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  • What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 22, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, 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 analyze the case, other interesting articles.

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

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

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.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

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

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

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.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

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

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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 analyze 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.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
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McCombes, S. (2023, June 22). What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods. Scribbr. Retrieved November 21, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/case-study/

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Research Method

Home » Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Table of Contents

Case Study Research

A case study is a research method that involves an in-depth examination and analysis of a particular phenomenon or case, such as an individual, organization, community, event, or situation.

It is a qualitative research approach that aims to provide a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the case being studied. Case studies typically involve multiple sources of data, including interviews, observations, documents, and artifacts, which are analyzed using various techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, and grounded theory. The findings of a case study are often used to develop theories, inform policy or practice, or generate new research questions.

Types of Case Study

Types and Methods of Case Study are as follows:

Single-Case Study

A single-case study is an in-depth analysis of a single case. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to understand a specific phenomenon in detail.

For Example , A researcher might conduct a single-case study on a particular individual to understand their experiences with a particular health condition or a specific organization to explore their management practices. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of a single-case study are often used to generate new research questions, develop theories, or inform policy or practice.

Multiple-Case Study

A multiple-case study involves the analysis of several cases that are similar in nature. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to identify similarities and differences between the cases.

For Example, a researcher might conduct a multiple-case study on several companies to explore the factors that contribute to their success or failure. The researcher collects data from each case, compares and contrasts the findings, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as comparative analysis or pattern-matching. The findings of a multiple-case study can be used to develop theories, inform policy or practice, or generate new research questions.

Exploratory Case Study

An exploratory case study is used to explore a new or understudied phenomenon. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to generate hypotheses or theories about the phenomenon.

For Example, a researcher might conduct an exploratory case study on a new technology to understand its potential impact on society. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as grounded theory or content analysis. The findings of an exploratory case study can be used to generate new research questions, develop theories, or inform policy or practice.

Descriptive Case Study

A descriptive case study is used to describe a particular phenomenon in detail. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to provide a comprehensive account of the phenomenon.

For Example, a researcher might conduct a descriptive case study on a particular community to understand its social and economic characteristics. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of a descriptive case study can be used to inform policy or practice or generate new research questions.

Instrumental Case Study

An instrumental case study is used to understand a particular phenomenon that is instrumental in achieving a particular goal. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to understand the role of the phenomenon in achieving the goal.

For Example, a researcher might conduct an instrumental case study on a particular policy to understand its impact on achieving a particular goal, such as reducing poverty. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of an instrumental case study can be used to inform policy or practice or generate new research questions.

Case Study Data Collection Methods

Here are some common data collection methods for case studies:

Interviews involve asking questions to individuals who have knowledge or experience relevant to the case study. Interviews can be structured (where the same questions are asked to all participants) or unstructured (where the interviewer follows up on the responses with further questions). Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing.

Observations

Observations involve watching and recording the behavior and activities of individuals or groups relevant to the case study. Observations can be participant (where the researcher actively participates in the activities) or non-participant (where the researcher observes from a distance). Observations can be recorded using notes, audio or video recordings, or photographs.

Documents can be used as a source of information for case studies. Documents can include reports, memos, emails, letters, and other written materials related to the case study. Documents can be collected from the case study participants or from public sources.

Surveys involve asking a set of questions to a sample of individuals relevant to the case study. Surveys can be administered in person, over the phone, through mail or email, or online. Surveys can be used to gather information on attitudes, opinions, or behaviors related to the case study.

Artifacts are physical objects relevant to the case study. Artifacts can include tools, equipment, products, or other objects that provide insights into the case study phenomenon.

How to conduct Case Study Research

Conducting a case study research involves several steps that need to be followed to ensure the quality and rigor of the study. Here are the steps to conduct case study research:

  • Define the research questions: The first step in conducting a case study research is to define the research questions. The research questions should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the case study phenomenon under investigation.
  • Select the case: The next step is to select the case or cases to be studied. The case should be relevant to the research questions and should provide rich and diverse data that can be used to answer the research questions.
  • Collect data: Data can be collected using various methods, such as interviews, observations, documents, surveys, and artifacts. The data collection method should be selected based on the research questions and the nature of the case study phenomenon.
  • Analyze the data: The data collected from the case study should be analyzed using various techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, or grounded theory. The analysis should be guided by the research questions and should aim to provide insights and conclusions relevant to the research questions.
  • Draw conclusions: The conclusions drawn from the case study should be based on the data analysis and should be relevant to the research questions. The conclusions should be supported by evidence and should be clearly stated.
  • Validate the findings: The findings of the case study should be validated by reviewing the data and the analysis with participants or other experts in the field. This helps to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Write the report: The final step is to write the report of the case study research. The report should provide a clear description of the case study phenomenon, the research questions, the data collection methods, the data analysis, the findings, and the conclusions. The report should be written in a clear and concise manner and should follow the guidelines for academic writing.

Examples of Case Study

Here are some examples of case study research:

  • The Hawthorne Studies : Conducted between 1924 and 1932, the Hawthorne Studies were a series of case studies conducted by Elton Mayo and his colleagues to examine the impact of work environment on employee productivity. The studies were conducted at the Hawthorne Works plant of the Western Electric Company in Chicago and included interviews, observations, and experiments.
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment: Conducted in 1971, the Stanford Prison Experiment was a case study conducted by Philip Zimbardo to examine the psychological effects of power and authority. The study involved simulating a prison environment and assigning participants to the role of guards or prisoners. The study was controversial due to the ethical issues it raised.
  • The Challenger Disaster: The Challenger Disaster was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. The study included interviews, observations, and analysis of data to identify the technical, organizational, and cultural factors that contributed to the disaster.
  • The Enron Scandal: The Enron Scandal was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the Enron Corporation’s bankruptcy in 2001. The study included interviews, analysis of financial data, and review of documents to identify the accounting practices, corporate culture, and ethical issues that led to the company’s downfall.
  • The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster : The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the nuclear accident that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011. The study included interviews, analysis of data, and review of documents to identify the technical, organizational, and cultural factors that contributed to the disaster.

Application of Case Study

Case studies have a wide range of applications across various fields and industries. Here are some examples:

Business and Management

Case studies are widely used in business and management to examine real-life situations and develop problem-solving skills. Case studies can help students and professionals to develop a deep understanding of business concepts, theories, and best practices.

Case studies are used in healthcare to examine patient care, treatment options, and outcomes. Case studies can help healthcare professionals to develop critical thinking skills, diagnose complex medical conditions, and develop effective treatment plans.

Case studies are used in education to examine teaching and learning practices. Case studies can help educators to develop effective teaching strategies, evaluate student progress, and identify areas for improvement.

Social Sciences

Case studies are widely used in social sciences to examine human behavior, social phenomena, and cultural practices. Case studies can help researchers to develop theories, test hypotheses, and gain insights into complex social issues.

Law and Ethics

Case studies are used in law and ethics to examine legal and ethical dilemmas. Case studies can help lawyers, policymakers, and ethical professionals to develop critical thinking skills, analyze complex cases, and make informed decisions.

Purpose of Case Study

The purpose of a case study is to provide a detailed analysis of a specific phenomenon, issue, or problem in its real-life context. A case study is a qualitative research method that involves the in-depth exploration and analysis of a particular case, which can be an individual, group, organization, event, or community.

The primary purpose of a case study is to generate a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the case, including its history, context, and dynamics. Case studies can help researchers to identify and examine the underlying factors, processes, and mechanisms that contribute to the case and its outcomes. This can help to develop a more accurate and detailed understanding of the case, which can inform future research, practice, or policy.

Case studies can also serve other purposes, including:

  • Illustrating a theory or concept: Case studies can be used to illustrate and explain theoretical concepts and frameworks, providing concrete examples of how they can be applied in real-life situations.
  • Developing hypotheses: Case studies can help to generate hypotheses about the causal relationships between different factors and outcomes, which can be tested through further research.
  • Providing insight into complex issues: Case studies can provide insights into complex and multifaceted issues, which may be difficult to understand through other research methods.
  • Informing practice or policy: Case studies can be used to inform practice or policy by identifying best practices, lessons learned, or areas for improvement.

