thesis project case study

All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study

thesis project case study

What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.

What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?

While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.

Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.

The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.

Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:

Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.

Types of Case Studies

The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:

Types of Case Studies

  • Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
  • Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
  • Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
  • Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
  • Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.

Case Study Format

The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:

  • Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
  • Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
  • Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
  • Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
  • Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
  • Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
  • References. Provide all the citations.

How to Write a Case Study

Let's discover how to write a case study.

How to Write a Case Study

Setting Up the Research

When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:

  • Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
  • Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
  • Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
  • Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
  • Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.


Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:

  • Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
  • Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
  • Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
  • Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
  • Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
  • Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
  • Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.

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Case Study Outline

Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.


  • Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
  • Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
  • Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
  • Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
  • Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
  • Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
  • Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
  • Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
  • Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
  • Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
  • Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
  • Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.

Writing a Case Study Draft

After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:

How to Write a Case Study

  • Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
  • In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
  • Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
  • Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
  • At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.

Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study

Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :

‍ With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.

Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.

Finalizing the Draft: Checklist

After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:

  • Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
  • Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
  • Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
  • Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?

Problems to avoid:

  • Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
  • Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
  • Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.

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How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study

Let's see how to create an awesome title page.

Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:

  • A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
  • The title should have the words “case study” in it
  • The title should range between 5-9 words in length
  • Your name and contact information
  • Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.

Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:

There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.

Citation Example in MLA ‍ Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA ‍ Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.

Case Study Examples

To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.

Eastman Kodak Case Study

Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany

To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .

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A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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Developing the PhD thesis project in relation to individual contexts: a multiple case study of five doctoral researchers

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  • Published: 17 June 2022
  • volume  85 ,  pages 1143–1160 ( 2023 )

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The early phase of doctoral education is a critical yet under-researched period in PhD programs, when doctoral researchers must solidify their thesis projects prior to embarking on data collection. What makes this time particularly challenging is that new doctoral researchers synthesize their research thinking while they are still learning the expectations and nature of PhD research. This study draws on Emirbayer and Mische’s ( 1998 ) chordal triad of agency to explore how PhD researchers’ goals and experiences (individual contexts) influence how they approach doctoral research and develop their thesis projects during the first year of the PhD. The results of this small-scale longitudinal multiple case study of five first-year UK PhD social science researchers suggest that there are at least three approaches PhD researchers may adopt in developing their research projects, influenced by personal histories and post-PhD goals—pragmatic/strategic, idealistic, and realistic. In turn, these approaches may change over time as PhD researchers acquire experience and encounter critical events. Implications include the need for attention to a diversity of PhD researchers’ needs and goals, which may necessitate additional support or training in tailored areas, and a call for questioning the capacity of PhD researchers to contribute to/stretch the structures surrounding thesis writing.

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

This study focuses on the individual experiences of five first-year social science PhD researchers at a UK university. In the UK as elsewhere, doctoral education has been recognized as central to the growing knowledge economy (Department for Education, 2017 ). The structure of UK doctoral programs has moved on from the apprenticeship model predominant in the 1980s to address concerns about attrition and career preparedness. It now includes integrated research training courses, graduate schools, research training courses, graduate schools, doctoral colleges, and doctoral training centers or partnerships (UK Council for Graduate Education, 2015 ). Alongside changes in training, the doctoral degree has diversified to include professional doctorates and thesis formats other than the traditional monograph—for instance, thesis by publication or integration. Current UK policy outlined in the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) Characteristics Statement declares that “All UK doctorates, regardless of their form, continue to require the main focus of the candidate's work to demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge” (QAA, 2020 , p. 3) and that doctoral graduates should be able to “think critically about problems to produce innovative solutions” as well as synthesize large bodies of information and communicate with diverse audiences (QAA, 2020 , p. 3). This policy statement sets the backdrop against which all UK doctorates should be assessed.

Transitioning into a doctoral program can be challenging, as PhD researchers must make the shift from consuming and analyzing knowledge to producing it (Lovitts, 2005 ; McPherson, et al., 2018 ). For those in the humanities and social sciences, engaging in a substantial piece of research also means a level of self-direction and isolation for which many PhD researchers do not feel prepared (Gardner, 2008 ). As such, doctoral education is often described as a transition from dependence to independence, associated with developing and taking on a new identity as a researcher (e.g., Green, 2005 ) and becoming part of the academic and disciplinary discourse community.

Existing research on the early stages of doctoral programs, meaning the phases prior to thesis data collection and writing, suggest that challenges of transitioning into the PhD include establishing a sense of belonging, learning the expectations of the disciplinary field, developing research and writing skills, gaining ownership over the work, and understanding the nature of the doctorate (Chatterjee-Padmanabhan & Nielson, 2018 ; Creely & Laletas, 2019 ; Fisher et al., 2020 ). At the same time, PhD researchers do not have identical experiences; variations in PhD researcher transitions can be attributed to diversity in prior educational and cultural experiences and ways of thinking (see analytical vs. practical intelligence, Lovitts, 2008 ), highlighting the importance of individual/personal factors in understanding how new doctoral researchers adapt to the PhD.

Given the often challenging and individual nature of PhD researcher transitions, this study aimed to explore how personal contexts and goals influence the experiences of five first-year PhD researchers in the UK, as they designed their social science thesis projects over the course of 1 year. At the institution in which this study took place, plans for the PhD research project are synthesized in a document (hereafter “Upgrade document”) that is submitted alongside institutional documents (e.g., ethics forms) and orally examined by two internal assessors in a process referred to as Upgrade, which typically takes place at the end of the first year. The content of the Upgrade document varies slightly by department but generally includes the questions, theoretical framework, literature, and methods guiding the thesis research.

It is important to note that in the UK, doctoral programs vary in structure across institutions and departments. The goal of this study is therefore to provide insight into the individual experiences of the participants at a single university and disciplinary cluster as they conceived of and composed their Upgrade documents in the first year of the doctorate. The research question guiding this study was:

How do first-year PhD researchers in the social sciences (at a single UK institution) shape and negotiate their Upgrade documents over time and in relation to their prior experiences and goals?

Doctoral writing and supervisor feedback

Research suggests that writing is a challenge for many doctoral researchers (Aitchison & Lee, 2007 ; Cameron, et al., 2009 ; Cotterall, 2011 ; Lee & Aitchison, 2009 ), particularly in the early stages of the PhD (Caffarella & Barnett, 2000 ). What makes PhD writing difficult is that it not only requires an understanding of the expectations and nuances of the thesis and other academic genres, but also necessitates the synthesis of disciplinary and methodological knowledge; writing is both an expression of and tool for thinking (Bazerman & Prior, 2004 ; Klein, 1999 ; Yore, et al., 2004 , 2006 ).

Although variation in writing practices and writing structures exist across disciplines (Carter, 2007 ), in general, research writing requires the writer to draw from and analyze multiple sources and concepts to create new knowledge in a process of meaning-making (Ivanic, 1998 ) that extends from the literature review through the writing up of results (Kamler & Thomson, 2014 ). In many ways, the writing process and the research process are intimately related, suggesting that researchers use writing to construct and present knowledge, vacillating between data collection, writing, analysis, and inquiry (Yore, et al., 2006 , p. 116). At the same time, many doctoral writers struggle to articulate—or legitimize—their personal voices within the web of academic writing structures (Naomi, 2021 ).

Supervisors support the doctoral researcher’s thesis research and writing, ideally guiding them towards becoming independent researchers and experts in their relevant fields (Pearson & Brew, 2002 ). Although PhD researcher experience is influenced by a network of personal and professional relationships (Hopwood, 2010 ), the supervisory relationship is perhaps the most critical in the PhD context, often influencing the overall experience of the program (Cotterall, 2015 ; Pyhalto et al., 2015 ).

The primary pedagogical approach utilized in supervision is that of feedback, a dialogic process providing information about disciplinary and institutional expectations and facilitating critical discussion (Anderson, et al., 2008 ; McAlpine & McKinnon, 2012 ). Argument, logic, language, and genre are common foci of supervisor comments (Basturkmen, et al., 2014 ; Can & Walker, 2014 ; Xu, 2017 ). Several studies focused primarily on international graduate students have examined how doctoral students interpret and respond to supervisor feedback (e.g., Wang & Li, 2011 ; Xu, 2017 ; Xu & Hu, 2020 ), finding that PhD researchers’ prior experience is linked to supervision needs and feedback responses. For instance, PhD researchers in the early stages of their research tend to require more support, preferring “directive, specific and consistent feedback” and are more likely to respond negatively to criticism (Wang & Li, 2011 ). In contrast, PhD researchers with greater confidence and stronger ownership of their work exhibit more positive attitudes towards challenging or critical feedback (Wang & Li, 2011 ). Graduate students may also resist feedback out of a desire to promote their “own agendas” (Vehviläinen, 2009 , p. 197) or a belief that changes are unnecessary (Xu, 2017 ), suggesting that responses to feedback may be linked to individual goals and provide evidence of agency.

PhD contexts and goals

Doctoral researchers bring their individual histories and goals for the future to their PhD study. Understanding how prior experience and goals influence perspectives of and approaches to doctoral research is important, and existing studies suggests that biographical factors may affect the extent to which PhD researchers can access disciplinary and research training cultures (Deem & Brehony, 2000 ), as well as how they cope with challenges (Hockey, 1994 ) and respond to supervisor feedback (Inouye & McAlpine, 2017 ). International PhD researchers, in particular, may have more difficulty accessing academic research cultures due to differences in language, cultural norms, higher education systems, and expectations for doctoral study (Deem & Brehony, 2000 ). For instance, case studies and self-studies on international PhD researchers suggest that doctoral researchers from non-Anglophone contexts (e.g., China/East Asia) may experience disparities between their earlier education experiences and the expectations of their PhD programs in English-speaking countries (Li, 2018 ; Soong, et al., 2015 ). Challenges may include taking ownership over the thesis and displaying typically Eurocentric “critical thinking” (Wu & Hu, 2020 ; Xu & Grant, 2017 ). Further, PhD researchers from Confucian-influenced cultures may be more reluctant to disagree with or “push” their supervisors for additional feedback due to differing expectations of supervisory relationships (Nguyen & Robertson, 2020 ). Likewise, they may focus on gaining deep understanding of expert texts rather than critiquing them (Chang & Strauss, 2010 ; Xu & Grant, 2017 ), reflecting differences in academic practices and varying forms of critical thought (see Chang & Strauss, 2010 ; Paton, 2005 ).

Motivations for undertaking PhD work and career goals may also influence how PhD researchers experience doctoral research. Interview-based research on motivations for undertaking PhD work (Brailsford, 2010 ; Gill & Hoppe, 2009 ; Guerin, et al., 2015 ; Leonard, et al., 2005 ; Skakni, 2018 ; Taylor, 2007 ) indicate that preconceived notions of the PhD and goals/motivations may fall into several categories, including career considerations, professional development, and personal and intellectual fulfillment. Evidence suggests that motivation influences the strategies used to approach the PhD as well as supervision preferences (Skakni, 2018 ; Taylor, 2007 ). For example, PhD researchers motivated by career aspirations were strategic and pragmatic about the PhD, concerned with quick progress and desiring supervisors who could guide them through the institutional requirements and facilitate work opportunities (Skakni, 2018 ).

PhD researcher agency: individual goals and contexts

This study draws on Emirbayer and Mische’s chordal triad of agency (1988) to examine how PhD researchers make decisions about how to develop their Upgrade documents in relation to the personal, institutional, and disciplinary contexts that influence their experiences of early-stage doctoral research and, more specifically, the Upgrade document. In social science, agency is typically understood as the capacity of individuals to act independently and has been theorized in different ways depending on the extent to which social structure is believed to facilitate or constrain that capacity. Aldrich ( 1999 ) succinctly described the problem of agency as “how much scope…people have for independence and creativity in the face of social structural constraints on their understanding and behavior” (p. 23). Research on PhD researchers’ agency has explored how PhD researchers exercise agency to develop their scholarly identity-trajectories (McAlpine, et al., 2014 ) and address academic and cultural hurdles through establishing and drawing on relationships (Cotterall, 2015 ; Hopwood, 2010 ), sharing their research (Nguyen & Robertson, 2020 ), and negotiating supervisory relationships and supervisor feedback (Inouye & McAlpine, 2017 ). Such studies provide a counter-narrative to traditional framings of PhD education that position doctoral researchers as undergoing a one-way socialization process into the institution and relevant discipline (see Hopwood, 2010 ).

The chordal triad of agency developed by Emirbayer and Mische ( 1998 ) builds upon the work of Mead ( 1932 ), defining agency as:

...the temporally constructed engagement by actors of different structural environments—the temporal-relational contexts of action—which, through the interplay of habit, imagination, and judgment, both reproduces and transforms those structures in interactive response to the problems posed by changing historical situations. (1998, p. 970)

Agency is thus expressed through human action in response to a given temporal-relational context. In each act of agency, three elements are at play: iteration, projectivity, and practical-evaluation. Iteration represents the past and is characterized by habitual acts in response to similar situations—schemas for action developed over time. Projectivity represents the future: the person’s plans and desires. As people encounter new situations, they adapt existing schemas in relation to their goals and imagine possible outcomes. Practical-evaluation represents the present, acknowledging the ways in which actions are embedded in the current evolving situation, representing “the capacity of actors to make practical and normative judgments among alternative possible trajectories of action” (p. 971). Most importantly, practical-evaluation provides for reflection, insight into one’s particular circumstances in relation to past and future, which may lead to changes in behavior.

Applied to PhD researchers, the chordal triad lends two key things. First, the iteration and projectivity elements draw attention to how prior experience and imagined futures/goals influence individual PhD researchers’ actions as they shape their plans for their thesis projects. Second, the practical-evaluation element allows for consideration of how PhD researchers’ temporal-relational contexts (e.g., new knowledge, additional feedback, and upcoming deadlines) change over time and influence how they evaluate and gain insight into their particular circumstances, which may potentially lead to changes in behavior: exercising agency to alter one’s contexts. In other words, as PhD researchers learn over time the expectations for the thesis project through supervisor feedback and other relevant interactions and experiences (the temporal-relational context), they adjust their actions in response to the new knowledge and in relation to prior experiences and goals.

This paper draws from a longitudinal (Ployhart & Vandenberg, 2010 ) multiple-case study in which each participant constituted a case. The study involved five participants from three social science departments at a large research-intensive university in the UK. At this institution, social science departments require first-year PhD researchers to submit a written document (“Upgrade document”) for oral assessment by two examiners, usually from the same department. Successful completion of this milestone—hereafter referred to as “Upgrade”—marks the PhD researcher’s transition into the data collection phase of research and confers full doctoral status. Although all academic departments require an Upgrade examination, the specific timings and requirements vary across disciplinary areas—for instance, the Upgrade document in natural science departments tends to be much shorter. In the three social science departments in which this study took place—Education, Geography, and Sociology—Upgrade typically occurs between 8 and 12 months after commencement of the PhD program. The submitted Upgrade document is a lengthy document of roughly 10,000 words, containing a literature review, conceptual framework, research questions, and methodology/research design. Upgrade can result in three possible outcomes, pass, minor corrections, and resubmit, and a PhD researcher has two opportunities to successfully complete Upgrade.

