Case study is a method of analysis for examining a problem, and can also be termed as a specific research design to conduct an experiment or a procedure. In order to examine a problem, case studies are designed to focus specific research and analysis to reflect understanding the most prevailing circumstances leading to the problem. They are also good an effective tool in teaching any discipline.

Case studies are documentations that explain situations of the area taken up for study in a practical and detailed manner. They explain all the events, people involved, observations, facts and conclusions about a case by thorough examination. Places, events, phenomena or even a person or institution are examined in order to understand and analyze subject or target problem. Another way to understand the case studies as bridge between theory and practice, between academy and workplace that can be provide a means to understand the problem and subject with greater clarity. By working on a case study, one can predict the future events related to the case, find out hidden links and mysteries about it, examine the evidences or facts and establish a research paper with a better accuracy.

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How to begin a case study?

A good case study depends upon a strong case to investigate, which may seem as the hardest decision to go forward with.  Analytical research and data for the case study may very well come from one’s own profession. Case studies are used primarily in the field of law, medicine and business, but they have applications in other fields too. To take a case which would make a good case study, keep in mind the following points to consider. These will help you evaluate the case and make a better decision.

The tasks should be defined before it is taken as case study. A checklist can work as a guide to begin first time right case study. Course notes, references texts or text books or any other readings from primary or secondary research available on the subject matter or problem area may also help defining the task. Already published case studies or online collections of studies related to the problems or related areas may also be a good instrument in developing the idea that helps precisely defining the task of case study. This all becomes highly significant as identifying a case that would be started with an investigation requires much more than choosing a research problem.

Uniqueness of the case study is another signature that catches the readers’ attention and guarantees a longer span of attention. A unique case study represents an unusual example of research problem that requires more in-depth analysis which in-turn likely to provide important insight to illuminate a previously hidden problem. Case studies become reading worthy when they challenge the existing perspective of the problem or its area and are capable enough to offer a counter-point to prevailing situations and assumptions. A case study would be remembered if they offer a new direction or break through for future research.

Format to present the case study may be next important step to determining or preparing the case study. Formats are good vehicle to carry out content and intent of the student or person taking up the case study. They are there to shape a real and engaging story presented in the case study which raise a thought provoking issue that may trigger a conflict when publish.

Determination of the problem and definition of the task now require good compelling and convincing introduction. A good introduction illustrates a road map for the readers to ascertain the purpose and scope of the study along with significance of the problem.

A structured reference study material related to the case study taken up structure of available related literature for review to understand the problem with better clarity. This literature review provides background information and triggering new interpretation of historical perspective of the problems.

Research methods taken up in the studying, understanding, and analyzing the problem needs to be stated, explained or illustrated to convince the readers enable their grasp on the problem and its subject. Determining the subject of analysis as an incident or event or analysis of a person,or place, or phenomenon greatly help the student to put forward the intent and content of the research taken up in the case study.

Taking up which research method would best present the defined task of the case study after choosing the problem to understand and analyze, a good format and well describe introduction is determined to present the case study. Following aspects are to be considered for choosing and introducing a problem for case study taken up to ensure the entirety and quality of the case study.

  1. Are all the facts and evidences linked to the case discovered?

The base of any case lies in the evidence which supports it. To choose your content, make sure that the proofs, facts and other things linked to the case are accessible and have been discovered. Without the evidences, it is difficult to conclude a case study with a justified end. If you take up a case which has some missing pieces of the story, make sure you are able to find out the remaining evidences. For example, during the case study of excavation of the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun by Howard carter, he did not have many facts to unlock the mystery behind the young pharaoh’s death and the tomb. He collected the evidences himself, examined them and explained the world about the pharaoh, through his research.

  1. What are the possibilities and applications of the case?

A positive and a curious tale is welcomed by all, as it creates an urge to know more about it. A case study may or may not have such a possibility to conduct further research on it. Hence, make it a point to think well on this. Most of the case studies have a further scope of research on the same topic, as each case study has various applications. It might be used to collect exploratory tools or to predict the future of the case. Knowing the possibilities of the future of your case helps better to set the direction of your research. For example, the case study of the harmful impacts of acid rain on Taj Mahal in India was helpful in various ways, as it helped to know the amount of damage done to the monument, and also provided a firm step to ban the chemical factories in the vicinity of Taj Mahal. Further research can be conducted on the same too, in a regular interval to know the status of the monument’s conditions.