Advantages of Case Study Research

There are several advantages of case study research, including:

  • In-depth exploration: Case study research allows for a detailed exploration and analysis of a specific phenomenon, issue, or problem in its real-life context. This can provide a comprehensive understanding of the case and its dynamics, which may not be possible through other research methods.
  • Rich data: Case study research can generate rich and detailed data, including qualitative data such as interviews, observations, and documents. This can provide a nuanced understanding of the case and its complexity.
  • Holistic perspective: Case study research allows for a holistic perspective of the case, taking into account the various factors, processes, and mechanisms that contribute to the case and its outcomes. This can help to develop a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the case.
  • Theory development: Case study research can help to develop and refine theories and concepts by providing empirical evidence and concrete examples of how they can be applied in real-life situations.
  • Practical application: Case study research can inform practice or policy by identifying best practices, lessons learned, or areas for improvement.
  • Contextualization: Case study research takes into account the specific context in which the case is situated, which can help to understand how the case is influenced by the social, cultural, and historical factors of its environment.

Limitations of Case Study Research

There are several limitations of case study research, including:

  • Limited generalizability : Case studies are typically focused on a single case or a small number of cases, which limits the generalizability of the findings. The unique characteristics of the case may not be applicable to other contexts or populations, which may limit the external validity of the research.
  • Biased sampling: Case studies may rely on purposive or convenience sampling, which can introduce bias into the sample selection process. This may limit the representativeness of the sample and the generalizability of the findings.
  • Subjectivity: Case studies rely on the interpretation of the researcher, which can introduce subjectivity into the analysis. The researcher’s own biases, assumptions, and perspectives may influence the findings, which may limit the objectivity of the research.
  • Limited control: Case studies are typically conducted in naturalistic settings, which limits the control that the researcher has over the environment and the variables being studied. This may limit the ability to establish causal relationships between variables.
  • Time-consuming: Case studies can be time-consuming to conduct, as they typically involve a detailed exploration and analysis of a specific case. This may limit the feasibility of conducting multiple case studies or conducting case studies in a timely manner.
  • Resource-intensive: Case studies may require significant resources, including time, funding, and expertise. This may limit the ability of researchers to conduct case studies in resource-constrained settings.

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  • Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

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.

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

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.

Cite this Scribbr article

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McCombes, S. (2023, January 30). Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods. Scribbr. Retrieved 21 November 2023, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/case-studies/

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Writing a Case Study

Hands holding a world globe

What is a case study?

A Map of the world with hands holding a pen.

A Case study is: 

  • An in-depth research design that primarily uses a qualitative methodology but sometimes​​ includes quantitative methodology.
  • Used to examine an identifiable problem confirmed through research.
  • Used to investigate an individual, group of people, organization, or event.
  • Used to mostly answer "how" and "why" questions.

What are the different types of case studies?

Man and woman looking at a laptop

Note: These are the primary case studies. As you continue to research and learn

about case studies you will begin to find a robust list of different types. 

Who are your case study participants?

Boys looking through a camera

What is triangulation ? 

Validity and credibility are an essential part of the case study. Therefore, the researcher should include triangulation to ensure trustworthiness while accurately reflecting what the researcher seeks to investigate.

Triangulation image with examples

How to write a Case Study?

When developing a case study, there are different ways you could present the information, but remember to include the five parts for your case study.

Man holding his hand out to show five fingers.

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Definition and Introduction

Case analysis is a problem-based teaching and learning method that involves critically analyzing complex scenarios within an organizational setting for the purpose of placing the student in a “real world” situation and applying reflection and critical thinking skills to contemplate appropriate solutions, decisions, or recommended courses of action. It is considered a more effective teaching technique than in-class role playing or simulation activities. The analytical process is often guided by questions provided by the instructor that ask students to contemplate relationships between the facts and critical incidents described in the case.

Cases generally include both descriptive and statistical elements and rely on students applying abductive reasoning to develop and argue for preferred or best outcomes [i.e., case scenarios rarely have a single correct or perfect answer based on the evidence provided]. Rather than emphasizing theories or concepts, case analysis assignments emphasize building a bridge of relevancy between abstract thinking and practical application and, by so doing, teaches the value of both within a specific area of professional practice.

Given this, the purpose of a case analysis paper is to present a structured and logically organized format for analyzing the case situation. It can be assigned to students individually or as a small group assignment and it may include an in-class presentation component. Case analysis is predominately taught in economics and business-related courses, but it is also a method of teaching and learning found in other applied social sciences disciplines, such as, social work, public relations, education, journalism, and public administration.

Ellet, William. The Case Study Handbook: A Student's Guide . Revised Edition. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2018; Christoph Rasche and Achim Seisreiner. Guidelines for Business Case Analysis . University of Potsdam; Writing a Case Analysis . Writing Center, Baruch College; Volpe, Guglielmo. "Case Teaching in Economics: History, Practice and Evidence." Cogent Economics and Finance 3 (December 2015). doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/23322039.2015.1120977.

How to Approach Writing a Case Analysis Paper

The organization and structure of a case analysis paper can vary depending on the organizational setting, the situation, and how your professor wants you to approach the assignment. Nevertheless, preparing to write a case analysis paper involves several important steps. As Hawes notes, a case analysis assignment “...is useful in developing the ability to get to the heart of a problem, analyze it thoroughly, and to indicate the appropriate solution as well as how it should be implemented” [p.48]. This statement encapsulates how you should approach preparing to write a case analysis paper.

Before you begin to write your paper, consider the following analytical procedures:

  • Review the case to get an overview of the situation . A case can be only a few pages in length, however, it is most often very lengthy and contains a significant amount of detailed background information and statistics, with multilayered descriptions of the scenario, the roles and behaviors of various stakeholder groups, and situational events. Therefore, a quick reading of the case will help you gain an overall sense of the situation and illuminate the types of issues and problems that you will need to address in your paper. If your professor has provided questions intended to help frame your analysis, use them to guide your initial reading of the case.
  • Read the case thoroughly . After gaining a general overview of the case, carefully read the content again with the purpose of understanding key circumstances, events, and behaviors among stakeholder groups. Look for information or data that appears contradictory, extraneous, or misleading. At this point, you should be taking notes as you read because this will help you develop a general outline of your paper. The aim is to obtain a complete understanding of the situation so that you can begin contemplating tentative answers to any questions your professor has provided or, if they have not provided, developing answers to your own questions about the case scenario and its connection to the course readings,lectures, and class discussions.
  • Determine key stakeholder groups, issues, and events and the relationships they all have to each other . As you analyze the content, pay particular attention to identifying individuals, groups, or organizations described in the case and identify evidence of any problems or issues of concern that impact the situation in a negative way. Other things to look for include identifying any assumptions being made by or about each stakeholder, potential biased explanations or actions, explicit demands or ultimatums , and the underlying concerns that motivate these behaviors among stakeholders. The goal at this stage is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the situational and behavioral dynamics of the case and the explicit and implicit consequences of each of these actions.
  • Identify the core problems . The next step in most case analysis assignments is to discern what the core [i.e., most damaging, detrimental, injurious] problems are within the organizational setting and to determine their implications. The purpose at this stage of preparing to write your analysis paper is to distinguish between the symptoms of core problems and the core problems themselves and to decide which of these must be addressed immediately and which problems do not appear critical but may escalate over time. Identify evidence from the case to support your decisions by determining what information or data is essential to addressing the core problems and what information is not relevant or is misleading.
  • Explore alternative solutions . As noted, case analysis scenarios rarely have only one correct answer. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the process of analyzing the case and diagnosing core problems, while based on evidence, is a subjective process open to various avenues of interpretation. This means that you must consider alternative solutions or courses of action by critically examining strengths and weaknesses, risk factors, and the differences between short and long-term solutions. For each possible solution or course of action, consider the consequences they may have related to their implementation and how these recommendations might lead to new problems. Also, consider thinking about your recommended solutions or courses of action in relation to issues of fairness, equity, and inclusion.
  • Decide on a final set of recommendations . The last stage in preparing to write a case analysis paper is to assert an opinion or viewpoint about the recommendations needed to help resolve the core problems as you see them and to make a persuasive argument for supporting this point of view. Prepare a clear rationale for your recommendations based on examining each element of your analysis. Anticipate possible obstacles that could derail their implementation. Consider any counter-arguments that could be made concerning the validity of your recommended actions. Finally, describe a set of criteria and measurable indicators that could be applied to evaluating the effectiveness of your implementation plan.