Data collection took place from October 2018 through December 2019. The participants were first-year PhD researchers. Four participants were recruited through email solicitation and one via snowball sampling. This study received ethical approval from the institution. Demographic characteristics of the participants are displayed in Table 1 .

Data included (1) a five-item demographic questionnaire, (2) semi-structured interviews, (3) drafts of the Upgrade document and other related writings, (4) written feedback from supervisors and, if relevant, peers, and (5) recordings of supervision meetings. However, for the purpose of this paper, the results will focus primarily on findings from the participant interviews.

Three types of interviews were conducted: (1) background interviews, (2) Upgrade document process interviews, and (3) concluding interviews. Background interviews, which took place shortly after each participant joined the study, focused on the participant’s prior experiences with writing, feedback, and social science research, as well as their reasons for doing a PhD, perceived challenges, and post-PhD career goals. The purpose of these interviews was to establish each participant’s individual historical context.

Upgrade document process interviews comprised most interview data in this study. These interviews were scheduled every 2 months at a mutually convenient time and place and focused on the participant’s ongoing work in relation to the Upgrade document, using written drafts of the Upgrade document and if relevant, other notes and documents, to provide examples of specific feedback and revisions. Finally, concluding interviews took place following each participant’s successful completion of the Upgrade examination. These interviews focused on the participants’ experience of Upgrade and reflections on the first year of the PhD.

Drafts and supervision recordings

In addition to the interviews, I collected drafts of the participants’ Upgrade documents and recorded supervision meetings with supervisor consent. Each participant was given the option to self-record their supervisions or to have me attend and record the supervisions. All interviews and supervision recordings were manually transcribed. Using MaxQDA 12 software, I created five separate folders, one for each participant. Each folder served to store the collected data, which were chronologically organized. The data were analyzed via a combination of a priori and emergent coding, situated within an overall narrative analysis. Data were analyzed first within-cases to capture variation in individual experience and then across cases to detect emerging patterns.

A priori coding

A priori codes (Saldana, 2013 ) were based on relevant department guidelines for a successful Upgrade and Emirbayer and Mische’s ( 1998 ) chordal triad conceptualization of agency: iteration, projectivity, and practical-evaluation to identify evidence of past, future, and present factors in participants’ decision-making. These codes were applied throughout the dataset for each individual participant.

Emergent coding

Following a priori coding, I analyzed the interview and supervision transcripts via emergent (open) coding. Using the “spiral” approach (Creswell, 2013 ), I began by reading through the entire dataset for each participant, taking notes. I wrote case summaries for each participant 3, 5, and 8 months into the data collection process. To develop codes, I reviewed case summaries and notes to identify possible codes and analyzed the dataset of the individual participant using initial codes and definitions. These codes were refined over several iterations. I repeated this process for each participant, resulting in five sets of emergent codes, one for each participant. Example codes included explanation/justification (for responses to feedback), supervisor feedback (with subcodes including direction, confirmation, suggestion/guidance), and strategies (feedback-seeking, questioning, networking), and Upgrade experience. Throughout the analysis process, the definitions of each code and examples were discussed and verified with colleagues familiar with both qualitative analysis and the topics of writing and doctoral education.

Narrative analysis

The patterns that emerged through coding alongside relevant excerpts from the documents were situated within a narrative analysis that allowed each case to be presented as a linear whole, rich with “thick description” (Riessman, 2008 ). The narrative was supported by the results of the coding and specific examples from the transcripts and documents. Because this study is concerned with what participants say rather than how they say it, in constructing the narratives, I formatted participant quotes by excluding stutters and pauses for clarity.

Cross-case analysis

Having completed within-cases analyses of each participant’s experience, I conducted a cross-case analysis to identify any patterns. I began by re-reading my notes and all five case summaries, taking note of similarities and differences (Eisenhardt, 2002 ). From this process, I identified three key themes: approach to the PhD, compliance with and resistance to supervisor feedback, and the Upgrade exam as significant event. These themes reflected larger patterns in agency characterized by the individual’s considerations of past, present, and future action in relation to their changing contexts.

Participant feedback

Participant feedback, also known as member checking, was used to provide participants with an opportunity to express concerns about anonymity (see Thomas, 2017 ) and identify factual errors. Following their participation in this study, each participant was sent a copy of their draft case summary for feedback on (1) factual accuracy, (2) concerns about identifiability, and (3) opinions on how their experiences were interpreted. Participants were also the given the option of changing their assigned pseudonyms.

The analysis gave rise to two key findings. First, the participants adopted three approaches to navigating the construction of the Upgrade document—pragmatic/strategic, idealistic, and realistic/compromising, each reflecting agentive decision-making influenced by prior educational experiences and perceptions of doctoral education, as well as post-PhD career goals. These approaches were primarily conveyed in how the participants drew upon feedback to create research proposals for Upgrade. Second, the oral Upgrade exam was a critical structuring event that led participants to reassess their practices and, in some cases, alter their approaches to their thesis research. This section begins with brief descriptions of the participants’ relevant individual contexts followed by a discussion of the approaches adopted by each, ending with an exploration of whose approaches shifted over time.

Ben was a first-year doctoral researcher in Education. Prior to the PhD, he completed a Master’s in the USA and worked at a think tank. Although English was his second language—he was born in a non-Anglophone European country—Ben was comfortable writing in English given his experience studying in the USA. In his previous work at the think tank, Ben developed the practice of reaching out to his colleagues for substantive feedback, though he always critically assessed received comments, based in part on the expertise of the person providing the feedback. Following the PhD, Ben planned to pursue a career in policy at an international organization. Ben had three supervisors.

Charlie was a first-year doctoral researcher in Sociology. Prior to the PhD, he did a Master’s in the UK. Charlie was originally from China but had been in the UK since high school and thus felt comfortable writing in English, though he sometimes struggled with reading complex texts. Charlie viewed feedback as generally helpful but viewed “abstract” comments such as “the research question is too broad” as less helpful when not accompanied by details on how to improve. He did not have concrete career plans when he began the PhD but hoped the degree would broaden his employment opportunities and allow him to explore academia. Charlie had two supervisors.

Natalie was a first-year doctoral researcher in Geography from the UK. Prior to the PhD, Natalie completed Master’s degrees in related fields and had worked in several sectors. One of her careers involved writing, and thus Natalie had experience in certain genres of writing but viewed herself as a novice in academic writing. She valued feedback, including criticism, from a range of sources and was concerned that her work involved public outreach. Following the PhD, Natalie hoped to teach at a university and write a book based on her doctoral research. Natalie had one supervisor (an anomaly, as most social science PhD researchers at the institution had two or more supervisors).

Shankar was a first-year doctoral researcher in Education from India. The PhD was Shankar’s first educational experience outside of India, having completed his undergraduate study and a Master’s there. He also spent several years teaching in rural areas of India prior to the doctorate. Shankar considered English his first language as his parents spoke it at home. He had little experience receiving feedback on his work, because his previous Master’s research was largely independent. Following the PhD, Shankar planned to return to India and teach at a university. Shankar had two supervisors.

Ethan was a first-year doctoral researcher in Education from the UK. Prior to the PhD, Ethan taught in primary schools and completed a Master’s degree. He enjoyed writing and viewed himself as a “perfectionist” when he wrote. Ethan embraced critical feedback so long as it was constructive and believed that his positive response to criticism was related to the nature of his supervisory relationships. For instance, he had a good relationship with his Master’s supervisor who “valued the good bits” but would also “happily tear a piece of work to shreds” (November 2018, Interview). Following the PhD, Ethan hoped to work in academia or at a think tank. Ethan had two supervisors.


The pragmatic/strategic approach to the PhD, adopted by Ben and Charlie, was characterized by an orientation towards the feasibility or practicality of the research in terms of time to completion, financial constraints, or whatever would most facilitate quick and effective success: the PhD as a means to an end. Both Ben and Charlie expressed their pragmatic/strategic approach through (1) pursuing learning opportunities during the PhD in relation to career objectives and (2) and their assessment and use of feedback.

Ben and Charlie pursued PhDs to further career goals. Ben, who had a clear objective—work at an international organization—believed that doctorate would assist him in developing research skills that would increase his employability. Ben thus framed the PhD as a vehicle for advancing his career. While he wanted to produce a quality thesis, he was not emotionally attached to the work and noted, unlike some of his op-eds and reports, the thesis would not be read by a wide audience. As such, Ben made sure to attend conferences, find research assistant work, and expand his networks: “I think I need to be part of a broader policy debate because that's my aim overall…so I need to go [to conferences]. Everything is part of [an] overall design of me getting better [as a researcher]” (February 2019, Interview). Further, because he was only partially funded, Ben was determined to finish within 3 years and designed his research timeline accordingly.

Like Ben, Charlie viewed the PhD as improving his career opportunities. However, Charlie was uncertain about his future and hoped the PhD would allow him to explore possibilities. Charlie was also self-funding and therefore applied for various scholarships and internships alongside his PhD work. New to sociology, Charlie spent the first few months of the PhD program gathering information towards the goal of understanding what was expected of him:

[W]hen I [am] doing my PhD how do I structure my research, how do I do I develop my ideas? general, how [do] we develop theory, [and] use the theory to explain things in data?...I try to find out the answer by auditing lectures…[and reading] books. (December 2018, Interview)

Charlie thus focused on understanding his discipline and the nature of PhD research while figuring out what “can be asked and answered in a PhD thesis” (October 2018, Email to supervisor). At the same time, he consulted peers for emotional support and enrolled in additional research training courses to further his learning and improve his employment prospects.

Ben and Charlie also expressed their pragmatic/strategic approach to the PhD in how they assessed and used feedback on their Upgrade documents. Ben, who had a clear vision for his project and prior knowledge of the topic, maintained the critical stance towards feedback developed before the PhD:

You need to be really convincing for me to change what I’ve written because in the end it’s going to be my name. But I will say that I’m quite open to accept feedback from people who know [more] than me about a topic. (November 2018, Interview)

Because Ben viewed his supervisors as knowledgeable in their fields but lacking expertise in his specific topic, he relied on them for literature recommendations and to discuss his overall research design and the Upgrade process, using only suggestions that he believed furthered his goal of successful Upgrade and timely thesis completion. However, for substantive feedback on his methods and subject matter, he approached others, including post-docs in relevant departments, and often went long stretches without seeing his supervisors, preferring to work on his own and receive feedback on complete drafts of his work.

In contrast, because of his lack of experience in sociology, Charlie positioned his supervisors as experts who were best placed to guide him through the thesis and, specifically, the Upgrade phase of the PhD. Charlie thus tended to adopt all feedback his supervisors offered. Upon reflection, Charlie noted that he always agreed with his supervisors’ suggestions (“we think similarly”—July 2019, Interview), explaining the intent behind his choices to implement feedback; he believed adopting feedback benefitted the project or Upgrade document. Thus, both Ben and Charlie assessed and used feedback in ways they believed furthered their Upgrade documents—and ultimately their PhDs—in most efficient ways.

This approach was characterized by a romanticized, optimistic framing of the research process, including a preoccupation with “big” ideas and the desire to create a deeply impactful or meaningful project, closely tied to personal passions or philosophies. Shankar and Natalie, who adopted an idealistic approach, expressed this orientation through (1) their perceptions of research/the PhD and (2) tendencies to resist traditional genre conventions of the Upgrade document.

Both Shankar’s and Natalie’s research projects grew from personal experience, and it was apparent in supervisions and interviews that they were passionate and intellectually engaged with their topics to the extent that narrowing the scope of their interests to a feasible doctorate was a significant challenge—both participants had a tendency to think and talk about their projects in broad ways, exploring avenues of inquiry that connected elements of history, philosophy, language, and politics. Natalie also insisted that her project take an ethnographic approach in which research questions emerge from the fieldwork and thus was hesitant to narrow her topic too early—a desire supported by her supervisor (but cautioned against by her course instructors). As a compromise, Natalie constructed three broad research questions that indicated her areas of interest. For example, “Are cities the agrarian worlds of the future?” (Upgrade document draft).

Shankar and Natalie were creative in how they structured their Upgrade documents; Natalie’s Upgrade document was organized by themes rather than discrete sections for literature review, method, etc., and Shankar used “metaphorical signposting,” adding subtitles to each of his sections that corresponded to parts of a tree—for instance, the literature review was called “the seeds” (Upgrade document draft). Although he appreciated critical comments, Shankar struggled to implement supervisor feedback on defining terms in relation to existing literature and following citation practices. He tried to negotiate comments on his Upgrade document and incorporate aspects of feedback towards the goal of finding his own writing style. Shankar acknowledged that his writing was a “little bit of this, little bit of that,” an “amalgam of the kind of quality of writing which would be appreciated in India” that included anecdotal evidence (April 2019, Interview). These writing and research choices stretched the boundaries of the expected Upgrade document genre and reflected Natalie and Shankar’s personal preferences for writing and self-expression, indicative of an idealistic view of doctoral writing. However, both needed to re-evaluate their practices when they were asked to resubmit their Upgrade document after the initial Upgrade exam. This is elaborated upon later.


The realistic approach lay between the pragmatic/strategic and idealistic approaches, characterized by compromise and accommodation: passion for the topic and desire for it to be impactful on a larger scale, while also being cognizant of institutional expectations and willing to shape the project accordingly. Ethan adopted the realistic approach, which was evident in his assessment and use of feedback.

Ethan worked to strike a balance between creating a project he was passionate about and crafting a document that satisfied his supervisors:

There’s been varying points this year where I thought, am I doing the right thing? Would I be better off doing other research?...I think it’s the first time where, I’m very cognizant of this is all mine [so] that’s been quite a big defining feature of it. The independence. (November 2019, Interview)

Ethan’s understanding of the need to manage his goals with supervisor approval may be linked to his previous Master’s experience, specifically his familiarity with the research process and supervisor feedback. Indeed, though Shankar and Natalie had completed Master’s in their fields, both described the experience as involving little supervisory contact.

What Ethan most appreciated about his supervisors was their shared interest in school policy and their shared experiences as teachers, which allowed him to speak openly about his concerns about education and engage in critical discussion. In such supervisory discussions—and in early drafts of his Upgrade document—Ethan expressed political views that were tied to his teaching experience and the inception of his thesis, revealing Ethan’s desire for impact and change. At the same time, he acknowledged the “authority” of his supervisors and gladly incorporated their feedback, which helped him to define a feasible research topic and demonstrated an understanding of the PhD as requiring negotiation between the desire to shape a large and important study and the need to meet institutional standards. Further, both of Ethan’s supervisors were careful to explain the reasoning behind their feedback while also being explicit about examiner expectations, which may have contributed to his willingness to compromise.

