind your targeted audience, choose the topic of your case study now. You have chosen your angle and you know the path you need to follow. The only thing left is the selection of topic, keeping in mind all these things.
Selecting your case study topic is the most significant thing and overwhelming at the same time. The reason is that you might not find the accurate or ideal words for it. Invest a reasonable amount of time and energy in selecting the topic. You can get the idea from known case studies familiar to yours to know how they have crafted everything in a few words i.e. topic. Follow the different approach but be precise and exact. But, don’t worry at all as you can update it later on.
Search and read similar case studies
If it’s your first time, invest a reasonable amount of time in searching and reading the similar case studies as yours. In this regard, you can utilize the internet or the library to go through different cases. Be unique with your case and come up with something totally different and attention seeking. There is no use of replicating something.
Step #2: Interview Preparation
This is the second step of how to write a case study. At this stage, you need to make all the necessary arrangement to prepare yourself well for the interview. In this regard, this process is also subdivided into three basic steps, for your convenience to understand the entire process with ease.
The first step is the selection of the participants for your interview for your case study inclusion. You need to be very much careful and cautious while choosing. But as soon as you find the right candidates to interview, you must have a proper interview questions list to ensure you are not going to miss even a single query. This is the reason the second step is all about having a clear framework in your mind how you are going to conduct interviews, after choosing the right candidates for it. The last but not the least thing is to choose the experts in this scenario i.e. they must have a clear understanding of what you are doing and what they are supposed to do.
Selecting the best or ideal participants for the interview process, for sake of collecting the data, is the most important as well as the daunting task. You need to invest a lot of your time for this because you will not find an ideal group of people at your first try. The ideal people for interview are definitely those experts who are able to provide you with the most accurate information related to your case. So, only an expert or knowledgeable person can do that.
It is also important to get informed consent from all of the participants. You need to explain them well your goals and how they are supposed to contribute in your research.
While preparing for the interview, you may choose an individual to ask questions or a group of people in this regard. If your case somehow relates to personal issues, meeting with individuals is best in this scenario. On the other hand, you may choose to have a group of people. While the interview process, all of you may have healthy discussion altogether, which may lead you to have data collected and achieve the purpose. Try to collect as much as possible data because more the data, more it will be beneficial for your case.
There are three basic types of interviews, which are listed below:
Open-ended Interviews: In this kind of interviews, the interviewer and the interviewee directly talk to each other about the main subject. The interviewer asks as many queries as possible. Interviewee replies to every answer and adds to the new information, where necessary. The best recommendation for you in this regard is not to rely on just one source rather make sure to have multiple sources to have accurate information for your case study.
Focused Interviews: In this type of interviews, the interviewer asks a number of queries and interviewee only answer to those questions. The time period fixed for these interviews is usually short and there is no gain of new information rather these interviews are just supposed to confirm the already known facts.
Structured Interviews: In this type of interviews, collecting pool of data is considered essential from a large group of people rather than individuals. List of queries to ask is prepared in advance and answers are usually simple enough.
Craft a Framework to Conduct Interviews
Having an amazing collection of people for an interview is right but if you are in a situation where you don’t have prepared anything to ask them will lead you to the waste of time. So, crafting an ideal framework to conduct interviews in advance is really essential. In this way, you will have a straight and clear path to follow and the things will definitely go smooth.
Prepare a detailed list of queries to ask and decide the way you are going to conduct interviews, depending on your case. When you will be interviewing several people, either one by one, or all at once, you need to understand their answers or opinions so that it could be advantageous for you, otherwise, it won’t be of any use.
No matter what the subject is, you have to choose the subject matter experts. This is the only way you can ensure that you have all the well-informed informants. All of them must know what they are doing and what they are supposed to provide you i.e. the accurate information based on the reality grounds.
Step #3: Gather Pool of Information
While working on how to write a case study, this step is the most important one as this is the actual step as well. Here, you are meant to gather a pool of information from various sources.
The first way to collect the data is conducting interviews. The second source of collecting authentic information is from previous case studies (similar to yours), or from various other sources. Moreover, you can choose to collect as much data as you want at this step but including irrelevant or inaccurate information may lead to serious problems or even result in your case study failure.