Use these steps as the framework for writing your paper. Remember that the more detailed you are in taking notes as you critically examine each element of the case, the more information you will have to draw from when you begin to write. This will save you time.

NOTE : If the process of preparing to write a case analysis paper is assigned as a student group project, consider having each member of the group analyze a specific element of the case, including drafting answers to the corresponding questions used by your professor to frame the analysis. This will help make the analytical process more efficient and ensure that the distribution of work is equitable. This can also facilitate who is responsible for drafting each part of the final case analysis paper and, if applicable, the in-class presentation.

Framework for Case Analysis . College of Management. University of Massachusetts; Hawes, Jon M. "Teaching is Not Telling: The Case Method as a Form of Interactive Learning." Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 5 (Winter 2004): 47-54; Rasche, Christoph and Achim Seisreiner. Guidelines for Business Case Analysis . University of Potsdam; Writing a Case Study Analysis . University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center; Van Ness, Raymond K. A Guide to Case Analysis . School of Business. State University of New York, Albany; Writing a Case Analysis . Business School, University of New South Wales.

Structure and Writing Style

A case analysis paper should be detailed, concise, persuasive, clearly written, and professional in tone and in the use of language . As with other forms of college-level academic writing, declarative statements that convey information, provide a fact, or offer an explanation or any recommended courses of action should be based on evidence. If allowed by your professor, any external sources used to support your analysis, such as course readings, should be properly cited under a list of references. The organization and structure of case analysis papers can vary depending on your professor’s preferred format, but its structure generally follows the steps used for analyzing the case.

Introduction

The introduction should provide a succinct but thorough descriptive overview of the main facts, issues, and core problems of the case . The introduction should also include a brief summary of the most relevant details about the situation and organizational setting. This includes defining the theoretical framework or conceptual model on which any questions were used to frame your analysis.

Following the rules of most college-level research papers, the introduction should then inform the reader how the paper will be organized. This includes describing the major sections of the paper and the order in which they will be presented. Unless you are told to do so by your professor, you do not need to preview your final recommendations in the introduction. U nlike most college-level research papers , the introduction does not include a statement about the significance of your findings because a case analysis assignment does not involve contributing new knowledge about a research problem.

Background Analysis

Background analysis can vary depending on any guiding questions provided by your professor and the underlying concept or theory that the case is based upon. In general, however, this section of your paper should focus on:

  • Providing an overarching analysis of problems identified from the case scenario, including identifying events that stakeholders find challenging or troublesome,
  • Identifying assumptions made by each stakeholder and any apparent biases they may exhibit,
  • Describing any demands or claims made by or forced upon key stakeholders, and
  • Highlighting any issues of concern or complaints expressed by stakeholders in response to those demands or claims.

These aspects of the case are often in the form of behavioral responses expressed by individuals or groups within the organizational setting. However, note that problems in a case situation can also be reflected in data [or the lack thereof] and in the decision-making, operational, cultural, or institutional structure of the organization. Additionally, demands or claims can be either internal and external to the organization [e.g., a case analysis involving a president considering arms sales to Saudi Arabia could include managing internal demands from White House advisors as well as demands from members of Congress].

Throughout this section, present all relevant evidence from the case that supports your analysis. Do not simply claim there is a problem, an assumption, a demand, or a concern; tell the reader what part of the case informed how you identified these background elements.

Identification of Problems

In most case analysis assignments, there are problems, and then there are problems . Each problem can reflect a multitude of underlying symptoms that are detrimental to the interests of the organization. The purpose of identifying problems is to teach students how to differentiate between problems that vary in severity, impact, and relative importance. Given this, problems can be described in three general forms: those that must be addressed immediately, those that should be addressed but the impact is not severe, and those that do not require immediate attention and can be set aside for the time being.

All of the problems you identify from the case should be identified in this section of your paper, with a description based on evidence explaining the problem variances. If the assignment asks you to conduct research to further support your assessment of the problems, include this in your explanation. Remember to cite those sources in a list of references. Use specific evidence from the case and apply appropriate concepts, theories, and models discussed in class or in relevant course readings to highlight and explain the key problems [or problem] that you believe must be solved immediately and describe the underlying symptoms and why they are so critical.

Alternative Solutions

This section is where you provide specific, realistic, and evidence-based solutions to the problems you have identified and make recommendations about how to alleviate the underlying symptomatic conditions impacting the organizational setting. For each solution, you must explain why it was chosen and provide clear evidence to support your reasoning. This can include, for example, course readings and class discussions as well as research resources, such as, books, journal articles, research reports, or government documents. In some cases, your professor may encourage you to include personal, anecdotal experiences as evidence to support why you chose a particular solution or set of solutions. Using anecdotal evidence helps promote reflective thinking about the process of determining what qualifies as a core problem and relevant solution .

Throughout this part of the paper, keep in mind the entire array of problems that must be addressed and describe in detail the solutions that might be implemented to resolve these problems.

Recommended Courses of Action

In some case analysis assignments, your professor may ask you to combine the alternative solutions section with your recommended courses of action. However, it is important to know the difference between the two. A solution refers to the answer to a problem. A course of action refers to a procedure or deliberate sequence of activities adopted to proactively confront a situation, often in the context of accomplishing a goal. In this context, proposed courses of action are based on your analysis of alternative solutions. Your description and justification for pursuing each course of action should represent the overall plan for implementing your recommendations.

For each course of action, you need to explain the rationale for your recommendation in a way that confronts challenges, explains risks, and anticipates any counter-arguments from stakeholders. Do this by considering the strengths and weaknesses of each course of action framed in relation to how the action is expected to resolve the core problems presented, the possible ways the action may affect remaining problems, and how the recommended action will be perceived by each stakeholder.

In addition, you should describe the criteria needed to measure how well the implementation of these actions is working and explain which individuals or groups are responsible for ensuring your recommendations are successful. In addition, always consider the law of unintended consequences. Outline difficulties that may arise in implementing each course of action and describe how implementing the proposed courses of action [either individually or collectively] may lead to new problems [both large and small].

Throughout this section, you must consider the costs and benefits of recommending your courses of action in relation to uncertainties or missing information and the negative consequences of success.

The conclusion should be brief and introspective. Unlike a research paper, the conclusion in a case analysis paper does not include a summary of key findings and their significance, a statement about how the study contributed to existing knowledge, or indicate opportunities for future research.

Begin by synthesizing the core problems presented in the case and the relevance of your recommended solutions. This can include an explanation of what you have learned about the case in the context of your answers to the questions provided by your professor. The conclusion is also where you link what you learned from analyzing the case with the course readings or class discussions. This can further demonstrate your understanding of the relationships between the practical case situation and the theoretical and abstract content of assigned readings and other course content.

Problems to Avoid

The literature on case analysis assignments often includes examples of difficulties students have with applying methods of critical analysis and effectively reporting the results of their assessment of the situation. A common reason cited by scholars is that the application of this type of teaching and learning method is limited to applied fields of social and behavioral sciences and, as a result, writing a case analysis paper can be unfamiliar to most students entering college.