Ethan’s greatest struggle was his self-described “flowery” writing style. His supervisors referred to his writing as “journalistic” and “rhetorically beautiful” but not appropriate for the Upgrade document genre. Beautiful writing was of personal value to Ethan, and he initially hoped to reach a compromise and find “the line” defining the extent to which he could write descriptively—though, he acknowledged, “[my supervisors and I] may or may not agree where that line is” (June 2019, Interview). For Ethan, writing became a matter of “trial and error” (June 2019, Interview) in which he continually refined his style over several drafts, a process facilitated by the pruning down of his document prior to Upgrade. Later, Ethan noted that the improvement in his writing was the most concrete change from the first year of his PhD. The realistic/compromising approach therefore reflects an understanding of genre, disciplinary, and institutional requirements and the need to negotiate and adapt for the purposes of the Upgrade document.

Changes in approach over time

The approaches discussed above were not clear-cut categories; rather, each given approach reflected the general overarching way in which the participants structured their actions and communicated their thinking about their research, writing, and the PhD. These approaches were driven primarily by the iterative element of agency—patterns of behavior acquired over time from prior education and work experience, particularly in regard to responses to feedback. At the same time, participant approaches were not static; success or lack thereof at the Upgrade milestone either reinforced successful participants’ approaches or significantly changed the approaches of those who were unsuccessful.

For Natalie and Shankar, who were asked to revise and resubmit their Upgrade documents, Upgrade prompted reflection on PhD expectations and the research process, which led them to move from an idealistic to a pragmatic/strategic approach. Natalie, for instance, remarked that she had been “naïve” about doctoral work and following the Upgrade exam began to view the PhD as a “box-ticking exercise” she needed to work through in order to pass (pragmatic approach). Similarly, Shankar noted that the Upgrade exam highlighted gaps between his former schooling and the expectations of his PhD university, leading him to alter his Upgrade document in accordance with examiner feedback and conform to institutional expectations, which he described as putting on “clothes in a wardrobe”: seems to me that the, what this whole program is about, or at least my experience of it [is] a particular way of...relating to knowledge. It’s a particular way of...looking at it and interpreting it and presenting it. (June 2019, Interview)

For Shankar, the way the examiners expected his literature review to be presented and the depth of detail required in the methods section conflicted with his prior experiences of writing and structuring arguments. Despite prior conversations with his supervisors about the purpose of the Upgrade document, the high-stakes nature of the Upgrade exam was a significant experience that catalyzed a shift in his approach to the Upgrade document—and his thesis research generally.

In contrast, for Charlie and Ethan, passing the Upgrade exam reinforced their preexisting pragmatic/strategic and realistic approaches, as success indicated that their previous strategies were effective. Ben, the outlier, did not alter his view of the PhD or approach to research and writing despite a revise and resubmit result; rather, he attributed this outcome to ineffective or late supervisor feedback, consistent with his belief that his supervisors were not experts in his particular field and methodology. Further, Ben was not emotionally affected by the result, viewing it as an inconvenience and choosing to comply with examiner feedback and resubmit quickly; he did not want to alter his timeline for data collection, in keeping with his pragmatic outlook.

Thus, the Upgrade exam was a critical structuring event capable of transforming or reinforcing how the participants understood PhD research and writing expectations, demonstrating how evolving temporal-relational contexts (Upgrade results) may affect agentive decision-making. Importantly, successful Upgrade required participants to negotiate their prior expectations and experiences and future goals with institutional and disciplinary conventions, showing the need for clarity around genre-based expectations for doctoral education and the extent to which PhD researchers can work within those boundaries.

This longitudinal multiple case study employed Emirbayer and Mische’s ( 1998 ) chordal triad of agency to examine how five first-year social science PhD researchers created their Upgrade documents towards the goal of successful Upgrade. According to the chordal triad, the individual, as agent, (re)acts in a temporal-relational context, with three elements at play: the past (acting in response to similar situations developed over time), the future (adapting existing schemas in relation to goals and imagined outcomes), and the present (making judgments among alternative possible actions in light of the current evolving situation). The approaches the participants used to create their Upgrade documents—pragmatic/strategic, idealistic, and realistic—represent three possible ways in which PhD researchers may navigate the doctoral thesis in relation to individual contexts. What this research contributes is (1) new insight into the role of agency in PhD researchers’ behaviors, (2) the importance of significant milestones (like Upgrade) in influencing/altering thinking and behaviors, and (3) the value of a longitudinal perspective in examining PhD researcher development.

Results suggest that a projective (future) orientation motivated participants to think about larger PhD and post-PhD goals, contributing to how they initially conceptualized the PhD and approached their research (and Upgrade documents), consistent with prior interview-based studies (Brailsford, 2010 ; Gill & Hoppe, 2009 ; Guerin et al., 2015 ; Leonard, et al., 2005 ; Skakni, 2018 ). What this study adds is an empirical account of how both goals (projectivity), prior contexts and experience (iteration), and the present situation (practical-evaluation) influence how doctoral researchers view the PhD and subsequently tackle the Upgrade documents, respond to feedback, and employ strategies in relation to their overarching purposes and perceptions of the doctorate.

Concurrently, the iterative (past) element provided the underlying writing, feedback, and disciplinary knowledge drawn upon to do the work. For instance, Shankar’s educational history influenced his writing choices, echoing studies finding disparities between international PhD researchers’ prior educational contexts and PhD expectations (Li, 2018 ; Soong, et al., 2015 ; Wu & Hu, 2020 ; Xu & Grant, 2017 ). Further, in preparing their Upgrade documents, all five participants used previously developed strategies to respond to feedback. Ben, for example, continued to seek feedback from a range of sources and critically assessed the usefulness of comments, while Charlie and Natalie accepted all supervisor feedback in line with their self-positioning as novices in the field and previous practices.

As in other work on supervision and supervisor feedback, the results suggested that PhD researchers with greater ownership over their work (e.g., Ben) were more likely to resist critical comments that conflicted with their goals (see Vehviläinen, 2009 ). Yet, the participants did not express negative emotional reactions to criticism—they accepted, evaluated, and at times rejected suggestions (see Wang & Li, 2011 ). Where the results diverge from Wang and Li ( 2011 ) is that the participants in this study were in the earliest stages of the PhD, conflicting with Wang and Li’s suggestion that new, less experienced PhD researchers are more likely to respond negatively to critical feedback. This discrepancy reinforces the finding that responses to feedback and ownership over the thesis may be linked not only to research and writing experience, but perhaps more powerfully to individual contexts/goals (see also Inouye & McAlpine, 2017 ).

Practical-evaluation, the element of agency representing the present, was perhaps the most complex but important aspect of agency captured in the participants’ decision-making. Given the nature of the PhD as an ongoing process fraught with information, particularly during the first year, participants were continually assessing their research goals and practices in relation to the new knowledge and feedback they received from texts, instructors, and supervisors—“the demands and contingencies of the present” (Emirbayer & Mische, 1998 , p. 994). For example, assessment of supervisor and other feedback often invoked a combination of practical-evaluation and projectivity as students evaluated comments within the evolving supervisory relationship and stage of their Upgrade documents, choosing to accept or reject changes in relation to what they believed would lead to the best outcome. At the same time, practical-evaluation and iteration co-occurred as students assessed feedback and their own writing and chose to continue accepting supervisor comments or write in a certain way. Importantly, the Upgrade exam, a new context, was the only event that led to substantial changes in the participants’ actions and approaches. These results suggest that experience contributes to a pattern of action that is less likely to change significantly unless the actor encounters a critical incident.

Finally, to revisit Emirbayer and Mische’s definition of agency, agency “both reproduces and transforms those structures in interactive response to the problems posed by changing historical situations” (1998, p. 970). As reflected in the results, Natalie’s and Shankar’s desire to create Upgrade documents that did not strictly conform to typical conventions was unsuccessful in transforming the structure of Upgrade; the examiners failed to recognize their initial documents as fulfilling Upgrade requirements (cf., Naomi, 2021 ). Thus, while the participants developed their Upgrade documents in creative ways, ultimately, the documents they produced—the documents that were eventually approved—reproduced the existing Upgrade document genre. Their experiences raise questions about the extent to which PhD researchers are able to bring creative approaches to their research and research writing and what counts as acceptable doctoral writing.


First, this was a small-scale study of five first-year doctoral researchers at one UK university. Therefore, the results are specific to the particular institutional and disciplinary circumstances surrounding their experiences. Given the variation in milestone procedures and expectations across departments and institutions, the findings cannot be generalized to the wider UK PhD population, nor to the social sciences as a whole, or even to the population of PhD researchers within the participants’ specific departments. Rather, the study provides detailed insight into the individual experiences of the participants, providing examples of how agency may manifest in relation to personal contexts. Second, I was unable to capture the full range of data involved in the participants’ creation of the Upgrade document and focused primarily on supervisor feedback, meaning that additional sources of influence—e.g., readings, peer feedback, blogs, and social media—were not explored. Finally, the choice of the chordal triad of agency, while useful in exploring temporal changes in behavior, offered a limited discussion of how agency is developed within one’s larger personal trajectories, which may preclude exploration of how approaches to the doctoral Upgrade document are situated within the participants’ broader lives.


This study has shown the value of micro-level longitudinal research that encourages us to think biographically through time in relation to the individual’s specific context. Future longitudinal studies on doctoral writing and education, perhaps across disciplines, may be useful in enhancing our knowledge of the relationships between personal factors, disciplinary cultures, supervision, and examination processes and expectations. Studies covering the entire doctoral program would also be helpful in better understanding how PhD researchers’ conceptions of the doctoral research and writing change over time.

Further, academic research cultures are not accessed equally by all doctoral students (Deem & Brehony, 2000 ), and doctoral training does not always address research culture as an additional challenge for PhD researchers entering programs from different contexts. More studies on international and intercultural PhD education are required to better understand the needs and contributions of PhD researchers with diverse experiences.

Doctoral experience varies across individuals. Recognizing the role of personal contexts and goals in shaping doctoral researchers’ perspectives and practices is important, particularly during the early stages of the PhD when they are still developing their understanding of the PhD and their capacity for agency in shaping the research.


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The author would like to thank Professor Lynn McAlpine and Dr. Velda Elliott for their support and feedback.

This research was supported by a Clarendon Scholarship from the University of Oxford.

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Inouye, K. Developing the PhD thesis project in relation to individual contexts: a multiple case study of five doctoral researchers. High Educ 85 , 1143–1160 (2023).

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The field of qualitative research there are a number of research designs (also referred to as “traditions” or “genres”), including case study, phenomenology, narrative inquiry, action research, ethnography, grounded theory, as well as a number of critical genres including Feminist theory, indigenous research, critical race theory and cultural studies. The choice of research design is directly tied to and must be aligned with your research problem and purpose. As Bloomberg & Volpe (2019) explain:

Choice of research design is directly tied to research problem and purpose. As the researcher, you actively create the link among problem, purpose, and design through a process of reflecting on problem and purpose, focusing on researchable questions, and considering how to best address these questions. Thinking along these lines affords a research study methodological congruence (p. 38).

Case study is an in-depth exploration from multiple perspectives of a bounded social phenomenon, be this a social system such as a program, event, institution, organization, or community (Stake, 1995, 2005; Yin, 2018). Case study is employed across disciplines, including education, health care, social work, sociology, and organizational studies. The purpose is to generate understanding and deep insights to inform professional practice, policy development, and community or social action (Bloomberg 2018).

Yin (2018) and Stake (1995, 2005), two of the key proponents of case study methodology, use different terms to describe case studies. Yin categorizes case studies as exploratory or descriptive . The former is used to explore those situations in which the intervention being evaluated has no clear single set of outcomes. The latter is used to describe an intervention or phenomenon and the real-life context in which it occurred. Stake identifies case studies as intrinsic or instrumental , and he proposes that a primary distinction in designing case studies is between single and multiple (or collective) case study designs. A single case study may be an instrumental case study (research focuses on an issue or concern in one bounded case) or an intrinsic case study (the focus is on the case itself because the case presents a unique situation). A longitudinal case study design is chosen when the researcher seeks to examine the same single case at two or more different points in time or to capture trends over time. A multiple case study design is used when a researcher seeks to determine the prevalence or frequency of a particular phenomenon. This approach is useful when cases are used for purposes of a cross-case analysis in order to compare, contrast, and synthesize perspectives regarding the same issue. The focus is on the analysis of diverse cases to determine how these confirm the findings within or between cases, or call the findings into question.

Case study affords significant interaction with research participants, providing an in-depth picture of the phenomenon (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2019). Research is extensive, drawing on multiple methods of data collection, and involves multiple data sources. Triangulation is critical in attempting to obtain an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon under study and adds rigor, breadth, and depth to the study and provides corroborative evidence of the data obtained. Analysis of data can be holistic or embedded—that is, dealing with the whole or parts of the case (Yin, 2018). With multiple cases the typical analytic strategy is to provide detailed description of themes within each case (within-case analysis), followed by thematic analysis across cases (cross-case analysis), providing insights regarding how individual cases are comparable along important dimensions. Research culminates in the production of a detailed description of a setting and its participants, accompanied by an analysis of the data for themes or patterns (Stake, 1995, 2005; Yin, 2018). In addition to thick, rich description, the researcher’s interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations contribute to the reader’s overall understanding of the case study.

Analysis of findings should show that the researcher has attended to all the data, should address the most significant aspects of the case, and should demonstrate familiarity with the prevailing thinking and discourse about the topic. The goal of case study design (as with all qualitative designs) is not generalizability but rather transferability —that is, how (if at all) and in what ways understanding and knowledge can be applied in similar contexts and settings. The qualitative researcher attempts to address the issue of transferability by way of thick, rich description that will provide the basis for a case or cases to have relevance and potential application across a broader context.

Qualitative research methods ask the questions of "what" and "how" a phenomenon is understood in a real-life context (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2019). In the education field, qualitative research methods uncover educational experiences and practices because qualitative research allows the researcher to reveal new knowledge and understanding. Moreover, qualitative descriptive case studies describe, analyze and interpret events that explain the reasoning behind specific phenomena (Bloomberg, 2018). As such, case study design can be the foundation for a rigorous study within the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE).

Case study design is an appropriate research design to consider when conceptualizing and conducting a dissertation research study that is based on an applied problem of practice with inherent real-life educational implications. Case study researchers study current, real-life cases that are in progress so that they can gather accurate information that is current. This fits well with the ADE program, as students are typically exploring a problem of practice. Because of the flexibility of the methods used, a descriptive design provides the researcher with the opportunity to choose data collection methods that are best suited to a practice-based research purpose, and can include individual interviews, focus groups, observation, surveys, and critical incident questionnaires. Methods are triangulated to contribute to the study’s trustworthiness. In selecting the set of data collection methods, it is important that the researcher carefully consider the alignment between research questions and the type of data that is needed to address these. Each data source is one piece of the “puzzle,” that contributes to the researcher’s holistic understanding of a phenomenon. The various strands of data are woven together holistically to promote a deeper understanding of the case and its application to an educationally-based problem of practice.