No matter what type of interview you are going to conduct, you must have a list of pre-defined questions you need to ask from the interviewees. There are two basic reasons behind. The first one is that it will let you save lots of your time and the second one is that it will let you ask the same questions from all sources to have several perspectives on the same subject. Asking different queries from every individual will result in invaluable information.
Take your time and ask as many questions as you want until you are satisfied. You can ask them for the permissions to add the materials collected from them to your case study.
Authentic Information Collection From Several Sources
Other than interviews, there can be several sources which may let you gather a pool of information i.e. similar case studies, electronic media or library books etc. Try to organize everything perfectly in one place to make sure easy access to all the collected information, when writing a case study later in the next step.
Sort out all the information to extract only of your interest. The reason is that including all the information in your case study isn’t possible. Moreover, there can be some irrelevant or invaluable information as well in your collected information.
Step #4: Start Writing Case Study
The last but not the least step of the process how to write a case study is start writing as you are already done with enough data collection. This step is further divided into 3 steps.
While writing the case study, one might feel overwhelming where to start, where to end, what to include and what not to include or last but not the least thing, you might not know the ideal way to structure your case study. To assist you for this, here is a perfect structure for you to follow while writing the case study.
Case Study Outline
- Executive summary
- Alternatives and decision criteria
- Recommendations and implementation plan
- Conclusion and references
- Citing sources
The second step is to add references to your work. After that, at the third step, you are supposed to perform editing in your case study. You can get to know if your case study requires any additions or deletions while proofreading it, which is the most essential thing to do. A lot of people skip this step or consider it just a formality but proofreading your work properly let you know the shortcomings of your case study.
Develop and Write Your Case
While writing your case study, you must keep in mind that at this stage, you are going to write down your thoughts and ideas collected previously onto the paper. It gives your research the unique but concrete words. The main focus of this section is to develop the ideas in an amazing manner to write rather than focusing on paraphrasing, grammar mistakes or spellings etc. The reason is that all these things are going to be covered later, after you are done writing your case.
Covering a thorough introduction of your case, writing background i.e. how you got idea about this specific case to write, true and accurate presentation of your entire case and conclusion are really crucial to include in your case study. As in the above-listed structure, all other elements are essential to add too but these are the four key elements that combine to form a perfect case study, if elaborated well.
While writing, keep your intended audience in mind and write everything accordingly. You are already done with lots of research and you have now a pool of information. Here, you are just meant to draft all of the collected information into a case, in a fantastic manner.
Write up all References
Writing anything without any references mean that you claim that you have formulated this or presented this. If it’s not true, your case study may be the biggest failure or all of your time may be wasted.
To avoid such a scenario, always add references to all the sources and this is more important as compared to everything else.
Revision of Case Study
Revision is the most vital part of the process of how to write a case study. The reason is that, while writing, your main focus is to develop and narrow down your ideas rather than perfect grammar. So, you make a lot of minor or most of the time, major mistakes as well. Revision is not supposed to be done only one time but three to four times at least. While revision, check that you have formulated your case study according to your outline and review each case closely to know if it meets its objectives or not.
One more amazing suggestion for you is to have someone else to give a good proofreading to your case. Other than objectives evaluation, the third person may also point out any minor or major mistakes, if any.
While revising your work, read it section by section and make sure that you read and understand everything perfectly. Once you are done revising it section by section, give it enough revision time again as a whole. Make sure everything is perfectly written and placed accordingly.
Make corrections side by side or just highlight them to correct all at once.
Common Mistakes to Avoid While Writing the Case Study
- If you choose to write a case study on a shaky premise, it will lead your case study to failure, so just avoid that.
- Don’t ever utilize the old collected data to write in your case study. Always collect fresh and up to date data.
- One of the frequent errors is to present the material in the wrong order.
- If you choose to extract data from other studies, it will result in repetition of data, which could lead your case study to failure.
- Not performing enough research yourself is another common mistake. A few people collect facts after a lot of hard work but fail to make notes, which also lead you to failure at the end.
- Poor language skills or use of inappropriate words to express your ideas and thoughts in case study gives a very bad impression.
- Errors in grammar, punctuation, and syntax are must to avoid as well.
- People start working on the process of how to write a case study without having a clear path. Understand your aims thoroughly and give it time as much as it wants. Then execute the entire process to achieve those aims.
So, it was all about the process of how to write a case study. There is nothing left now that you need to know to take a start. Take a deep breath and start working on it.
Lots of luck!