After you have drafted your paper, proofread the narrative flow and revise any of these common errors:

  • Unnecessary detail in the background section . The background section should highlight the essential elements of the case based on your analysis. Focus on summarizing the facts and highlighting the key factors that become relevant in the other sections of the paper by eliminating any unnecessary information.
  • Analysis relies too much on opinion . Your analysis is interpretive, but the narrative must be connected clearly to evidence from the case and any models and theories discussed in class or in course readings. Any positions or arguments you make should be supported by evidence.
  • Analysis does not focus on the most important elements of the case . Your paper should provide a thorough overview of the case. However, the analysis should focus on providing evidence about what you identify are the key events, stakeholders, issues, and problems. Emphasize what you identify as the most critical aspects of the case to be developed throughout your analysis. Be thorough but succinct.
  • Writing is too descriptive . A paper with too much descriptive information detracts from your analysis of the complexities of the case situation. Questions about what happened, where, when, and by whom should only be included as essential information leading to your examination of questions related to why, how, and for what purpose.
  • Inadequate definition of a core problem and associated symptoms . A common error found in case analysis papers is recommending a solution or course of action without adequately defining or demonstrating that you understand the problem. Make sure you have clearly described the problem and its impact and scope within the organizational setting. Ensure that you have adequately described the root causes w hen describing the symptoms of the problem.
  • Recommendations lack specificity . Identify any use of vague statements and indeterminate terminology, such as, “A particular experience” or “a large increase to the budget.” These statements cannot be measured and, as a result, there is no way to evaluate their successful implementation. Provide specific data and use direct language in describing recommended actions.
  • Unrealistic, exaggerated, or unattainable recommendations . Review your recommendations to ensure that they are based on the situational facts of the case. Your recommended solutions and courses of action must be based on realistic assumptions and fit within the constraints of the situation. Also note that the case scenario has already happened, therefore, any speculation or arguments about what could have occurred if the circumstances were different should be revised or eliminated.

Bee, Lian Song et al. "Business Students' Perspectives on Case Method Coaching for Problem-Based Learning: Impacts on Student Engagement and Learning Performance in Higher Education." Education & Training 64 (2022): 416-432; The Case Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Grand Valley State University; Georgallis, Panikos and Kayleigh Bruijn. "Sustainability Teaching using Case-Based Debates." Journal of International Education in Business 15 (2022): 147-163; Hawes, Jon M. "Teaching is Not Telling: The Case Method as a Form of Interactive Learning." Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 5 (Winter 2004): 47-54; Georgallis, Panikos, and Kayleigh Bruijn. "Sustainability Teaching Using Case-based Debates." Journal of International Education in Business 15 (2022): 147-163; .Dean,  Kathy Lund and Charles J. Fornaciari. "How to Create and Use Experiential Case-Based Exercises in a Management Classroom." Journal of Management Education 26 (October 2002): 586-603; Klebba, Joanne M. and Janet G. Hamilton. "Structured Case Analysis: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in a Marketing Case Course." Journal of Marketing Education 29 (August 2007): 132-137, 139; Klein, Norman. "The Case Discussion Method Revisited: Some Questions about Student Skills." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 30-32; Mukherjee, Arup. "Effective Use of In-Class Mini Case Analysis for Discovery Learning in an Undergraduate MIS Course." The Journal of Computer Information Systems 40 (Spring 2000): 15-23; Pessoa, Silviaet al. "Scaffolding the Case Analysis in an Organizational Behavior Course: Making Analytical Language Explicit." Journal of Management Education 46 (2022): 226-251: Ramsey, V. J. and L. D. Dodge. "Case Analysis: A Structured Approach." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 27-29; Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Write and Format a Business Case Study." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-write-and-format-a-business-case-study-466324 (accessed December 5, 2022); Reddy, C. D. "Teaching Research Methodology: Everything's a Case." Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods 18 (December 2020): 178-188; Volpe, Guglielmo. "Case Teaching in Economics: History, Practice and Evidence." Cogent Economics and Finance 3 (December 2015). doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/23322039.2015.1120977.

Writing Tip

Ca se Study and Case Analysis Are Not the Same!

Confusion often exists between what it means to write a paper that uses a case study research design and writing a paper that analyzes a case; they are two different types of approaches to learning in the social and behavioral sciences. Professors as well as educational researchers contribute to this confusion because they often use the term "case study" when describing the subject of analysis for a case analysis paper. But you are not studying a case for the purpose of generating a comprehensive, multi-faceted understanding of a research problem. R ather, you are critically analyzing a specific scenario to argue logically for recommended solutions and courses of action that lead to optimal outcomes applicable to professional practice.

To avoid any confusion, here are twelve characteristics that delineate the differences between writing a paper using the case study research method and writing a case analysis paper:

  • Case study is a method of in-depth research and rigorous inquiry ; case analysis is a reliable method of teaching and learning . A case study is a modality of research that investigates a phenomenon for the purpose of creating new knowledge, solving a problem, or testing a hypothesis using empirical evidence derived from the case being studied. Often, the results are used to generalize about a larger population or within a wider context. The writing adheres to the traditional standards of a scholarly research study. A case analysis is a pedagogical tool used to teach students how to reflect and think critically about a practical, real-life problem in an organizational setting.
  • The researcher is responsible for identifying the case to study; a case analysis is assigned by your professor . As the researcher, you choose the case study to investigate in support of obtaining new knowledge and understanding about the research problem. The case in a case analysis assignment is almost always provided, and sometimes written, by your professor and either given to every student in class to analyze individually or to a small group of students, or students select a case to analyze from a predetermined list.
  • A case study is indeterminate and boundless; a case analysis is predetermined and confined . A case study can be almost anything [see item 9 below] as long as it relates directly to examining the research problem. This relationship is the only limit to what a researcher can choose as the subject of their case study. The content of a case analysis is determined by your professor and its parameters are well-defined and limited to elucidating insights of practical value applied to practice.
  • Case study is fact-based and describes actual events or situations; case analysis can be entirely fictional or adapted from an actual situation . The entire content of a case study must be grounded in reality to be a valid subject of investigation in an empirical research study. A case analysis only needs to set the stage for critically examining a situation in practice and, therefore, can be entirely fictional or adapted, all or in-part, from an actual situation.
  • Research using a case study method must adhere to principles of intellectual honesty and academic integrity; a case analysis scenario can include misleading or false information . A case study paper must report research objectively and factually to ensure that any findings are understood to be logically correct and trustworthy. A case analysis scenario may include misleading or false information intended to deliberately distract from the central issues of the case. The purpose is to teach students how to sort through conflicting or useless information in order to come up with the preferred solution. Any use of misleading or false information in academic research is considered unethical.
  • Case study is linked to a research problem; case analysis is linked to a practical situation or scenario . In the social sciences, the subject of an investigation is most often framed as a problem that must be researched in order to generate new knowledge leading to a solution. Case analysis narratives are grounded in real life scenarios for the purpose of examining the realities of decision-making behavior and processes within organizational settings. A case analysis assignments include a problem or set of problems to be analyzed. However, the goal is centered around the act of identifying and evaluating courses of action leading to best possible outcomes.
  • The purpose of a case study is to create new knowledge through research; the purpose of a case analysis is to teach new understanding . Case studies are a choice of methodological design intended to create new knowledge about resolving a research problem. A case analysis is a mode of teaching and learning intended to create new understanding and an awareness of uncertainty applied to practice through acts of critical thinking and reflection.
  • A case study seeks to identify the best possible solution to a research problem; case analysis can have an indeterminate set of solutions or outcomes . Your role in studying a case is to discover the most logical, evidence-based ways to address a research problem. A case analysis assignment rarely has a single correct answer because one of the goals is to force students to confront the real life dynamics of uncertainly, ambiguity, and missing or conflicting information within professional practice. Under these conditions, a perfect outcome or solution almost never exists.
  • Case study is unbounded and relies on gathering external information; case analysis is a self-contained subject of analysis . The scope of a case study chosen as a method of research is bounded. However, the researcher is free to gather whatever information and data is necessary to investigate its relevance to understanding the research problem. For a case analysis assignment, your professor will often ask you to examine solutions or recommended courses of action based solely on facts and information from the case.
  • Case study can be a person, place, object, issue, event, condition, or phenomenon; a case analysis is a carefully constructed synopsis of events, situations, and behaviors . The research problem dictates the type of case being studied and, therefore, the design can encompass almost anything tangible as long as it fulfills the objective of generating new knowledge and understanding. A case analysis is in the form of a narrative containing descriptions of facts, situations, processes, rules, and behaviors within a particular setting and under a specific set of circumstances.
  • Case study can represent an open-ended subject of inquiry; a case analysis is a narrative about something that has happened in the past . A case study is not restricted by time and can encompass an event or issue with no temporal limit or end. For example, the current war in Ukraine can be used as a case study of how medical personnel help civilians during a large military conflict, even though circumstances around this event are still evolving. A case analysis can be used to elicit critical thinking about current or future situations in practice, but the case itself is a narrative about something finite and that has taken place in the past.
  • Multiple case studies can be used in a research study; case analysis involves examining a single scenario . Case study research can use two or more cases to examine a problem, often for the purpose of conducting a comparative investigation intended to discover hidden relationships, document emerging trends, or determine variations among different examples. A case analysis assignment typically describes a stand-alone, self-contained situation and any comparisons among cases are conducted during in-class discussions and/or student presentations.