Research studies within the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE) will be practical in nature and focus on problems and issues that inform educational practice.  Many of the types of studies that fall within the ADE framework are exploratory, and align with case study design. Case study design fits very well with applied problems related to educational practice, as the following set of examples illustrate:

Elementary Bilingual Education Teachers’ Self-Efficacy in Teaching English Language Learners: A Qualitative Case Study

The problem to be addressed in the proposed study is that some elementary bilingual education teachers’ beliefs about their lack of preparedness to teach the English language may negatively impact the language proficiency skills of Hispanic ELLs (Ernst-Slavit & Wenger, 2016; Fuchs et al., 2018; Hoque, 2016). The purpose of the proposed qualitative descriptive case study was to explore the perspectives and experiences of elementary bilingual education teachers regarding their perceived lack of preparedness to teach the English language and how this may impact the language proficiency of Hispanic ELLs.

Exploring Minority Teachers Experiences Pertaining to their Value in Education: A Single Case Study of Teachers in New York City

The problem is that minority K-12 teachers are underrepresented in the United States, with research indicating that school leaders and teachers in schools that are populated mainly by black students, staffed mostly by white teachers who may be unprepared to deal with biases and stereotypes that are ingrained in schools (Egalite, Kisida, & Winters, 2015; Milligan & Howley, 2015). The purpose of this qualitative exploratory single case study was to develop a clearer understanding of minority teachers’ experiences concerning the under-representation of minority K-12 teachers in urban school districts in the United States since there are so few of them.

Exploring the Impact of an Urban Teacher Residency Program on Teachers’ Cultural Intelligence: A Qualitative Case Study

The problem to be addressed by this case study is that teacher candidates often report being unprepared and ill-equipped to effectively educate culturally diverse students (Skepple, 2015; Beutel, 2018). The purpose of this study was to explore and gain an in-depth understanding of the perceived impact of an urban teacher residency program in urban Iowa on teachers’ cultural competence using the cultural intelligence (CQ) framework (Earley & Ang, 2003).

Qualitative Case Study that Explores Self-Efficacy and Mentorship on Women in Academic Administrative Leadership Roles

The problem was that female school-level administrators might be less likely to experience mentorship, thereby potentially decreasing their self-efficacy (Bing & Smith, 2019; Brown, 2020; Grant, 2021). The purpose of this case study was to determine to what extent female school-level administrators in the United States who had a mentor have a sense of self-efficacy and to examine the relationship between mentorship and self-efficacy.

Suburban Teacher and Administrator Perceptions of Culturally Responsive Teaching to Promote Connectedness in Students of Color: A Qualitative Case Study

The problem to be addressed in this study is the racial discrimination experienced by students of color in suburban schools and the resulting negative school experience (Jara & Bloomsbury, 2020; Jones, 2019; Kohli et al., 2017; Wandix-White, 2020). The purpose of this case study is to explore how culturally responsive practices can counteract systemic racism and discrimination in suburban schools thereby meeting the needs of students of color by creating positive learning experiences. 

As you can see, all of these studies were well suited to qualitative case study design. In each of these studies, the applied research problem and research purpose were clearly grounded in educational practice as well as directly aligned with qualitative case study methodology. In the Applied Doctoral Experience (ADE), you will be focused on addressing or resolving an educationally relevant research problem of practice. As such, your case study, with clear boundaries, will be one that centers on a real-life authentic problem in your field of practice that you believe is in need of resolution or improvement, and that the outcome thereof will be educationally valuable.

Bloomberg, L. D. (2018). Case study method. In B. B. Frey (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of educational research, measurement, and evaluation (pp. 237–239). SAGE.

Bloomberg, L. D. & Volpe, M. (2019). Completing your qualitative dissertation: A road map from beginning to end . (4th Ed.). SAGE.

Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. SAGE.

Stake, R. E. (2005). Qualitative case studies. In N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 443–466). SAGE.

Yin, R. (2018). Case study research and applications: Designs and methods. SAGE.

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Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on 5 May 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 30 January 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organisation, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating, and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyse the case.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

Unlike quantitative or experimental research, a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

If you find yourself aiming to simultaneously investigate and solve an issue, consider conducting action research . As its name suggests, action research conducts research and takes action at the same time, and is highly iterative and flexible. 

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience, or phenomenon.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews, observations, and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data .

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis, with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results , and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyse its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

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2020 Student Thesis Showcase - Part I

thesis project case study

Have you ever wondered what students design in architecture school? A few years ago, we started an Instagram account called IMADETHAT_ to curate student work from across North America. Now, we have nearly 3,000 projects featured for you to view. In this series, we are featuring thesis projects of recent graduates to give you a glimpse into what architecture students create while in school. Each week, for the rest of the summer, we will be curating five projects that highlight unique aspects of design. In this week’s group, the research ranges from urban scale designs focused on climate change to a proposal for a new type of collective housing and so much in between. Check back each week for new projects. 

In the meantime, Archinect has also created a series featuring the work of 2020 graduates in architecture and design programs. Check out the full list, here .

thesis project case study

Redefining the Gradient by Kate Katz and Ryan Shaaban, Tulane University, M.Arch ‘20

Thesis Advisors: Cordula Roser Gray and Ammar Eloueini / Course: 01-SP20-Thesis Studio

Sea level rise has become a major concern for coastal cities due to the economic and cultural importance tied to their proximity to water. These cities have sustained their livelihood in low-lying elevations through the process of filling, bridging, and raising land over coastal ecosystems, replacing their ecological value with infrastructures focused on defining the edge between city and nature. Hard infrastructures have been employed to maintain urban landscapes but have minimal capacity for both human and non-human engagement due to their monofunctional applications focused on separating conditions rather than integrating them. They produce short-term gains with long-term consequences, replacing and restricting ecosystems and acting as physical barriers in a context defined by seasonal transition. 

To address the issues of hard infrastructure and sea level rise, this thesis proposes an alternative design strategy that incorporates the dynamic water system into the urban grid network. San Francisco was chosen as the location of study as it is a peninsula where a majority of the predicted inundation occurs on the eastern bayside. In this estuary, there were over 500 acres of ecologically rich tidal marshlands that were filled in during the late 1800s. To protect these new lands, the Embarcadero Sea Wall was built in 1916 and is now in a state of neglect. The city has set aside $5 billion for repairs but, instead of pouring more money into a broken system, we propose an investment in new multi-functional ecologically-responsive strategies. 

As sea levels rise, the city will be inundated with water, creating the opportunity to develop a new circulation system that maintains accessibility throughout areas located in the flood zone. In this proposal, we’ve designed a connective network where instance moments become moments of pause and relief to enjoy the new cityscape in a dynamic maritime district. 

On the lower level, paths widen to become plazas while on the upper level, they become breakout destinations which can connect to certain occupiable rooftops that are given to the public realm. The bases of carved canals become seeding grounds for plants and aquatic life as the water level rises over time. Buildings can protect high-risk floors through floodproofing and structural encasement combined with adaptive floorplates to maintain the use of lower levels. The floating walkway is composed of modular units that are buoyant, allowing the pedestrian paths to conform and fluctuate with diurnal tidal changes. The composition of the units creates street furniture and apertures to engage with the ecologies below while enabling a once restricted landscape of wetlands to take place within the city. 

The new vision of the public realm in this waterfront district hopes to shine an optimistic light on how we can live with nature once again as we deal with the consequences of climate change.

thesis project case study

Unearthing the Black Aesthetic by Demar Matthews, Woodbury University, M.Arch ‘20

Advisor: Ryan Tyler Martinez Featured on Archinect

“Unearthing The Black Aesthetic” highlights South Central Los Angeles’s (or Black Los Angeles’s) unique positioning as a dynamic hub of Black culture and creativity. South Central is the densest population of African Americans west of the Mississippi. While every historically Black neighborhood in Los Angeles has experienced displacement, the neighborhood of Watts was hit particularly hard. As more and more Black Angelenos are forced for one reason or another to relocate, we are losing our history and connection to Los Angeles.

As a way to fight this gentrification, we are developing an architectural language derived from Black culture. So many cultures have their own architectural styles based on values, goals, morals, and customs shared by their society. When these cultures have relocated to America, to keep their culture and values intact, they bought land and built in the image of their homelands. That is not true for Black people in America. In fact, until 1968, Black people had no rights to own property in Los Angeles. While others began a race to acquire land in 1492, building homes and communities in their image, we started running 476 years after the race began. What percentage of land was left for Blacks to acquire? How then can we advance the development of a Black aesthetic in architecture?

This project, most importantly, is a collaboration with the community that will be for us and by us. My goal is to take control of our image in architecture; to elevate, not denigrate, Black life and culture. Ultimately, we envision repeating this process in nine historically Black cities in America to develop an architectural language that will vary based on the history and specificities of Black culture in each area.

thesis project case study

KILLING IT: The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Amanda Golemba, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, M.Arch ’20

Advisors: Nikole Bouchard, Jasmine Benyamin, and Erik Hancock / Independent Design Thesis

For decades, post-industrial cities throughout the United States have been quietly erased through self-imposed tabula rasa demolition. If considered at all, demolition is touted as the mechanism for removing unsightly blight, promoting safety, and discarding the obsolete and the unwanted. Once deemed unworthy, rarely does a building survive the threat of demolition. 

In the last decade, the City of Chicago has erased over 13,000 buildings with 225 in just the last four months. Not only does this mass erasure eradicate the material and the spatial, but it permanently wipes the remnants of human bodies, values, and history — a complete annulment of event, time, and memory. 

But why do we feel the need to erase in order to make progress?

Our current path has led to a built environment that is becoming more and more uniform and sterile. Much of America has become standardized, mixed-use developments; neighborhoods of cookie-cutter homes and the excessive use of synthetic, toxic building materials. A uniform world is a boring one that has little room for creativity, individuality, or authenticity.

This thesis, “KILLING IT,” is a design proposal for a traveling exhibition that seeks to change perceptions of the existing city fabric by visualizing patterns of erasure, questioning the resultant implications and effects of that erasure, and proposing an alternative fate. “KILLING IT” confronts the inherently violent aspects of architecture and explores that violence through the intentionally jarring, uncomfortable, and absurd analogy of murder. This analogy is a lens through which to trace the violent, intentional, and premature ending and sterilization of the existing built environment. After all, as Bernard Tschumi said, “To really appreciate architecture, you may even need to commit a murder.”1 But murder is not just about the events that take place within a building, it is also the material reality of the building itself. 

Over the life of a building, scarring, moments in time, and decay layer to create an inhabitable palimpsest of memory. This traveling exhibition is infused with the palimpsest concept by investigating strategies of layering, modularity, flexibility, transparency, and building remains, while layering them together to form a system that operates as an inhabitable core model collage. Each individual exhibition simultaneously memorializes the violence that happened at that particular site and implements murderous adaptive reuse strategies through collage and salvage material to expose what could have been.

If we continue down our current path, we will only continue to make the same mistakes and achieve the same monotonous, sterilizing results we currently see in every American city and suburb. We need to embrace a new path that values authenticity, celebrates the scars and traces of the past, and carries memories into the future. By reimaging what death can mean and addressing cycles of violence, “KILLING IT” proposes an optimistic vision for the future of American cities. 

  • Tschumi, Bernard. “Questions of space: lectures on architecture” (ed. 1990)

thesis project case study

A New Prototype for Collective Housing by Juan Acosta and Gable Bostic, University of Texas at Austin, M.Arch ‘20

Advisor: Martin Haettasch / Course: Integrative Design Studio Read more:

Austin is a city that faces extreme housing pressures. This problem is framed almost exclusively in terms of supply and demand, and the related question of affordability. For architects, however, a more productive question is: Will this new quantity produce a new quality of housing? 

How do we live in the city, how do we create individual and collective identity through architecture, and what are the urban consequences? This studio investigates new urban housing types, smaller than an apartment block yet larger and denser than a detached house. Critically assessing existing typologies, we ask the question: How can the comforts of the individual house be reconfigured to form new types of residential urban fabric beyond the entropy of tract housing or the formulaic denominator of “mixed-use.” The nature of the integrative design studio allowed for the testing of material systems and construction techniques that have long had an important economic and ecological impact.

“A New Prototype for Collective Housing” addresses collectivity in both a formal and social sense, existing between the commercial and residential scales present in Austin’s St. John neighborhood as it straddles the I-35 corridor; a normative American condition. A diversity of programs, and multigenerational living, create an inherently diverse community. Additionally, a courtyard typology is used to negotiate the spectrum of private and shared space. Volumes, comprising multiple housing units ranging from studio apartments to four bedrooms, penetrate a commercial plinth that circulates both residents and mechanical systems. The use of heavy timber ensures an equitable use of resources while imbuing the project with a familiar material character.

thesis project case study

ELSEWHERE, OR ELSE WHERE? by Brenda (Bz) Zhang, University of California at Berkeley, M.Arch ’20

Advisors: Andrew Atwood and Neyran Turan See more:

“ELSEWHERE, OR ELSE WHERE?” is an architectural fever dream about the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning with the premise that two common ideas of Place—Home and Elsewhere—are no longer useful, the project wonders how disciplinary tools of architecture can be used to shape new stories about where we are.

For our purposes, “Home,” although primarily used to describe a place of domestic habitation, is also referring generally to a “familiar or usual setting,” as in home-base, home-court, home-page, and even home-button. As a counterpoint, Elsewhere shifts our attention “in or to another place,” away. This thesis is situated both in the literal spaces of Elsewhere and Home (landfills, houses, wilderness, base camps, wastelands, hometowns) and in their culturally constructed space (value-embedded narratives determining whether something belongs, and to whom). Since we construct both narratives through principles of exclusion, Elsewhere is a lot closer to Home than we say. These hybrid spaces—domestic and industrial, urban and hinterland, natural and built—are investigated as found conditions of the Anthropocene and potential sites for new understandings of Place.

Ultimately, this thesis attempts to challenge conventional notions of what architects could do with our existing skill sets, just by shifting our attention—Elsewhere. The sites shown here and the concerns they represent undeniably exist, but because of the ways Western architecture draws thick boundaries between and around them, they resist architectural focus—to our detriment.

In reworking the physical and cultural constructions of Homes and Elsewheres, architects are uniquely positioned to go beyond diagnostics in visualizing and designing how, where, and why we build. While this project looks specifically at two particular stories we tell about where we are, the overall objective is to provoke new approaches to how we construct Place—both physically and culturally—within or without our discipline.

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About Study Architecture

thesis project case study

Thesis Guide

How to Write a Case Study

Most good empirical software engineering papers that contain a study follow the same structure for its presentation. As far as I know, this structure was not invented by a single researcher, but developed gradually over the course of many publications.

Professional readers expect your case study to follow this structure, too. The audience that really matters for your publication—your thesis supervisor, his PhD advisor or program committee members—all are professional readers.

The goal of this article is to describe this structure: the basic building blocks of thesis chapters or paper sections that make up case study presentations. It is meant as an introduction and thus necessarily skips details. For further reading, this article contains links at the end.

Basic Anatomy

The typical structure comprises these sections:

  • Research questions

Study Objects

Study design.

Study Procedure

Results & Interpretation

Threats to Validity.

As a reader, I expect each section to answer a specific set of questions. In the following, I describe the gist of each section, its set of questions and common mistakes.

To make the sections more tangible, I use part of a study from one of our papers . The study investigates inconsistencies in code clones.

Research Questions

This section states the questions that the study aims to answer and their rationale. It should contain:

  • What the questions are. In my paper, RQ 1 is Are clones changed inconsistently? .