  1. Are the facts collected for research and analyzing the problem challenging or agreeing the common perceptions about the case?

Each case has a for or an against say for it. You can either go with the flow of the assumptions about the case, or challenge them with prior evidences. It is a must to decide while taking up the topic itself whether you support it or rise against it, as this further gives directions to the facts and evidences that you collect. They can be either supporting or not, which depends on the favor of your topic. Hence, it is important to consider and evaluate the basic information you collect and decide your view.

  1. Is the available information enough?

Another important aspect of a case study is the data you collect, which can make or break the entire case study. A thorough investigation of the case can help you decide whether you need further research to examine the case, or the information you collected is sufficient. As stated earlier, facts and evidences are extremely important to discuss and prove your point in a case study.

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how to design an effective Harvard style case study

Guiding points on Introduction

Case study is performed to conduct an in-depth research and analysis to establish a new perceptive of the research case. The introduction should introduce your topic clearly to the reader, explaining all of the following points:

  1. Importance and significance of the topic

Relevance of the research is a must to be explained, as to why is it important to know more about it, how is it appropriate and what benefit will it give to study your particular case.

  1. Thesis statement

One of the most powerful parts of a case study is the thesis statement, which declares the main objective of conducting the case study and the information it will provide. To make a good case study, you should frame a fine thesis statement, explaining your purpose of research.

  1. Prior facts known before your research

The case usually has some facts or beliefs about it, which are known to the people. It is necessary to mention them in the introduction, and how you will be supporting or challenging them. This helps in stating the favor of your case study, whether you are for or against the topic.

  1. Contribution to knowledge and its applications

How will your research help people, add to the knowledge and help in better application of the case? It is important to mention these facts in the introduction itself.

Review of literature for building a case study

For analyzing the information and evidences of a case in your own way, it is necessary to study the existing background information on the topic and understanding all its aspects and interpretations of the topic.

Collect your information and go through them well. While explaining about them in the literature review for your case study, consider these points:

  1. Mention the most prominent information and the sources which hold importance in your research.
  2. Clear the contradictions, if any, among the previous studies conducted. This helps you in clearing your direction to explain further work too.
  3. Talk about the missing pieces of the previous research, if any, and their significance in the research.
  4. Try finding the position of your own research in the existing information. Make sure you are adding something new and useful to the current information.

Building Main content for the case study

The most important part of your case study is the content. A detailed explanation must be first mentioned, regarding the reason why you chose this topic. Depending on the type of subject chosen the case study should have points as following:

  1. For an event or incident

A detailed description of the event must be given in the beginning of the main body, explaining the incidents in order of their occurrence, people involved in it, historical significance, evidences to prove the facts etc. further it should be continued with your research and the analysis of the situations, defining in the end what you have concluded from the event. For example, a case study on the evolution of man and the possible future predictions must first explain the relevant existing information on the topic, what researches have been done and their significance. After this step, you may proceed with your own work.

  1. Analysis of a person

Identify the area of the person’s life which you have chosen to work upon, and then go in depth about it. describe the events, ideas and relations of the person related to the topic, which brings further clarity to the case study. Also, it is important to justify the reason behind choosing the person for your analysis.

  1. Study of a scientific work

Case studies are most prominently used for scientific fields, such as technology, inventions, medicines etc. an experiment should be explained in the order of the occurrence of events, describing its importance for the mankind and its procedure in depth. If there is a similar work already existing to your experiment or invention, you must clear the confusions and explain the points about how your work differs from others.

Writing the Conclusion of case study

A conclusion should state the result of your research and support it with good evidences and information to support it. it is also important to explain that how have you contributed further in the field of your case study and the benefits of your analysis. This justifies the objective of your case study.

The key to write a good case study is to make it a self explanatory work through relevant information and a good detail about the entire research.

 Have you ever designed and/or used a case study for your classroom teaching in offline or online learning mode ? We would love to know your experience about it.

In case you are looking for a quick guide on how to effectively use and integrate case study as a teaching learning tool in an online classroom, don’t forget to check out this blog

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