The Case Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Grand Valley State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Ramsey, V. J. and L. D. Dodge. "Case Analysis: A Structured Approach." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 27-29; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2017; Crowe, Sarah et al. “The Case Study Approach.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 11 (2011):  doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-100; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing; 1994.

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in research case study

The Ultimate Guide to Qualitative Research - Part 1: The Basics

in research case study

  • Introduction and overview
  • What is qualitative research?
  • What is qualitative data?
  • Examples of qualitative data
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative research
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative research preparation
  • Theoretical perspective
  • Theoretical framework
  • Literature reviews

Research question

  • Conceptual framework
  • Conceptual vs. theoretical framework

Data collection

  • Qualitative research methods
  • Focus groups
  • Observational research

What is a case study?

Applications for case study research, what is a good case study, process of case study design, benefits and limitations of case studies.

  • Ethnographical research
  • Ethical considerations
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Power dynamics
  • Reflexivity

Case studies

Case studies are essential to qualitative research , offering a lens through which researchers can investigate complex phenomena within their real-life contexts. This chapter explores the concept, purpose, applications, examples, and types of case studies and provides guidance on how to conduct case study research effectively.

in research case study

Whereas quantitative methods look at phenomena at scale, case study research looks at a concept or phenomenon in considerable detail. While analyzing a single case can help understand one perspective regarding the object of research inquiry, analyzing multiple cases can help obtain a more holistic sense of the topic or issue. Let's provide a basic definition of a case study, then explore its characteristics and role in the qualitative research process.

Definition of a case study

A case study in qualitative research is a strategy of inquiry that involves an in-depth investigation of a phenomenon within its real-world context. It provides researchers with the opportunity to acquire an in-depth understanding of intricate details that might not be as apparent or accessible through other methods of research. The specific case or cases being studied can be a single person, group, or organization – demarcating what constitutes a relevant case worth studying depends on the researcher and their research question .

Among qualitative research methods , a case study relies on multiple sources of evidence, such as documents, artifacts, interviews , or observations , to present a complete and nuanced understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. The objective is to illuminate the readers' understanding of the phenomenon beyond its abstract statistical or theoretical explanations.

Characteristics of case studies

Case studies typically possess a number of distinct characteristics that set them apart from other research methods. These characteristics include a focus on holistic description and explanation, flexibility in the design and data collection methods, reliance on multiple sources of evidence, and emphasis on the context in which the phenomenon occurs.

Furthermore, case studies can often involve a longitudinal examination of the case, meaning they study the case over a period of time. These characteristics allow case studies to yield comprehensive, in-depth, and richly contextualized insights about the phenomenon of interest.

The role of case studies in research

Case studies hold a unique position in the broader landscape of research methods aimed at theory development. They are instrumental when the primary research interest is to gain an intensive, detailed understanding of a phenomenon in its real-life context.

In addition, case studies can serve different purposes within research - they can be used for exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory purposes, depending on the research question and objectives. This flexibility and depth make case studies a valuable tool in the toolkit of qualitative researchers.

Remember, a well-conducted case study can offer a rich, insightful contribution to both academic and practical knowledge through theory development or theory verification, thus enhancing our understanding of complex phenomena in their real-world contexts.

What is the purpose of a case study?

Case study research aims for a more comprehensive understanding of phenomena, requiring various research methods to gather information for qualitative analysis . Ultimately, a case study can allow the researcher to gain insight into a particular object of inquiry and develop a theoretical framework relevant to the research inquiry.

Why use case studies in qualitative research?

Using case studies as a research strategy depends mainly on the nature of the research question and the researcher's access to the data.

Conducting case study research provides a level of detail and contextual richness that other research methods might not offer. They are beneficial when there's a need to understand complex social phenomena within their natural contexts.

The explanatory, exploratory, and descriptive roles of case studies

Case studies can take on various roles depending on the research objectives. They can be exploratory when the research aims to discover new phenomena or define new research questions; they are descriptive when the objective is to depict a phenomenon within its context in a detailed manner; and they can be explanatory if the goal is to understand specific relationships within the studied context. Thus, the versatility of case studies allows researchers to approach their topic from different angles, offering multiple ways to uncover and interpret the data .

The impact of case studies on knowledge development

Case studies play a significant role in knowledge development across various disciplines. Analysis of cases provides an avenue for researchers to explore phenomena within their context based on the collected data.

in research case study

This can result in the production of rich, practical insights that can be instrumental in both theory-building and practice. Case studies allow researchers to delve into the intricacies and complexities of real-life situations, uncovering insights that might otherwise remain hidden.

Types of case studies

In qualitative research , a case study is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on the nature of the research question and the specific objectives of the study, researchers might choose to use different types of case studies. These types differ in their focus, methodology, and the level of detail they provide about the phenomenon under investigation.

Understanding these types is crucial for selecting the most appropriate approach for your research project and effectively achieving your research goals. Let's briefly look at the main types of case studies.

Exploratory case studies

Exploratory case studies are typically conducted to develop a theory or framework around an understudied phenomenon. They can also serve as a precursor to a larger-scale research project. Exploratory case studies are useful when a researcher wants to identify the key issues or questions which can spur more extensive study or be used to develop propositions for further research. These case studies are characterized by flexibility, allowing researchers to explore various aspects of a phenomenon as they emerge, which can also form the foundation for subsequent studies.

Descriptive case studies

Descriptive case studies aim to provide a complete and accurate representation of a phenomenon or event within its context. These case studies are often based on an established theoretical framework, which guides how data is collected and analyzed. The researcher is concerned with describing the phenomenon in detail, as it occurs naturally, without trying to influence or manipulate it.

Explanatory case studies

Explanatory case studies are focused on explanation - they seek to clarify how or why certain phenomena occur. Often used in complex, real-life situations, they can be particularly valuable in clarifying causal relationships among concepts and understanding the interplay between different factors within a specific context.

in research case study

Intrinsic, instrumental, and collective case studies

These three categories of case studies focus on the nature and purpose of the study. An intrinsic case study is conducted when a researcher has an inherent interest in the case itself. Instrumental case studies are employed when the case is used to provide insight into a particular issue or phenomenon. A collective case study, on the other hand, involves studying multiple cases simultaneously to investigate some general phenomena.

Each type of case study serves a different purpose and has its own strengths and challenges. The selection of the type should be guided by the research question and objectives, as well as the context and constraints of the research.

The flexibility, depth, and contextual richness offered by case studies make this approach an excellent research method for various fields of study. They enable researchers to investigate real-world phenomena within their specific contexts, capturing nuances that other research methods might miss. Across numerous fields, case studies provide valuable insights into complex issues.

Critical information systems research

Case studies provide a detailed understanding of the role and impact of information systems in different contexts. They offer a platform to explore how information systems are designed, implemented, and used and how they interact with various social, economic, and political factors. Case studies in this field often focus on examining the intricate relationship between technology, organizational processes, and user behavior, helping to uncover insights that can inform better system design and implementation.

Health research

Health research is another field where case studies are highly valuable. They offer a way to explore patient experiences, healthcare delivery processes, and the impact of various interventions in a real-world context.

in research case study

Case studies can provide a deep understanding of a patient's journey, giving insights into the intricacies of disease progression, treatment effects, and the psychosocial aspects of health and illness.