Why the research questions are relevant.

A frequent mistake is missing rationale. In such papers, the motivation behind the research question often remains unclear or unconvincing.

Some background on the example paper: code clones are duplicated pieces of source code in a software systems. Clones are typically created by copy & paste. They hinder software maintenance, since changes must often be made to all clone instances. If a clone gets forgotten during such a change, the code becomes inconsistent. This inconsistency can be a bug.


What I wanted to investigate with my study, was how big of a problem this is in practice. One the one hand, I had seen some instances of inconsistent clones that suspiciously looked like bugs. On the other hand, I had no idea how frequently this occurred, and if this really was problematic in practice. My study goal was to quantify this by analyzing clones (and their inconsistencies) in real systems.

The rationale of the first research question was to understand if inconsistent changes to clones happen at all, and how often. If they are very rare, they probably do not deserve further investigation (which is performed by the later research questions in the paper).

This section outlines the study objects (e.g. software systems), which the study analyzes to answer its research questions. It should contain:

  • The names of the study objects and their characteristics (those properties that are relevant for the study). In the example, the study objects were the 5 systems that I searched for clones. The relevant characteristics comprise programming language, size, age, number of developers and a short description of their functionality.

Why (and maybe how) those objects were chosen. This is relevant, since choice can influence study result validity. For the example, a large number of study objects (and ideally their random selection from a large pool of potential study objects), would increase the generalizability of the study results.

In the clone paper, however, I needed to do interviews with the system’s developers for later questions. I thus had to rely on our industry contacts to get hold of these developers. This limited my choices and thus potentially affects generalizability of the results (which is mentioned in the threats to validity section).

A frequent mistake is to not mention why those objects were chosen and what the consequences of the choice are. As a reader, this makes me wonder if the selection was manipulated to better produce the answers the author was looking for.

If a study involves data from industry, the study object names are often anonymized (e.g. replaced by A , B , C , …). As a reader, I don’t care about this, since the names of proprietary industrial systems are meaningless to me anyway. For the authors, however, it makes it much easier to get clearance to publish these results.

This section describes how the study, using the information from the study objects, attempts to answer the research questions.

For the clone study, I computed the percentage of inconsistent clones among all clones. For this, I defined two sets:

  • C : The set C of consistent clones. The clones in each clone group are consistent (i.e. contain no differences or only small ones, like renamed variables).

IC : Set of inconsistent clones , i.e. clone groups with substantial differences between clones, such as missing statements.

As the answer to the research question, I computed the inconsistent clone ratio as |C| / |IC|. Intuitively, it denotes the probability that a clone group in the system contains at least one inconsistency.

A common mistake is to interleave study design, procedure and implementation details.

This section describes the nitty gritty details required to implement the study design in reality. In principle, they could also be included directly in the description of the study design. However, it is easier for the reader to first understand the general idea, and then the details.

For the clone study, this section states detection parameters (like minimal clone length and number of allowed differences between clones). It also treats handling of false positives, generated code and overlapping clone groups.

This section describes the results and interprets them with respect to the research questions. Since there is often a lot of data, this section should guide the reader through the results. In studies with large amounts of data, it is often easier to read to separate description of the data from its interpretation.

In the example, the paper presents the results for each study object and then the aggregated ratio. On average, 52% of the clone groups contained inconsistencies. The paper thus answers the question positively: yes, clones are changed inconsistently.

A common mistake is to mix the results with the discussion. This makes it harder for the reader to separate backed-up results from speculation.

Interpretation of the results that go further than the research questions. This can, e.g., contain implications for software development.

The clone paper (based on the above presented and further questions) concludes, that clones are a threat to program correctness, implying that their proper management deserves more attention.

Threats to Validity

This section lists all threats, i.e. reasons why the study results could be wrong. Ideally, it then treats every single threat and describes what you did to make sure that this threat does not invalidate your study results.

Threats to validity are often classified into internal and external threats.

Internal threats are reasons why the results could be invalid for your study objects. In the example, the parameter values of the clone detector have a strong impact on the detected clones. The section states that we mitigated the threat through a pre-study we performed in order to validate the chosen parameter values.

(To be honest, this is a weak mitigation. What it really says is that we tinkered with the values until they felt good and then did the study. A stronger mitigation would be to also perform the study with different parameter values and investigate whether the general results still hold. Since this distracts from the main study, such back-up studies are often only described in a much abbreviated fashion in the threats section itself.)

External threats are reasons why the results encountered for the study objects might not be transferable to other objects. In the example, the way we chose the study objects (through our personal network) might bias our results. To mitigate this threat, we at least chose systems that had different characteristics, such as programming language, development contractor and age.

The most common mistake is to ignore threats entirely. Much better (but still improvable) is to state a threat without giving a mitigation or an estimation of its severity.

Variation Points

The case study structure described in this article can be used in two different decomposition styles. The most common one is described in this article. It orders by section first and by research question second:

  • Research questions 1.1: RQ 1 … 1.2: RQ 2 …

Study Objects 2.1 For RQ 1: … 2.2 For RQ 2: …

Study Design 2.1 For RQ 1: … 2.2 For RQ 2: …

Is most frequent alternative, however, is to order by research question first and by section second:

  • RQ 1 1.1 Research question 1 … 1.2 Study Objects for RQ 1 … 1.3 Study Design for RQ 1… …

RQ 2 2.1 Research question 2 … 2.2 Study Object for RQ 2 … 2.3 Study Design for RQ 2 … …

Both decomposition styles have advantages and drawbacks. I use these heuristics to select the decomposition level:

This is the case in the clone paper example. Research questions two and three ask whether the inconsistencies between clones are unintentional, and if so, whether they represent a fault. RQ n thus builds upon the results of RQ n-1 . Since the study sections share so much, describing them in isolation would create a lot of redundancy. They are thus easier to read all at once. Decomposition by study section facilitates this.

By research questions : when each study has its own study objects, design and procedure.

In this paper we wrote , the study objects, design and procedure of research questions one and three have nothing in common. Since there is little synergy between them, it is easier to read a complete study—from question to results interpretation—before reading the next one.

Apart from the above examples, there are mixed cases as well (where some RQs share objects and design, but others in the same paper don’t). For them, simply choose the decomposition style that feels right, but stick to it for the entire study description. Don’t mix decomposition styles, since this confuses the reader.

From my experience, you only really get to feel if a style feels right, once you write it down, often two times, once in each decomposition style. This is tedious, but pays off, since a suitable decomposition style strongly increases the readability of your study.

Further reading:

  • Guidelines for conducting and reporting case study research in software engineering by Per Runeson & Martin Höst.

Case Study Research. Design and Methods by Robert K. Yin.

Thanks to Rainer Koschke and Stefan Wagner for literature suggestions and to Daniela Steidl for reading drafts of this.

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Published by elmarjuergens.

Informatiker, Software-Analyst, Sprecher, Wein- und Biertrinker. View all posts by ElmarJuergens

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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples

Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.

This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.

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Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.

University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”

University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947

University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award:  2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title:  Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation

University: University of Washington Faculty:  Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title:  DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web

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University:  University of Edinburgh Faculty:  Informatics Author:  Christopher Sipola Award:  2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title:  Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network

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University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems

University:  London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award:  2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title:  Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction

University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”

University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”

University:  Utrecht University Faculty:  Linguistics Author:  Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title:  The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons

University:  Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author:  Shayan O. Gharan Award:  Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title:   New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms

University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award:  2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement

University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission

University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award:  2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections

University:  University of Ottawa Faculty:  Social Work Author:  Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title:  Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth

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The impact of geo-political socio-economic factors on vaccine dissemination trends: a case-study on COVID-19 vaccination strategies

  • Ritu Chauhan 1 ,
  • Gatha Varma 2 ,
  • Eiad Yafi 3 &
  • Megat F. Zuhairi 4  

BMC Public Health volume  23 , Article number:  2142 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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The world in recent years has seen a pandemic of global scale. To counter the widespread loss of life and severe repercussions, researchers developed vaccinations at a fast pace to immunize the population. While the vaccines were developed and tested through extensive human trials, historically vaccines have been known to evoke mixed sentiments among the generic demographics. In the proposed study, we aim to reveal the impact of political and socio-economic factors on SARS-Cov-2 vaccination trends observed in two hundred and seventeen countries spread across the six continents.

The study had hypothesized that the citizens who have lower trust in their government would be less inclined towards vaccination programs. To test this hypothesis, vaccination trends of nations under authoritarian rule were compared against democratic nations. Further, the study was synthesized with Cov-2 vaccination data which was sourced from Our World Data repository, which was sampled among 217 countries spread across the 6 continents. The study was analyzed with exploratory data analysis and proposed with relevance and impacting factor that was considered for vaccine dissemination in comparison with the literacy rate of the nations. Another impacting factor the study focused on for the vaccination dissemination trends was the health expenses of different nations. The study has been synthesized on political and socio-economic factors where the features were ardently study in retrospect of varied socio- economic features which may include country wise literacy rate, overall GDP rate, further we substantiated the work to address the political factors which are discussed as the country status of democratic or having other status.

The comparison of trends showed that dissemination of SARS-Cov-2 vaccines had been comparable between the two-opposing types of governance. The major impact factor behind the wide acceptance of the SARS-Cov-2 vaccine was the expenditure done by a country on healthcare. These nations used a large number of vaccines to administer to their population and the trends showed positive growth. The overall percentage of vaccine utilized by countries in quantitative terms are Pfizer/BioNTech (17.55%), Sputnik V (7.08%), Sinovac (6.98%), Sinopharm/Beijing (10.04%), Oxford/AstraZeneca (19.56%), CanSino (2.85%), Moderna (12.05%), Covaxin (3.28%), JohnsonandJohnson (10.89%), Sputnik Light (3.07%), Novavax (3.49%). While the nations with the lowest healthcare expenses failed to keep up with the demand and depended on vaccines donated by other countries to protect their population.


The analysis revealed strong indicators that the nations which spend more on healthcare were the ones that had the best SARS-Cov-2 vaccination rollout. To further support decision-making in the future, countries should address the trust and sentiment of their citizens towards vaccination. For this, expenses need to be made to develop and promote vaccines and project them as positive health tools.

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The global stance, in the current scenario of the pandemic, has imposed a substantial burden on healthcare practitioners. The ultimate aim of researchers and scientists worldwide is to fight the ongoing situation and discover significant vaccines which can reduce the mortality rate among society. As we know, the decisive way to overcome the ongoing situation is to immunize the population. Moreover, the existing circumstances infer that, if we need to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, then immunization would play an imperative role.

Certainly, COVID-19 has imprudently created several challenges among young researchers, scientists, and healthcare practitioners around the globe [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ]. To address the key challenges, the interdisciplinary research areas such as education, healthcare, industrial, stock market, food and beverage were examined to determine the factors i.e. socio, behavioral, economical parameters in the vaccine strategy which can directly or indirectly influence the study [ 2 , 3 ]. Hence, the trial of studies was performed at varying stages which included the clinical trials, spatial parameters of the spread of disease, factors corresponding to disease patients, and others. To discuss the overall impact of studies conducted, the challenge is to disseminate the data and predict information from big databases [ 5 , 6 ].

To address the vital issues of real-world data complexity, several adoptive technologies such as computer vision, Tele health was need of time and assistive technologies implemented such as visualization-based models to assist the need of the patients also several communication modules were implemented to assist with the work from home and support the overall population to best fit the current scenario [ 7 ]. Also, we can say that to curb the spread of COVID 19, Machine learning (ML)and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are well-known techniques, which are deployed to discover hidden information from varied databases. The global network of clinicians, scientists, and healthcare practitioners are trying to accelerate the research programs while utilizing AI and ML to develop an effective and efficient COVID -19 vaccine that can benefit the human population among all age groups [ 8 , 9 ]. Usually, ML and AI are evolved to develop a prediction-based tool or decision making, which can outline the future adverts of healthcare outcomes [ 10 ].

We can say that the healthcare organizations are explicitly searching for appropriate technology which can track the epidemiological synchronization or cofactors which can relate to pandemic spread [ 9 , 10 ]. However, cofactors can easily studied with AI and ML which can set vulnerable benefits of diagnosis while measuring the effectiveness of the drug, spread of COVID 19, and detecting the co-vital features associated with the disease [ 11 , 12 , 13 ]. Further, we can say that AI and ML-based technology are the decision-making platforms which can assist healthcare practitioners to fight the battle of COVID -19 while giving a recommendation, medical features extractions, patient-assisted control, and other services which we can think of.

Further, the utilization of ML and AI has flourished their advances in the pandemic era, victoriously in several application domains which include military organizations, healthcare, business analytics, and other technological intervention while gaining momentum and success stories [ 11 , 12 , 13 ]. For example, the chest CT scan images were applied with medical imaging analysis using ML and AI-based algorithms to detect the prognosis of the disease in a short period, as well as citing the drug discovery module which can benefit the patient [ 14 , 15 ]. In addition, ML and AI-based studies were applied to study the societal and behavioral implications of patients and develop intelligent models which can benefit the post-Covid era of patients [ 16 ]. Moreover, several human transmission models were also generated to identify and predict the outbreak of disease and other severities aligned with spread [ 16 , 17 ].

Further, considering the relative global impact of vaccination with vital features such as literacy rate, disabilities, older generation and many other factors in retrospect of the citizens and certain formulation suggested that users those have lower trust in their government were less inclined towards vaccination programs [ 17 ]. In accordance, to the previous work we tried to determine the vaccination trends among varied nations under authoritarian rule as well as comparison was strategized against democratic nations [ 17 , 18 ]. The comparison of trends showed that dissemination of the SARS-Cov-2 vaccine had been comparable between the two-opposing types of governance. Further, the study was proposed with relevance and impacting factor that was considered for vaccine dissemination in comparison with the literacy rate of the nations. The correlated factor was referred to as the country's literacy rate, which is an indicator of its economy and living standards [ 14 ]. In agreement with the above problem, the vaccination trends were represented, with vital features of lesser literacy rates having extremely low and flat growth curves for vaccination numbers [ 15 ]. In similar, another impacting factor that the study focused on was the vaccination dissemination trends in comparison with the health expenses of different nations. The curves were strong indicators that the nations that spend more on healthcare were the ones that had the best SARS-Cov-2 vaccination rollout [ 16 ]. These nations used a large number of vaccines to administer to their population and the trends were positive growth [ 17 ]. While the nations with the lowest healthcare expenses failed to keep up with the demand and depended on vaccines donated by other countries to protect their population [ 18 ].

In the proposed study, we aim to reveal the impact of political and socio-economic factors on SARS-Cov-2 vaccination trends in different countries. The study has been synthesized on political and socio-economic factors where the features were ardently study in retrospect of varied socio- economic features which may include country wise literacy rate, overall GDP rate, further we substantiated the work to address the political factors which are discussed as the country status of democratic or having other status which are discussed elaborated in methodology section.

Literature review

Data science can be discussed as a vibrant tool for developing and supporting vaccine dissemination. The major role is to discover the protein structure which can enable the clinicians and data scientists to discover the patterns for future research repositories and identification of drug discovery. We can say that vaccine is the only possibility that can control the dissemination of COVID 19 cases around the globe [ 18 ]. However, the statistics represents that few vaccines have received permission to use, as in case of emergency conditions that can benefit the healthcare practitioners and others. In context, several vaccination programs are laid into the process to assure the wellbeing, safety, and control of the blowout of the COVID-19 [ 18 , 19 , 20 ]. Hence, we can say that earlier vaccine development was a trivial task, but the advent technology introduced has the ability to identify the protein structure and develop a new drug for a deeper understanding of the virus. Google with integrated technology of AI launched the Alphafold tool, which tends to be an automatic and specialized tool that can predict the new vital 3D protein structure while input as the genetic sequence [ 21 ]. The above cited approached focused on detection of the untreated proteins which regulate the SARS-COV-2 virus and generate a protein structure [ 17 , 22 ].

The concept of reverse vaccinology (RV) with ML tools was utilized to forecast and develop a vaccine for COVID -19. The RV was applied to discover the pathogen using genomes. The study prevailed to discover the proteins which were responsible for the virus which includes SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, HCoV-229E, and others where were discovered from Uniprot proteins. Moreover, they have exploited the ML techniques Vaxign-ML to detect and discover the signal behavior of the proteome of the virus, to forecast the relevance of biological signals [ 23 ]. Further, the Vaxign-ML model was formulated using classifier Random Forest, structural and vector proximity, the context of modeling which was based on ML and RC, was applied to determine the protein and its correspondence level [ 23 ].

In similar, the control and spread of any communicable disease depend upon the vaccine instantiated. Certainly, the development of these vaccines is not an easy task, moreover, several challenges and barriers exist to determine the effective and efficient drug which can handle the generic data. In the past several studies are introduced by researchers and health care practitioners to study the overall effect of the vaccine [ 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 ]. Comparably, a study was proposed to discuss the encounters of the vaccine in context with structural and attitudinal patterns in the US population [ 24 , 25 ]. Where the structural barriers were discussed as the service which was not accessible such as transportation services, or going out and acquiring public services. Further, attitudinal barriers refer to the fact the beliefs which a person acquires the fear of communicable disease or his unwillingness to accept the facts due to perception of the mind. Moreover, in the context of vaccination, it may be discussed as the barrier which develops as the aftermaths or present vaccination programs and determines the risks associated with same. Similar outcomes can be controlled by several recommendation programs, where the effectiveness and importance of COVID- 19 can help them reduce the barriers among the population, which an individual acquires due to rational information [ 24 , 25 ].

Method and materials

COVID 19 has substantially worn the world upside down which has created several inhibitions to detect hidden patterns and information from large scale databases. However, the current study of approach focuses on vaccine dissemination patterns around the globe. The study was based on databases generated from public domain repository of United Nations World Population Prospect, where the datasets compromise of subnational locations such as England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and others [ 26 ]. Also, the overall estimation was calculated on the basis of total vaccinations conducted with doses administrated at each level in correspondence people fully vaccinated with per hundred million. The dataset was analyzed to measure the potential factors in context with impact of political and socio-economic factors on SARS-Cov-2 vaccination trends in different countries. The study has been synthesized on political and socio-economic factors where the features were ardently study in retrospect of varied socio- economic features which may include country wise literacy rate, overall GDP rate [ 27 , 28 ]. Further, we have utilized the secondary data extracted to explore the international trends of vaccination. The current study of approach was focused to provide appropriate geographical coverage of vaccination with stratified sampling and exploratory data analysis.

The exploratory data analysis (EDA) is conducted among the databases to detect hidden patterns, information and knowledge from the data. The data investigated was preprocessed for null values, missing values and inconsistent values to measure the exploratory features summarization. The proposed study was implemented using python 3.9.0 version using NumPy package, Matplotlib library and pandas to explore the complex patterns among the data. Further, data was explored with graphs and distribution curves to synthesize and identify the potential outlines in the data. The analysis also included varied statistics such as mean, median, standard deviation for varied features in the datasets.

Additionally, the study was categorized with relevance and impacting factor which were considered for vaccine dissemination in comparison with the literacy rate of the nations. Also. Target features were considered for the vaccination dissemination trends for calculating the health expenses of different nations. The study has been synthesized on political and socio-economic factors where the features were ardently study in retrospect of varied socio- economic features which may include country wise literacy rate, overall GDP rate, further we substantiated the work to address the political factors which are discussed as the country status of democratic or having other status.

Descriptive analysis

Vaccines have been one of the biggest preventive measures that were developed over the past century to tackle dreaded diseases. However, the major diseases which tends to cured with vaccination is smallpox and rinderpest which has substantially outcasted the population with their rendered threats. While Covid-19 vaccinations have once again raised the debate about a population's trust in various aspects of this process, studies were done before the pandemic also helped in understanding the factors that drive acceptance rates [ 29 , 30 ].

A study done by Larson et al. in 2016 [ 17 ] had analyzed trust in vaccinations in terms of four factors, namely its importance, its safety, its effectiveness, and religious compatibility. Respondents from sixty-seven countries were surveyed for their confidence in vaccines. The survey gauged sentiment on a five-point Likert scale, where answers were discrete values of strongly agree, tend to agree, do not know, tend to disagree, strongly disagree. After the removal of the neutral answer of 'do not know', the countries were ranked based on low confidence. The countries that showed the most negative sentiment towards vaccination before the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic in terms of the four different factors are listed in Table 1 .

As can be seen from the rankings, European and Western Pacific nations were least confident of vaccinations. Developed nations like Japan and France were unexpected entries. The distrust of the population of France can be attributed to the vaccine-related controversies that plagued the nation in the past two decades [ 31 ]. Japan is known to be a risk-averse nation and therefore the population shows a major concern in vaccine safety to fully trust them [ 32 ]. Table 2 lists the top ten countries that displayed positive sentiment towards vaccines.

While the countries with positive sentiment towards vaccination are a mix of developed and developing nations, the latter were more accepting. It should also be noted that religious fundamentalism might impede vaccine acceptance, but it cannot be linked to a certain faith type, as shown by the presence of Saudi Arabia which has a majorly Muslim population [ 33 ].

The SARS-Cov-2 vaccination data was sourced from Our World in Data repository hosted on Github [ 22 ]. This dataset is comprised of two hundred and seventeen countries spread across the six continents. Table 3 lists the attributes of the data that was accessed till July 2021.

The data repository also contained information on Covid vaccines that were administered till the time of this study. These were Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm/Beijing, Sinovac, SputnikV, JohnsonandJohnson, Moderna, Covaxin, CanSino, Sinopharm/Wuhan, Abdala, Soberana02, QazVac, Sinopharm/HayatVax, EpiVacCorona, RBD-Dimer [ 22 ]. Their usage breakdown is shown in Table 4 . The three vaccines that have been administered in the majority are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna.

Our analysis also aimed to discern the effect of a nation's political regime on the SARS-Cov2 vaccination dissemination. While Authoritarian governments are associated with strict implementation of policies among the residents, democracies offer a choice to its residents. The said choice may take stricter forms in case of emergencies like a pandemic. Therefore, some democracies also saw strict regulations regarding the SARS-Cov2 vaccination dissemination. Nonetheless, we combined the political regimes of different nations [ 26 ] for this particular analysis. The dataset contained political regime values as Polity 2 Measure ranges from -10, which corresponded to autocracy, to + 10 for full democracy. For the ease of analysis, the Polity indices were categorized as Authoritarian where the measure ranged between -10 to -6, Limited Authoritarian for Polity measures of -5 to -1, Limited Democracy for 0 to 5, None for non-specified values, and finally Democracy for values 5 to 10. The conversion helped in converting the feature to a categorical distribution.

Results and discussion

The proposed analysis aimed to reveal the impact of political and socio-economic factors on SARS-Cov-2 vaccination trends in different countries. The political regimes of different nations were fetched from Our World in Data repository [ 26 ] to discern the distribution of regimes and the vaccination trends. The dataset contained political regime values as Polity 2 Measure ranges from -10, which corresponded to autocracy, to + 10 for full democracy. For ease of analysis, the Polity indices were categorized as Authoritarian where the measure ranged between -10 to -6, Limited Authoritarian for Polity measures of -5 to -1, Limited Democracy for 0 to 5, None for non-specified values, and finally Democracy for values 5 to 10. Additionally, Authoritarian rule means that the people have to obey the rule and regulations formed by the single political leader. In this rule, the government doesn’t have an established system where the powers can be transformed and the liberal rights can be granted to the people. So, the authoritarian rule confers to the fact that no democracy is granted and hence the people have to subsidies on the rules created by the leader. A limited Authoritarian government is the one where the legalized forces are restricted and obey the rules of authorities. Also, the laws and their restriction on individuals and business are controlled with fewer restriction. Hence, difference between limited authoritarian and authoritarian is constitutional powers are limited in case of limited authoritarian whereas all the powers are controlled by single political leader in case of authoritarian. The democratic rule implies that the power which is elected by the people. It means the people will elect their own minister and hence govern themselves in indirect way. So, democratic way of rule is for the people, by the people and of the people to maintain the freedom at each level. Limited democratic rule can be discussed as the power which restricts the leaders to have absolute power with the inclination towards the lawmakers to abide by the absolute powers created by the government. Also, limited powers are gained by the high-profile individuals and also citizens are required to adhere with the constitutional powers. Hence, Fig.  1 shows the distribution of the five types of political regimes among the vaccination data and democracy emerged as the most common form of governance.

figure 1

The percentages breakdown of political regimes for countries that were surveyed for SARS-Cov-2 vaccination

In, Figs.  2 and 3 the illustrated images identify the vaccination trends and vaccines used by the compared nations for varied authoritative and democratic governances.

figure 2

The vaccines used and vaccination trends of nations under authoritarian rule

figure 3

The vaccines used and vaccination trends of some democratic nations

The comparison of trends shows that dissemination of the SARS-Cov-2 vaccine has been done between the two opposing types of governance. Both types have used a combination of vaccines and the graphs show a rising trend thus marking extensive acceptance among the citizens.

The next impacting factor that was considered for vaccine dissemination was the literacy of the nations. The WHO literacy rates from the year 2016 [ 27 ] were used to shortlist nations with the lowest and highest literacy rates. The shortlisted nations were then analyzed for preferred vaccines and dissemination trends. Figures  4 and 5 show trends for nations with the lowest and highest literacy rates respectively.

figure 4

Vaccination trends with the lowest literacy rates in the year 2016

figure 5

The vaccines used and vaccination trends of nations with the highest literacy rates in the year 2016

A country's literacy rate is an indicator of its economy and living standards. In agreement with this statement, the vaccination trends show that nations with the poorest literacy rates have extremely low and flat growth curves for vaccination numbers. On the other hand, the nations that have the highest literacy rates boast of good living conditions and better vaccination figures. These nations also used a combination of multiple vaccines for the faster safeguard of their population.

Another impacting factor that this study focused on was the vaccination dissemination trends in comparison with the health expenses of different nations. Each nation sets aside a percentage of the GDP towards the betterment of healthcare and its implementation. The health expenditure data hosted by the World Bank for the year 2018 [ 28 ] was used to get expenditure figures of the nations. Figures  6 and 7 show trends for nations with the lowest and highest healthcare expenses respectively. The curves are strong indicators that the nations that spend more on healthcare were the ones that had the best SARS-Cov-2 vaccination rollout. These nations used a large number of vaccines to administer to their population and the trends were positive growth. While the nations with the lowest healthcare expenses failed to keep up with the demand and depended on vaccines donated by other countries to protect their population. The curves grew slowly over time, while some were flat and showed slow progress.

figure 6

The vaccines used and vaccination trends of nations with the lowest expenditure on healthcare

figure 7

The vaccines used and vaccination trends of nations with the highest expenditure on healthcare

The human race has progressed through several inventions, and vaccines have been one of the most important of them all.

While vaccines have been successful in improving the life expectancy of the masses, the technology is still riddled with distrust and negative sentiment among the masses. This sentiment gets further aggravated due to controversies and low confidence in scientific research. It is but evident that the difference in ideology can be attributed to the demographics that the persons with negative sentiment belong to. The ideology of a person is governed by their cultural background and the other conditions that prevail in their country. These may include political factors like the government regime, economic factors like GDP and generic economic status, and literacy rates.

In this paper, we have analysed how vaccination dissemination and acceptance were affected by the political and socio-economic factors where the features were ardently study in retrospect of varied socio- economic features which may include country wise literacy rate, overall GDP rate and others. While, the world is battling with the global pandemic of SARS-Cov-2, sentiment towards vaccination has again come into the limelight. The authors have analyzed the confidence in vaccinations before the Covid pandemic happened and found that the European and Western Pacific nations were least confident. Japan, known to be a risk-averse nation also showed a major concern in vaccine safety to fully trust them. The countries with positive sentiment towards vaccination were a mix of developed and developing nations. In the post-Covid scenario, the analysis showed that the dissemination of the SARS-Cov-2 vaccine had been comparable between the authoritarian and democratic types of governance. The vaccination trends also showed that the nations with the poorest literacy rates had extremely low and flat growth curves for vaccination numbers. The nations that spent more on healthcare were the ones that had the best SARS-Cov-2 vaccination rollout. These nations used a large number of vaccines to administer to their population and the trends were positive growth. While the nations with the lowest healthcare expenses failed to keep up with the demand and depended on vaccines donated by other countries to protect their population. With this analysis, the authors hope that better vaccination strategies can be drafted as suited to the geopolitical factors of different countries.

Availability of data and materials

The qualitative data extracted and analysed during the current study is publicly available but can be discussed or made available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. All documents analysed are publicly available and referenced in this article.

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We thank all the organizations involved for research throughputs and supportive discussions in the development of this research project.

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Centre for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Ritu Chauhan

Amity Institute of Information Technology, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Gatha Varma

Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

UniKL – LR Univ Joint ICT Laboratory (KLR-JIL), Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – La Rochelle University, France, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Megat F. Zuhairi

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R.C & G.V wrote the main manuscript. The theoretical concept was designed by R.C while the structural content and framework was designed by E.Y & M.F.Z. The implementation of research was conducted by R.C and G.V. The author(s) read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Megat F. Zuhairi .

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The data used for the analysis was published by Our World in Data under the Creative Commons BY license. All methods were performed in accordance with the relevant guidelines and regulations. The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available in the following repositories. . . .

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Chauhan, R., Varma, G., Yafi, E. et al. The impact of geo-political socio-economic factors on vaccine dissemination trends: a case-study on COVID-19 vaccination strategies. BMC Public Health 23 , 2142 (2023).