Asthma research studies

Specifically within medical research, studies on asthma often employ case studies to explore the individual and environmental factors that influence asthma development, management, and outcomes. A case study can provide rich, detailed data about individual patients' experiences, from the triggers and symptoms they experience to the effectiveness of various management strategies. This can be crucial for developing patient-centered asthma care approaches.

Other fields

Apart from the fields mentioned, case studies are also extensively used in business and management research, education research, and political sciences, among many others. They provide an opportunity to delve into the intricacies of real-world situations, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of various phenomena.

Case studies, with their depth and contextual focus, offer unique insights across these varied fields. They allow researchers to illuminate the complexities of real-life situations, contributing to both theory and practice.

in research case study

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Understanding the key elements of case study design is crucial for conducting rigorous and impactful case study research. A well-structured design guides the researcher through the process, ensuring that the study is methodologically sound and its findings are reliable and valid. The main elements of case study design include the research question , propositions, units of analysis, and the logic linking the data to the propositions.

The research question is the foundation of any research study. A good research question guides the direction of the study and informs the selection of the case, the methods of collecting data, and the analysis techniques. A well-formulated research question in case study research is typically clear, focused, and complex enough to merit further detailed examination of the relevant case(s).

Propositions

Propositions, though not necessary in every case study, provide a direction by stating what we might expect to find in the data collected. They guide how data is collected and analyzed by helping researchers focus on specific aspects of the case. They are particularly important in explanatory case studies, which seek to understand the relationships among concepts within the studied phenomenon.

Units of analysis

The unit of analysis refers to the case, or the main entity or entities that are being analyzed in the study. In case study research, the unit of analysis can be an individual, a group, an organization, a decision, an event, or even a time period. It's crucial to clearly define the unit of analysis, as it shapes the qualitative data analysis process by allowing the researcher to analyze a particular case and synthesize analysis across multiple case studies to draw conclusions.

Argumentation

This refers to the inferential model that allows researchers to draw conclusions from the data. The researcher needs to ensure that there is a clear link between the data, the propositions (if any), and the conclusions drawn. This argumentation is what enables the researcher to make valid and credible inferences about the phenomenon under study.

Understanding and carefully considering these elements in the design phase of a case study can significantly enhance the quality of the research. It can help ensure that the study is methodologically sound and its findings contribute meaningful insights about the case.

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Conducting a case study involves several steps, from defining the research question and selecting the case to collecting and analyzing data . This section outlines these key stages, providing a practical guide on how to conduct case study research.

Defining the research question

The first step in case study research is defining a clear, focused research question. This question should guide the entire research process, from case selection to analysis. It's crucial to ensure that the research question is suitable for a case study approach. Typically, such questions are exploratory or descriptive in nature and focus on understanding a phenomenon within its real-life context.

Selecting and defining the case

The selection of the case should be based on the research question and the objectives of the study. It involves choosing a unique example or a set of examples that provide rich, in-depth data about the phenomenon under investigation. After selecting the case, it's crucial to define it clearly, setting the boundaries of the case, including the time period and the specific context.

Previous research can help guide the case study design. When considering a case study, an example of a case could be taken from previous case study research and used to define cases in a new research inquiry. Considering recently published examples can help understand how to select and define cases effectively.

Developing a detailed case study protocol

A case study protocol outlines the procedures and general rules to be followed during the case study. This includes the data collection methods to be used, the sources of data, and the procedures for analysis. Having a detailed case study protocol ensures consistency and reliability in the study.

The protocol should also consider how to work with the people involved in the research context to grant the research team access to collecting data. As mentioned in previous sections of this guide, establishing rapport is an essential component of qualitative research as it shapes the overall potential for collecting and analyzing data.

Collecting data

Gathering data in case study research often involves multiple sources of evidence, including documents, archival records, interviews, observations, and physical artifacts. This allows for a comprehensive understanding of the case. The process for gathering data should be systematic and carefully documented to ensure the reliability and validity of the study.

Analyzing and interpreting data

The next step is analyzing the data. This involves organizing the data , categorizing it into themes or patterns , and interpreting these patterns to answer the research question. The analysis might also involve comparing the findings with prior research or theoretical propositions.

Writing the case study report

The final step is writing the case study report . This should provide a detailed description of the case, the data, the analysis process, and the findings. The report should be clear, organized, and carefully written to ensure that the reader can understand the case and the conclusions drawn from it.

Each of these steps is crucial in ensuring that the case study research is rigorous, reliable, and provides valuable insights about the case.

The type, depth, and quality of data in your study can significantly influence the validity and utility of the study. In case study research, data is usually collected from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the case. This section will outline the various methods of collecting data used in case study research and discuss considerations for ensuring the quality of the data.

Interviews are a common method of gathering data in case study research. They can provide rich, in-depth data about the perspectives, experiences, and interpretations of the individuals involved in the case. Interviews can be structured , semi-structured , or unstructured , depending on the research question and the degree of flexibility needed.

Observations

Observations involve the researcher observing the case in its natural setting, providing first-hand information about the case and its context. Observations can provide data that might not be revealed in interviews or documents, such as non-verbal cues or contextual information.

Documents and artifacts

Documents and archival records provide a valuable source of data in case study research. They can include reports, letters, memos, meeting minutes, email correspondence, and various public and private documents related to the case.

in research case study

These records can provide historical context, corroborate evidence from other sources, and offer insights into the case that might not be apparent from interviews or observations.

Physical artifacts refer to any physical evidence related to the case, such as tools, products, or physical environments. These artifacts can provide tangible insights into the case, complementing the data gathered from other sources.

Ensuring the quality of data collection

Determining the quality of data in case study research requires careful planning and execution. It's crucial to ensure that the data is reliable, accurate, and relevant to the research question. This involves selecting appropriate methods of collecting data, properly training interviewers or observers, and systematically recording and storing the data. It also includes considering ethical issues related to collecting and handling data, such as obtaining informed consent and ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the participants.

Data analysis

Analyzing case study research involves making sense of the rich, detailed data to answer the research question. This process can be challenging due to the volume and complexity of case study data. However, a systematic and rigorous approach to analysis can ensure that the findings are credible and meaningful. This section outlines the main steps and considerations in analyzing data in case study research.

Organizing the data

The first step in the analysis is organizing the data. This involves sorting the data into manageable sections, often according to the data source or the theme. This step can also involve transcribing interviews, digitizing physical artifacts, or organizing observational data.

Categorizing and coding the data

Once the data is organized, the next step is to categorize or code the data. This involves identifying common themes, patterns, or concepts in the data and assigning codes to relevant data segments. Coding can be done manually or with the help of software tools, and in either case, qualitative analysis software can greatly facilitate the entire coding process. Coding helps to reduce the data to a set of themes or categories that can be more easily analyzed.

Identifying patterns and themes

After coding the data, the researcher looks for patterns or themes in the coded data. This involves comparing and contrasting the codes and looking for relationships or patterns among them. The identified patterns and themes should help answer the research question.

Interpreting the data

Once patterns and themes have been identified, the next step is to interpret these findings. This involves explaining what the patterns or themes mean in the context of the research question and the case. This interpretation should be grounded in the data, but it can also involve drawing on theoretical concepts or prior research.

Verification of the data

The last step in the analysis is verification. This involves checking the accuracy and consistency of the analysis process and confirming that the findings are supported by the data. This can involve re-checking the original data, checking the consistency of codes, or seeking feedback from research participants or peers.

Like any research method , case study research has its strengths and limitations. Researchers must be aware of these, as they can influence the design, conduct, and interpretation of the study.

Understanding the strengths and limitations of case study research can also guide researchers in deciding whether this approach is suitable for their research question . This section outlines some of the key strengths and limitations of case study research.

Benefits include the following:

  • Rich, detailed data: One of the main strengths of case study research is that it can generate rich, detailed data about the case. This can provide a deep understanding of the case and its context, which can be valuable in exploring complex phenomena.
  • Flexibility: Case study research is flexible in terms of design , data collection , and analysis . A sufficient degree of flexibility allows the researcher to adapt the study according to the case and the emerging findings.
  • Real-world context: Case study research involves studying the case in its real-world context, which can provide valuable insights into the interplay between the case and its context.
  • Multiple sources of evidence: Case study research often involves collecting data from multiple sources , which can enhance the robustness and validity of the findings.