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Case Study Thesis Statement Examples, How to Write, Tips

What is a case study thesis statement – definition, what is an example of a case study thesis statement, 100 case study thesis statement examples.

case study thesis statement examples

  • Analyzing the success of Apple’s iPhone X launch, it’s evident that the blend of technological innovation and targeted marketing resulted in record-breaking sales figures globally.
  • A deep dive into London’s urban planning post-2000 reveals a significant push towards sustainable infrastructure, reducing the city’s carbon footprint by 12%.
  • In studying patient recovery rates at the ABC Rehabilitation Center, it becomes clear that personalized therapy programs yield a 25% faster recovery time compared to generic methods.
  • A review of Brazil’s reforestation efforts in the last decade demonstrates that community involvement is a pivotal factor, with local engagement accelerating afforestation by 18%.
  • Exploring the financial collapse of Company XYZ in 2019, mismanagement of funds and a lack of internal audits were the predominant causes leading to its bankruptcy.
  • The rise in mental health issues among high school students from 2015-2020, as examined in Region A, strongly correlates with increased social media usage and cyberbullying incidents.
  • A detailed analysis of Japan’s public transport system reveals that timely investments in technology and maintenance are primary reasons for its 99% punctuality rate.
  • Studying the diet patterns of Mediterranean regions provides insights into lower cardiovascular disease rates, highlighting the benefits of olive oil, fish, and whole grains.
  • The decline in print media sales from 2000-2020, as evident in the case of Magazine ABC, is largely due to the surge in digital content consumption and changing reader habits.
  • In assessing the success of the ‘Clean River’ campaign in City B, it’s observed that public awareness drives and stricter industrial regulations reduced water pollution by 30%
  • An examination of solar energy adoption in Rural Region X indicates that governmental subsidies coupled with community workshops played a pivotal role in increasing installations by 40% in five years.
  • By delving into the cultural revival in City Y, it’s apparent that grassroots movements and local art festivals were instrumental in rejuvenating traditional art forms and bolstering tourism.
  • A study of telecommuting trends during the 2020 pandemic reveals that companies with pre-existing digital infrastructure reported a smoother transition and a mere 5% drop in productivity.
  • Through analyzing the public health response in Country Z during the measles outbreak, it’s clear that rapid immunization drives and public awareness campaigns curbed the spread by 60%.
  • A review of the organic farming movement in Region P shows that farmer cooperatives and government-backed training sessions were crucial in tripling organic produce output in a decade.
  • Assessing the success factors behind Brand Q’s viral ad campaign, a blend of humor, social relevance, and effective online targeting resulted in a 300% ROI.
  • An in-depth look at the urban wildlife conservation initiative in City R suggests that integrating green corridors and public education were key to increasing urban biodiversity by 20%.
  • Studying the economic turnaround of City S post-recession, it emerges that a combination of SME incentives, infrastructure investments, and tourism promotions led to a steady 7% GDP growth.
  • Exploring the education overhaul in District T, the introduction of experiential learning methods and teacher training programs significantly improved student performance metrics across all grades.
  • The analysis of e-commerce trends in Country U during the festive season underscores that localized marketing campaigns and easy return policies boosted sales by an unprecedented 45%
  • An exploration of the rehabilitation programs in Prison V reveals that the integration of vocational training reduced recidivism rates by 15% over three years.
  • Investigating the decline of traditional crafts in Region W, it becomes apparent that globalized market pressures and a generational shift in career preferences were primary contributors.
  • The analysis of startup ecosystem growth in City X demonstrates that mentorship programs and venture capital accessibility were crucial drivers, leading to a 50% increase in successful startup launches.
  • In evaluating the healthcare system of Country Y, the strategic placement of clinics and telemedicine integration were central to achieving a 90% accessibility rate in remote areas.
  • Studying the architectural evolution in City Z, the emphasis on eco-friendly designs and green spaces has significantly enhanced residents’ quality of life and reduced energy consumption.
  • A detailed assessment of the digital literacy program in District A1 indicates that hands-on workshops and collaboration with tech companies led to a 30% increase in digital skills among the elderly.
  • The case study of the MNO Music Festival shows that blending international and local artists, along with immersive cultural experiences, resulted in a tripling of international attendees.
  • In examining the rebranding strategy of Company B2, leveraging user-generated content and transparency in production processes garnered a 60% boost in brand loyalty.
  • Exploring the impact of the ‘Green School’ initiative in Region C3, schools that integrated environmental education witnessed a marked increase in student-led sustainability projects.
  • By delving into the tourism dynamics of Island D4, it’s observed that the emphasis on eco-tourism and cultural preservation led to sustained tourism growth without ecological degradation.
  • A deep dive into the public transport upgrades in City E5 reveals that the inclusion of smart ticketing systems and real-time tracking improved user satisfaction rates by 25%.
  • Analyzing the performance of the XYZ sports team over a decade, the focus on grassroots talent recruitment and continuous training regimes was key to their championship victories.
  • A study of the fast-food industry shifts in Region F6 showcases that the introduction of plant-based menu options was instrumental in capturing a new health-conscious demographic.
  • Through assessing the cybersecurity reforms in Organization G7, proactive threat monitoring and employee training drastically reduced security breaches by 80%.
  • An examination of the ‘Urban Forest’ project in City H8 underlines that community participation and periodic maintenance drives ensured a 90% survival rate of planted trees.
  • Investigating the cultural festival in Village I9, the collaboration with local artisans and digital promotions drew an unprecedented global audience, revitalizing the local economy
  • The scrutiny of e-learning trends in School J10 revealed that blending video tutorials with interactive assignments resulted in higher student engagement and a 20% improvement in test scores.
  • In studying the revamp of the K11 shopping mall, the introduction of experiential retail spaces and diversified dining options significantly increased footfall and monthly sales.
  • By analyzing the success of the L12 mobile banking app, user-friendly interfaces combined with robust security measures led to a user adoption rate surpassing 70% within the first year.
  • The comprehensive review of NGO M13’s outreach programs indicates that localized content and leveraging social media influencers amplified awareness, doubling donations received.
  • An in-depth study of the transportation overhaul in City N14 highlights that integrating cycling lanes and pedestrian zones reduced vehicular traffic by 15% and enhanced urban livability.
  • A case study on the O15 biotech startup’s rapid growth identifies that collaborations with academic institutions and a focus on sustainable solutions were critical success factors.
  • Investigating the wildlife conservation measures in Park P16, the integration of community-based surveillance and eco-tourism initiatives resulted in a 10% rise in endangered species populations.
  • Exploring the dynamics of the Q17 film festival, the embrace of indie filmmakers and diversification into virtual screenings expanded the global audience base by threefold.
  • Through a detailed assessment of the R18 smart city project, data-driven decision-making and public-private partnerships accelerated infrastructure development and improved resident satisfaction.
  • A study of the resurgence of traditional crafts in Village S19 underscores that governmental grants combined with e-commerce platforms enabled artisans to reach global markets and triple their income.
  • By analyzing the mental health initiative in University T20, the introduction of peer counseling and mindfulness workshops led to a 30% decrease in reported student stress levels.
  • In evaluating the U21 sustainable farming project, the practice of crop rotation and organic pest control methods doubled yields without compromising soil health.
  • A deep dive into the V22 robotics industry shows that investments in research and development, coupled with industry-academia partnerships, positioned the region as a global leader in automation solutions.
  • The case study of the W23 urban renewal initiative reveals that preserving historical sites while integrating modern amenities revitalized the district and boosted tourism by 40%
  • Exploring the telehealth revolution in Hospital X24, it’s evident that user-centric design coupled with real-time patient support drastically reduced waiting times and enhanced patient satisfaction.
  • A review of the Z25 green tech startup’s rise showcases how tapping into emerging markets and prioritizing local adaptations enabled a 250% growth rate over two years.
  • By analyzing the Y26 literary festival’s global success, forging partnerships with international publishers and leveraging livestreamed sessions captured a diversified and engaged global readership.
  • In evaluating the urban art projects of City A27, integrating community artists and sourcing local materials led to culturally resonant artworks and rejuvenated public spaces.
  • The detailed study of B28’s freshwater conservation strategies highlights that community education, combined with sustainable fishing practices, restored marine life balance within a decade.
  • Through a comprehensive look at the C29 space tech firm’s accomplishments, early investments in satellite miniaturization positioned it as a front-runner in commercial space solutions.
  • By delving into the digital transformation of Retailer D30, the integration of augmented reality for virtual try-ons significantly boosted online sales and reduced return rates.
  • A study of the E31 desert afforestation initiative reveals that harnessing native drought-resistant flora and community-based irrigation systems successfully greened over 10,000 hectares.
  • Exploring F32’s inclusive education reforms, a curriculum designed with multi-modal teaching techniques led to improved learning outcomes for differently-abled students.
  • In examining the eco-tourism drive of Island G33, maintaining a balance between visitor volume and ecological sustainability ensured steady revenue without environmental degradation.
  • Analyzing the H34 online gaming platform’s surge in popularity, community engagement features and regional game localization were instrumental in its global user base expansion.
  • A review of the I35 urban cycling initiative shows that creating cyclist-friendly infrastructure, coupled with public awareness campaigns, led to a 20% increase in daily cycling commuters.
  • In studying J36’s public library modernization project, the fusion of digital archives with interactive learning zones increased visitor numbers and enhanced community learning.
  • By evaluating the K37 corporate wellness program, a holistic approach encompassing mental health, fitness, and nutrition resulted in a 15% reduction in employee sick days.
  • A detailed look at the L38 organic coffee farming cooperative identifies that fair-trade certifications and eco-friendly processing techniques doubled farmer profits and market reach.
  • Exploring the M39 microfinance model in developing regions shows that leveraging mobile technology and community leaders made financial services accessible to previously unbanked populations.
  • The case study of N40’s anti-pollution drive reveals that using technology for real-time air quality monitoring and public alerts led to actionable civic interventions and clearer skies.
  • Analyzing the O41 cultural dance revival initiative, collaborations with schools and televised events reintroduced traditional dances to younger generations, preserving cultural heritage.
  • Through studying the P42 renewable energy project, community-owned solar and wind farms not only achieved energy self-sufficiency but also created local employment opportunities.
  • By examining Q43’s digital archival project, crowdsourcing contributions and integrating multimedia storytelling resurrected historical narratives for a global digital audience.
  • In reviewing the R44 disaster response initiative, utilizing drones and AI-driven analytics for real-time situation assessment led to a 30% faster rescue response.
  • Exploring the success of the S45 women’s empowerment project, localized workshops and financial literacy programs led to the establishment of over 500 women-led businesses.
  • Analyzing the T46 urban farming revolution, rooftop gardens and vertical farming technologies not only reduced the carbon footprint but also bolstered local food security.
  • Through a detailed examination of U47’s mental health awareness campaign, leveraging celebrity ambassadors and social media channels destigmatized mental health discussions among young adults.
  • The study of V48’s coastal conservation initiative reveals that coral transplantation and sustainable tourism practices significantly enhanced marine biodiversity and local livelihoods.
  • By scrutinizing the W49 digital arts program, collaborations with global tech firms and virtual exhibitions brought contemporary art to a wider and more diversified audience.
  • In evaluating the X50 grassroots sports initiative, talent scouting at school levels and offering specialized training camps led to a surge in regional sports achievements.
  • Exploring the Y51 urban greenery project, the symbiotic integration of flora with urban structures, like bus stops and building facades, transformed the cityscape and improved air quality.
  • Through analyzing the Z52 elderly wellness initiative, mobile health check-ups and community gathering events significantly improved the well-being and social connectedness of seniors.
  • A deep dive into A53’s tech literacy drive for rural regions showcases that mobile classrooms and gamified learning tools bridged the digital divide, empowering communities.
  • Investigating B54’s smart waste management project, sensor-fitted bins and data-driven route optimization for collection trucks minimized operational costs and improved city cleanliness.
  • The case study of C55’s heritage restoration initiative highlights that a blend of traditional craftsmanship with modern conservation techniques revitalized historical landmarks, boosting tourism.
  • In studying D56’s alternative education model, experiential outdoor learning and community projects fostered holistic student development and real-world problem-solving skills.
  • By analyzing E57’s urban transit solution, electric buses paired with dynamic route algorithms resulted in reduced traffic congestion and a decrease in emissions.
  • The examination of F58’s sustainable fashion movement indicates that upcycling workshops and eco-conscious designer collaborations led to a greener fashion industry with reduced waste.
  • Through a deep dive into G59’s wildlife rehabilitation project, mobile veterinary units and habitat restoration measures significantly increased the population of endangered species.
  • In assessing H60’s collaborative workspace model, creating modular designs and fostering community events led to increased startup incubation and knowledge exchange.
  • Studying the I61 teletherapy initiative, the integration of wearable tech for biometric feedback and real-time counseling support made mental health care more accessible and tailored.
  • The review of J62’s community theater resurgence underlines that offering free training workshops and forging school partnerships enriched cultural landscapes and nurtured local talent.
  • By evaluating K63’s clean water initiative in remote areas, solar-powered desalination units and community-led maintenance ensured uninterrupted access to potable water.
  • Exploring the L64 sustainable architecture movement, it’s evident that the incorporation of passive solar design and green roofs reduced building energy consumption by up to 40%.
  • Through a detailed analysis of the M65 virtual reality (VR) in education program, integrating VR expeditions and interactive simulations led to a 20% increase in student comprehension.
  • The study of N66’s eco-village development project reveals that community-owned renewable energy systems and permaculture designs fostered self-sufficiency and resilience.
  • By reviewing the O67’s inclusive playground initiative, universally designed play equipment and sensory-friendly zones catered to children of all abilities, promoting inclusivity and joy.
  • Investigating the P68’s digital heritage preservation, utilizing 3D scanning and augmented reality brought ancient monuments and artifacts to life for global audiences.
  • By scrutinizing the Q69’s local organic produce movement, direct farmer-to-consumer platforms and community-supported agriculture initiatives revitalized local economies and promoted healthy living.
  • A deep dive into the R70’s urban beekeeping project indicates that rooftop apiaries and bee-friendly green spaces boosted pollinator populations, benefiting both biodiversity and urban agriculture.
  • In evaluating the S71’s community radio station initiative, platforms that prioritized local news and indigenous languages fostered civic participation and cultural pride.
  • Exploring the success of T72’s renewable energy transition, investments in grid-tied wind and solar farms led to the region achieving carbon neutrality within a decade.
  • The review of U73’s zero-waste community challenge highlights that community workshops on composting, recycling, and upcycling drastically reduced landfill contributions and elevated environmental consciousness.

Case Study Thesis Statement Example for Argumentative Essay

  • Despite the surge in e-commerce, a case study on Brick & Mortar Retail Y1 reveals that experiential in-store shopping can significantly boost customer loyalty and overall sales.
  • Examining the X2 city’s public transport model, it’s evident that prioritizing bicycles over cars results in healthier urban environments and happier citizens.
  • By studying vegan diets through the Z3 health initiative, there is undeniable evidence that plant-based diets lead to improved overall health metrics when compared to omnivorous diets.
  • Through a deep dive into the A4’s shift to remote work, productivity levels and employee well-being evidently increase when offered flexible work arrangements.
  • In the debate over renewable versus fossil fuels, the B5 country’s successful transition showcases the undeniable economic and environmental advantages of renewable energy.
  • Analyzing the C6 city’s urban greening project, it’s clear that community gardens play a pivotal role in crime reduction and social cohesion.
  • A study on the D7’s educational reforms reveals that continuous assessment, as opposed to one-off exams, offers a more comprehensive understanding of student capabilities.
  • By evaluating the E8’s plastic ban initiative, environmental rejuvenation and improved public health metrics affirm the necessity of eliminating single-use plastics.
  • Exploring the F9’s universal healthcare model, there’s a robust argument that public health services lead to more equitable societies and better health outcomes.
  • The success of the G10’s work-life balance policies underscores that a shorter workweek can lead to heightened productivity and enhanced employee satisfaction.