On the other hand, researchers should consider the following limitations:

  • Generalizability: A common criticism of case study research is that its findings might not be generalizable to other cases due to the specificity and uniqueness of each case.
  • Time and resource intensive: Case study research can be time and resource intensive due to the depth of the investigation and the amount of collected data.
  • Complexity of analysis: The rich, detailed data generated in case study research can make analyzing the data challenging.
  • Subjectivity: Given the nature of case study research, there may be a higher degree of subjectivity in interpreting the data , so researchers need to reflect on this and transparently convey to audiences how the research was conducted.

Being aware of these strengths and limitations can help researchers design and conduct case study research effectively and interpret and report the findings appropriately.

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What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

  • Nitin Nohria

in research case study

Seven meta-skills that stick even if the cases fade from memory.

It’s been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in students. This article explains the importance of seven such skills: preparation, discernment, bias recognition, judgement, collaboration, curiosity, and self-confidence.

During my decade as dean of Harvard Business School, I spent hundreds of hours talking with our alumni. To enliven these conversations, I relied on a favorite question: “What was the most important thing you learned from your time in our MBA program?”

  • Nitin Nohria is a professor and former dean at Harvard Business School and the chairman of Thrive Capital, a venture capital firm based in New York.

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What is a case study?

A case study is a type of research method. In case studies, the unit of analysis is a case . The case typically provides a detailed account of a situation that usually focuses on a conflict or complexity that one might encounter in the workplace.

  • Case studies help explain the process by which a unit (a person, department, business, organization, industry, country, etc.) deals with the issue or problem confronting it, and offers possible solutions that can be applied to other units facing similar situations.
  • The information presented in case studies is usually qualitative in nature - gathered through methods such as interview, observation, and document collection.
  • There are different types of case study, including  intrinsic, instrumental, naturalistic,  and  pragmatic.

This research guide will assist you in finding individual case studies, as well as providing information on designing case studies. If you need assistance locating information, please Ask a Librarian .

  • Next: Case Study Research >>
  • Last Updated: Nov 2, 2023 2:39 PM
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  • J Med Libr Assoc
  • v.107(1); 2019 Jan

Distinguishing case study as a research method from case reports as a publication type

The purpose of this editorial is to distinguish between case reports and case studies. In health, case reports are familiar ways of sharing events or efforts of intervening with single patients with previously unreported features. As a qualitative methodology, case study research encompasses a great deal more complexity than a typical case report and often incorporates multiple streams of data combined in creative ways. The depth and richness of case study description helps readers understand the case and whether findings might be applicable beyond that setting.

Single-institution descriptive reports of library activities are often labeled by their authors as “case studies.” By contrast, in health care, single patient retrospective descriptions are published as “case reports.” Both case reports and case studies are valuable to readers and provide a publication opportunity for authors. A previous editorial by Akers and Amos about improving case studies addresses issues that are more common to case reports; for example, not having a review of the literature or being anecdotal, not generalizable, and prone to various types of bias such as positive outcome bias [ 1 ]. However, case study research as a qualitative methodology is pursued for different purposes than generalizability. The authors’ purpose in this editorial is to clearly distinguish between case reports and case studies. We believe that this will assist authors in describing and designating the methodological approach of their publications and help readers appreciate the rigor of well-executed case study research.

Case reports often provide a first exploration of a phenomenon or an opportunity for a first publication by a trainee in the health professions. In health care, case reports are familiar ways of sharing events or efforts of intervening with single patients with previously unreported features. Another type of study categorized as a case report is an “N of 1” study or single-subject clinical trial, which considers an individual patient as the sole unit of observation in a study investigating the efficacy or side effect profiles of different interventions. Entire journals have evolved to publish case reports, which often rely on template structures with limited contextualization or discussion of previous cases. Examples that are indexed in MEDLINE include the American Journal of Case Reports , BMJ Case Reports, Journal of Medical Case Reports, and Journal of Radiology Case Reports . Similar publications appear in veterinary medicine and are indexed in CAB Abstracts, such as Case Reports in Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Record Case Reports .

As a qualitative methodology, however, case study research encompasses a great deal more complexity than a typical case report and often incorporates multiple streams of data combined in creative ways. Distinctions include the investigator’s definitions and delimitations of the case being studied, the clarity of the role of the investigator, the rigor of gathering and combining evidence about the case, and the contextualization of the findings. Delimitation is a term from qualitative research about setting boundaries to scope the research in a useful way rather than describing the narrow scope as a limitation, as often appears in a discussion section. The depth and richness of description helps readers understand the situation and whether findings from the case are applicable to their settings.

CASE STUDY AS A RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Case study as a qualitative methodology is an exploration of a time- and space-bound phenomenon. As qualitative research, case studies require much more from their authors who are acting as instruments within the inquiry process. In the case study methodology, a variety of methodological approaches may be employed to explain the complexity of the problem being studied [ 2 , 3 ].

Leading authors diverge in their definitions of case study, but a qualitative research text introduces case study as follows:

Case study research is defined as a qualitative approach in which the investigator explores a real-life, contemporary bounded system (a case) or multiple bound systems (cases) over time, through detailed, in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of information, and reports a case description and case themes. The unit of analysis in the case study might be multiple cases (a multisite study) or a single case (a within-site case study). [ 4 ]

Methodologists writing core texts on case study research include Yin [ 5 ], Stake [ 6 ], and Merriam [ 7 ]. The approaches of these three methodologists have been compared by Yazan, who focused on six areas of methodology: epistemology (beliefs about ways of knowing), definition of cases, design of case studies, and gathering, analysis, and validation of data [ 8 ]. For Yin, case study is a method of empirical inquiry appropriate to determining the “how and why” of phenomena and contributes to understanding phenomena in a holistic and real-life context [ 5 ]. Stake defines a case study as a “well-bounded, specific, complex, and functioning thing” [ 6 ], while Merriam views “the case as a thing, a single entity, a unit around which there are boundaries” [ 7 ].

Case studies are ways to explain, describe, or explore phenomena. Comments from a quantitative perspective about case studies lacking rigor and generalizability fail to consider the purpose of the case study and how what is learned from a case study is put into practice. Rigor in case studies comes from the research design and its components, which Yin outlines as (a) the study’s questions, (b) the study’s propositions, (c) the unit of analysis, (d) the logic linking the data to propositions, and (e) the criteria for interpreting the findings [ 5 ]. Case studies should also provide multiple sources of data, a case study database, and a clear chain of evidence among the questions asked, the data collected, and the conclusions drawn [ 5 ].

Sources of evidence for case studies include interviews, documentation, archival records, direct observations, participant-observation, and physical artifacts. One of the most important sources for data in qualitative case study research is the interview [ 2 , 3 ]. In addition to interviews, documents and archival records can be gathered to corroborate and enhance the findings of the study. To understand the phenomenon or the conditions that created it, direct observations can serve as another source of evidence and can be conducted throughout the study. These can include the use of formal and informal protocols as a participant inside the case or an external or passive observer outside of the case [ 5 ]. Lastly, physical artifacts can be observed and collected as a form of evidence. With these multiple potential sources of evidence, the study methodology includes gathering data, sense-making, and triangulating multiple streams of data. Figure 1 shows an example in which data used for the case started with a pilot study to provide additional context to guide more in-depth data collection and analysis with participants.

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is jmla-107-1-f001.jpg

Key sources of data for a sample case study

VARIATIONS ON CASE STUDY METHODOLOGY

Case study methodology is evolving and regularly reinterpreted. Comparative or multiple case studies are used as a tool for synthesizing information across time and space to research the impact of policy and practice in various fields of social research [ 9 ]. Because case study research is in-depth and intensive, there have been efforts to simplify the method or select useful components of cases for focused analysis. Micro-case study is a term that is occasionally used to describe research on micro-level cases [ 10 ]. These are cases that occur in a brief time frame, occur in a confined setting, and are simple and straightforward in nature. A micro-level case describes a clear problem of interest. Reporting is very brief and about specific points. The lack of complexity in the case description makes obvious the “lesson” that is inherent in the case; although no definitive “solution” is necessarily forthcoming, making the case useful for discussion. A micro-case write-up can be distinguished from a case report by its focus on briefly reporting specific features of a case or cases to analyze or learn from those features.