Case Study Thesis Statement Example for Research Paper

  • An extensive analysis of the H11 city’s water conservation techniques presents innovative methodologies that have achieved a 30% reduction in urban water consumption.
  • Investigating the I12’s coral reef restoration projects, recent advancements in marine biology have been instrumental in rejuvenating dying reef ecosystems.
  • The in-depth research on J13’s forest management strategies reveals the successful intersection of indigenous knowledge and modern conservation techniques.
  • A comprehensive study on the K14’s biodynamic farming practices demonstrates their impact on soil health and crop yield enhancement.
  • Researching L15’s approach to mental health, community-based interventions, and localized therapy models have shown significant efficacy.
  • By delving into M16’s urban waste management, innovative recycling technologies are revolutionizing urban sustainability and waste reduction.
  • The examination of N17’s digital literacy programs for seniors demonstrates adaptive pedagogies tailored for older learners, resulting in improved tech proficiency.
  • In-depth research on O18’s tidal energy projects presents groundbreaking advancements in harnessing marine energy for sustainable power generation.
  • A study of P19’s green building materials showcases the potential for sustainable construction without compromising on durability or aesthetics.
  • Extensive research on Q20’s citizen science initiatives has shed light on the profound impact of public engagement in scientific discoveries.

Case Study Essay Thesis Statement Example for Essay Writing

  • The revitalization of the R21 town square serves as a testament to the profound impact of urban design on community engagement and cultural preservation.
  • Exploring the journey of S22’s artisanal chocolate brand offers insights into the nuances of combining traditional recipes with modern marketing.
  • The success story of the T23’s community library initiative illustrates the timeless importance of books and shared spaces in fostering community spirit.
  • Through a narrative on U24’s eco-tourism model, the delicate balance between conservation, commerce, and community involvement comes to the fore.
  • V25’s transformation from a tech-averse community to a digital hub showcases the ripple effects of targeted tech education and infrastructure investment.
  • The tale of W26’s fight against deforestation illuminates the intertwining of grassroots activism, governmental policy, and global collaboration.
  • X27’s journey in preserving endangered languages paints a vivid picture of the role of technology in safeguarding cultural heritage.
  • Diving into Y28’s transition from coal to solar energy portrays the challenges, victories, and transformative power of collective will.
  • The story of Z29’s grassroots sports academy gives a glimpse into the potential of talent nurtured through community support and dedication.
  • A narrative on A30’s urban art movement elucidates the transformative power of public art in redefining cityscapes and fostering local talent.

Does a case study have a thesis statement?

What is a thesis statement for a case study analysis, how do you write a thesis statement for a case study – step by step guide.

  • Select Your Case: Before you can write a thesis statement, you need to choose a case that offers enough substance and relevance. Your case should be representative or unique enough to provide meaningful insights.
  • Conduct Thorough Research: Dive deep into the details of your case. Understand its history, the key players involved, its significance, and its outcomes.
  • Identify Key Themes or Patterns: As you research, note down recurring themes or patterns that emerge. These will often hint at the broader implications of the case.
  • Formulate Your Argument: Based on your observations, craft an argument or insight about the case. Ask yourself what the case reveals about a broader phenomenon or what makes this case particularly significant.
  • Be Specific: Your thesis statement should be precise. Avoid vague or overly broad statements. Instead, focus on the specific insights or conclusions you’ve drawn from the case.
  • Write and Refine: Draft your thesis statement. It should be one or two sentences long, capturing the essence of your argument. Revisit and refine it to ensure clarity and conciseness.

Tips for Writing a Case Study Thesis Statement

  • Keep it Focused: Your thesis statement should be concise and directly related to the case in question. Avoid generalities or unrelated observations.
  • Be Evidence-Based: Ensure that your thesis statement can be backed up with evidence from the case study. It should be a result of your analysis, not a preconceived notion.
  • Avoid Jargon: Keep your thesis statement accessible. It should be understandable even to those unfamiliar with the specifics of the case.
  • Stay Objective: While your thesis statement will represent your analysis and perspective, it’s crucial to base it on facts and avoid unnecessary biases.
  • Seek Feedback: Once you’ve crafted your thesis statement, share it with peers or mentors. Their feedback can help refine your thesis and ensure it captures the essence of your case study effectively.

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25 Thesis Statement Examples That Will Make Writing a Breeze


Understanding what makes a good thesis statement is one of the major keys to writing a great research paper or argumentative essay. The thesis statement is where you make a claim that will guide you through your entire paper. If you find yourself struggling to make sense of your paper or your topic, then it's likely due to a weak thesis statement.

Let's take a minute to first understand what makes a solid thesis statement, and what key components you need to write one of your own.

Perfecting Your Thesis Statement

A thesis statement always goes at the beginning of the paper. It will typically be in the first couple of paragraphs of the paper so that it can introduce the body paragraphs, which are the supporting evidence for your thesis statement.

Your thesis statement should clearly identify an argument. You need to have a statement that is not only easy to understand, but one that is debatable. What that means is that you can't just put any statement of fact and have it be your thesis. For example, everyone knows that puppies are cute . An ineffective thesis statement would be, "Puppies are adorable and everyone knows it." This isn't really something that's a debatable topic.

Something that would be more debatable would be, "A puppy's cuteness is derived from its floppy ears, small body, and playfulness." These are three things that can be debated on. Some people might think that the cutest thing about puppies is the fact that they follow you around or that they're really soft and fuzzy.

All cuteness aside, you want to make sure that your thesis statement is not only debatable, but that it also actually thoroughly answers the research question that was posed. You always want to make sure that your evidence is supporting a claim that you made (and not the other way around). This is why it's crucial to read and research about a topic first and come to a conclusion later. If you try to get your research to fit your thesis statement, then it may not work out as neatly as you think. As you learn more, you discover more (and the outcome may not be what you originally thought).

Additionally, your thesis statement shouldn't be too big or too grand. It'll be hard to cover everything in a thesis statement like, "The federal government should act now on climate change." The topic is just too large to actually say something new and meaningful. Instead, a more effective thesis statement might be, "Local governments can combat climate change by providing citizens with larger recycling bins and offering local classes about composting and conservation." This is easier to work with because it's a smaller idea, but you can also discuss the overall topic that you might be interested in, which is climate change.

So, now that we know what makes a good, solid thesis statement, you can start to write your own. If you find that you're getting stuck or you are the type of person who needs to look at examples before you start something, then check out our list of thesis statement examples below.

Thesis statement examples

A quick note that these thesis statements have not been fully researched. These are merely examples to show you what a thesis statement might look like and how you can implement your own ideas into one that you think of independently. As such, you should not use these thesis statements for your own research paper purposes. They are meant to be used as examples only.

  • Vaccinations Because many children are unable to vaccinate due to illness, we must require that all healthy and able children be vaccinated in order to have herd immunity.
  • Educational Resources for Low-Income Students Schools should provide educational resources for low-income students during the summers so that they don't forget what they've learned throughout the school year.
  • School Uniforms School uniforms may be an upfront cost for families, but they eradicate the visual differences in income between students and provide a more egalitarian atmosphere at school.
  • Populism The rise in populism on the 2016 political stage was in reaction to increasing globalization, the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the Syrian refugee crisis.
  • Public Libraries Libraries are essential resources for communities and should be funded more heavily by local municipalities.
  • Cyber Bullying With more and more teens using smartphones and social media, cyber bullying is on the rise. Cyber bullying puts a lot of stress on many teens, and can cause depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. Parents should limit the usage of smart phones, monitor their children's online activity, and report any cyber bullying to school officials in order to combat this problem.
  • Medical Marijuana for Veterans Studies have shown that the use of medicinal marijuana has been helpful to veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Medicinal marijuana prescriptions should be legal in all states and provided to these veterans. Additional medical or therapy services should also be researched and implemented in order to help them re-integrate back into civilian life.
  • Work-Life Balance Corporations should provide more work from home opportunities and six-hour workdays so that office workers have a better work-life balance and are more likely to be productive when they are in the office.
  • Teaching Youths about Consensual Sex Although sex education that includes a discussion of consensual sex would likely lead to less sexual assault, parents need to teach their children the meaning of consent from a young age with age appropriate lessons.
  • Whether or Not to Attend University A degree from a university provides invaluable lessons on life and a future career, but not every high school student should be encouraged to attend a university directly after graduation. Some students may benefit from a trade school or a "gap year" where they can think more intensely about what it is they want to do for a career and how they can accomplish this.
  • Studying Abroad Studying abroad is one of the most culturally valuable experiences you can have in college. It is the only way to get completely immersed in another language and learn how other cultures and countries are different from your own.
  • Women's Body Image Magazines have done a lot in the last five years to include a more diverse group of models, but there is still a long way to go to promote a healthy woman's body image collectively as a culture.
  • Cigarette Tax Heavily taxing and increasing the price of cigarettes is essentially a tax on the poorest Americans, and it doesn't deter them from purchasing. Instead, the state and federal governments should target those economically disenfranchised with early education about the dangers of smoking.
  • Veganism A vegan diet, while a healthy and ethical way to consume food, indicates a position of privilege. It also limits you to other cultural food experiences if you travel around the world.
  • University Athletes Should be Compensated University athletes should be compensated for their service to the university, as it is difficult for these students to procure and hold a job with busy academic and athletic schedules. Many student athletes on scholarship also come from low-income neighborhoods and it is a struggle to make ends meet when they are participating in athletics.
  • Women in the Workforce Sheryl Sandberg makes a lot of interesting points in her best-selling book, Lean In , but she only addressed the very privileged working woman and failed to speak to those in lower-skilled, lower-wage jobs.
  • Assisted Suicide Assisted suicide should be legal and doctors should have the ability to make sure their patients have the end-of-life care that they want to receive.
  • Celebrity and Political Activism Although Taylor Swift's lyrics are indicative of a feminist perspective, she should be more politically active and vocal to use her position of power for the betterment of society.
  • The Civil War The insistence from many Southerners that the South seceded from the Union for states' rights versus the fact that they seceded for the purposes of continuing slavery is a harmful myth that still affects race relations today.
  • Blue Collar Workers Coal miners and other blue-collar workers whose jobs are slowly disappearing from the workforce should be re-trained in jobs in the technology sector or in renewable energy. A program to re-train these workers would not only improve local economies where jobs have been displaced, but would also lead to lower unemployment nationally.
  • Diversity in the Workforce Having a diverse group of people in an office setting leads to richer ideas, more cooperation, and more empathy between people with different skin colors or backgrounds.
  • Re-Imagining the Nuclear Family The nuclear family was traditionally defined as one mother, one father, and 2.5 children. This outdated depiction of family life doesn't quite fit with modern society. The definition of normal family life shouldn't be limited to two-parent households.
  • Digital Literacy Skills With more information readily available than ever before, it's crucial that students are prepared to examine the material they're reading and determine whether or not it's a good source or if it has misleading information. Teaching students digital literacy and helping them to understand the difference between opinion or propaganda from legitimate, real information is integral.
  • Beauty Pageants Beauty pageants are presented with the angle that they empower women. However, putting women in a swimsuit on a stage while simultaneously judging them on how well they answer an impossible question in a short period of time is cruel and purely for the amusement of men. Therefore, we should stop televising beauty pageants.
  • Supporting More Women to Run for a Political Position In order to get more women into political positions, more women must run for office. There must be a grassroots effort to educate women on how to run for office, who among them should run, and support for a future candidate for getting started on a political career.

Still stuck? Need some help with your thesis statement?

If you are still uncertain about how to write a thesis statement or what a good thesis statement is, be sure to consult with your teacher or professor to make sure you're on the right track. It's always a good idea to check in and make sure that your thesis statement is making a solid argument and that it can be supported by your research.

After you're done writing, it's important to have someone take a second look at your paper so that you can ensure there are no mistakes or errors. It's difficult to spot your own mistakes, which is why it's always recommended to have someone help you with the revision process, whether that's a teacher, the writing center at school, or a professional editor such as one from ServiceScape .

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Hydrogen Feasibility Study for Enfinium

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Enfinium is a leader in the energy-from-waste sector and operates four decarbonisation hubs that transform waste into electricity and recycle metals, with two more in development within the UK.

However, the electricity market is undergoing a period of massive transformation as it moves from a system dominated by large, centralised fossil-fuel base load stations to a more decentralised system with significant generation from intermittent renewable sources. In parallel, the journey to decarbonise the gas grid is just beginning and there is significant interest in the substitution of hydrogen for natural gas as a key means of achieving it.

Therefore, the production of hydrogen from waste rather than or as well as electricity offers several potential commercial opportunities:

  • Export / sell the hydrogen to the national gas grid
  • Sell the hydrogen directly to a local industrial user
  • Store the hydrogen and then use it to generate electricity to exploit arbitrage / variability in electricity market pricing
  • Technological assessment of potential suppliers
  • Development of concept design for deployment of hydrogen generation at five sites
  • AACE Class 5 CAPEX cost estimate and OPEX estimate of equivalent accuracy
  • Report with findings and recommendations

The study formed part of a wider assessment of the technical and commercial feasibility of hydrogen production developments at the customer energy-from-waste sites. Anthesis was commissioned to deliver the initial technical prefeasibility study, focussing on defining the core hydrogen generation technology and associated balance of the plant.

Enfinium set the following aims for the project:

  • Establish the maximum quantity of hydrogen that can be generated on-site
  • Identify the key limiting factors for hydrogen generation on-site
  • Estimate the CAPEX and OPEX for hydrogen plants capable of producing this maximum quantity of hydroge on each site

Recognising that the maximum scenario was unlikely to reflect a project that would be developed in the short-medium term, Anthesis also produced a preliminary design for a demonstrator plant that would represent the likely first stage of hydrogen generation rollout.

Electrolytic hydrogen generation was found to be technically feasible at all the sites, at varying scales. At all sites, town water was used as the water source for the electrolysis process and the electricity generated by the EfW as the power source.

The limiting factors at each site were mainly associated with available power generation, but also with surface area availability and long-term industrial demand for Hydrogen. In the short term, the limiting factor across all sites will be tangible hydrogen demand. Anthesis worked with a supplier of small-scale mobile refuelling unit to develop a demonstrator site that would be suitable for short-term development.

Anthesis identified the sites that appear best suited to hydrogen in the short term and prepared a feasibility study for a demonstrator plant to be rolled out as the first step.


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Decarbonising heat: navigating the path to net zero.

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Supporting the Inter-American Development Bank to Release Green Hydrogen Report

Anthesis is pleased to have supported the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to release its latest report on the Environmental, Health, Safety, and Social Management of Green Hydrogen in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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