DATABASE INDEXING OF CASE REPORTS AND CASE STUDIES

Disciplines such as education, psychology, sociology, political science, and social work regularly publish rich case studies that are relevant to particular areas of health librarianship. Case reports and case studies have been defined as publication types or subject terms by several databases that are relevant to librarian authors: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and ERIC. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA) does not have a subject term or publication type related to cases, despite many being included in the database. Whereas “Case Reports” are the main term used by MEDLINE’s Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) and PsycINFO’s thesaurus, CINAHL and ERIC use “Case Studies.”

Case reports in MEDLINE and PsycINFO focus on clinical case documentation. In MeSH, “Case Reports” as a publication type is specific to “clinical presentations that may be followed by evaluative studies that eventually lead to a diagnosis” [ 11 ]. “Case Histories,” “Case Studies,” and “Case Study” are all entry terms mapping to “Case Reports”; however, guidance to indexers suggests that “Case Reports” should not be applied to institutional case reports and refers to the heading “Organizational Case Studies,” which is defined as “descriptions and evaluations of specific health care organizations” [ 12 ].

PsycINFO’s subject term “Case Report” is “used in records discussing issues involved in the process of conducting exploratory studies of single or multiple clinical cases.” The Methodology index offers clinical and non-clinical entries. “Clinical Case Study” is defined as “case reports that include disorder, diagnosis, and clinical treatment for individuals with mental or medical illnesses,” whereas “Non-clinical Case Study” is a “document consisting of non-clinical or organizational case examples of the concepts being researched or studied. The setting is always non-clinical and does not include treatment-related environments” [ 13 ].

Both CINAHL and ERIC acknowledge the depth of analysis in case study methodology. The CINAHL scope note for the thesaurus term “Case Studies” distinguishes between the document and the methodology, though both use the same term: “a review of a particular condition, disease, or administrative problem. Also, a research method that involves an in-depth analysis of an individual, group, institution, or other social unit. For material that contains a case study, search for document type: case study.” The ERIC scope note for the thesaurus term “Case Studies” is simple: “detailed analyses, usually focusing on a particular problem of an individual, group, or organization” [ 14 ].

PUBLICATION OF CASE STUDY RESEARCH IN LIBRARIANSHIP

We call your attention to a few examples published as case studies in health sciences librarianship to consider how their characteristics fit with the preceding definitions of case reports or case study research. All present some characteristics of case study research, but their treatment of the research questions, richness of description, and analytic strategies vary in depth and, therefore, diverge at some level from the qualitative case study research approach. This divergence, particularly in richness of description and analysis, may have been constrained by the publication requirements.

As one example, a case study by Janke and Rush documented a time- and context-bound collaboration involving a librarian and a nursing faculty member [ 15 ]. Three objectives were stated: (1) describing their experience of working together on an interprofessional research team, (2) evaluating the value of the librarian role from librarian and faculty member perspectives, and (3) relating findings to existing literature. Elements that signal the qualitative nature of this case study are that the authors were the research participants and their use of the term “evaluation” is reflection on their experience. This reads like a case study that could have been enriched by including other types of data gathered from others engaging with this team to broaden the understanding of the collaboration.

As another example, the description of the academic context is one of the most salient components of the case study written by Clairoux et al., which had the objectives of (1) describing the library instruction offered and learning assessments used at a single health sciences library and (2) discussing the positive outcomes of instruction in that setting [ 16 ]. The authors focus on sharing what the institution has done more than explaining why this institution is an exemplar to explore a focused question or understand the phenomenon of library instruction. However, like a case study, the analysis brings together several streams of data including course attendance, online material page views, and some discussion of results from surveys. This paper reads somewhat in between an institutional case report and a case study.

The final example is a single author reporting on a personal experience of creating and executing the role of research informationist for a National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded research team [ 17 ]. There is a thoughtful review of the informationist literature and detailed descriptions of the institutional context and the process of gaining access to and participating in the new role. However, the motivating question in the abstract does not seem to be fully addressed through analysis from either the reflective perspective of the author as the research participant or consideration of other streams of data from those involved in the informationist experience. The publication reads more like a case report about this informationist’s experience than a case study that explores the research informationist experience through the selection of this case.

All of these publications are well written and useful for their intended audiences, but in general, they are much shorter and much less rich in depth than case studies published in social sciences research. It may be that the authors have been constrained by word counts or page limits. For example, the submission category for Case Studies in the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) limited them to 3,000 words and defined them as “articles describing the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating a new service, program, or initiative, typically in a single institution or through a single collaborative effort” [ 18 ]. This definition’s focus on novelty and description sounds much more like the definition of case report than the in-depth, detailed investigation of a time- and space-bound problem that is often examined through case study research.

Problem-focused or question-driven case study research would benefit from the space provided for Original Investigations that employ any type of quantitative or qualitative method of analysis. One of the best examples in the JMLA of an in-depth multiple case study that was authored by a librarian who published the findings from her doctoral dissertation represented all the elements of a case study. In eight pages, she provided a theoretical basis for the research question, a pilot study, and a multiple case design, including integrated data from interviews and focus groups [ 19 ].

We have distinguished between case reports and case studies primarily to assist librarians who are new to research and critical appraisal of case study methodology to recognize the features that authors use to describe and designate the methodological approaches of their publications. For researchers who are new to case research methodology and are interested in learning more, Hancock and Algozzine provide a guide [ 20 ].

We hope that JMLA readers appreciate the rigor of well-executed case study research. We believe that distinguishing between descriptive case reports and analytic case studies in the journal’s submission categories will allow the depth of case study methodology to increase. We also hope that authors feel encouraged to pursue submitting relevant case studies or case reports for future publication.

Editor’s note: In response to this invited editorial, the Journal of the Medical Library Association will consider manuscripts employing rigorous qualitative case study methodology to be Original Investigations (fewer than 5,000 words), whereas manuscripts describing the process of developing, implementing, and assessing a new service, program, or initiative—typically in a single institution or through a single collaborative effort—will be considered to be Case Reports (formerly known as Case Studies; fewer than 3,000 words).

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

in research 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.

Read Also: 'CREDIBLE SOURCES: WHAT ARE THEY?'

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.

Introduction

  • 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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Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.

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What Is a Case Study?

An in-depth study of one person, group, or event

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

in research case study

Cara Lustik is a fact-checker and copywriter.

in research case study

Verywell / Colleen Tighe

Benefits and Limitations

Types of case studies, how to write a case study.

A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

The purpose of a case study is to learn as much as possible about an individual or group so that the information can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.

While case studies focus on a single individual or group, they follow a format similar to other types of psychology writing. If you are writing a case study, it is important to follow the rules of APA format .  

A case study can have both strengths and weaknesses. Researchers must consider these pros and cons before deciding if this type of study is appropriate for their needs.

One of the greatest advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a lab. Some other benefits of a case study:

  • Allows researchers to collect a great deal of information
  • Give researchers the chance to collect information on rare or unusual cases
  • Permits researchers to develop hypotheses that can be explored in experimental research

On the negative side, a case study:

  • Cannot necessarily be generalized to the larger population
  • Cannot demonstrate cause and effect
  • May not be scientifically rigorous
  • Can lead to bias

Researchers may choose to perform a case study if they are interested in exploring a unique or recently discovered phenomenon. The insights gained from such research can help the researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that might be explored in future studies.

However, it is important to remember that the insights gained from case studies cannot be used to determine cause and effect relationships between variables. However, case studies may be used to develop hypotheses that can then be addressed in experimental research.

Case Study Examples

There have been a number of notable case studies in the history of psychology. Much of  Freud's work and theories were developed through the use of individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include:

  • Anna O : Anna O. was a pseudonym of a woman named Bertha Pappenheim, a patient of a physician named Josef Breuer. While she was never a patient of Freud's, Freud and Breuer discussed her case extensively. The woman was experiencing symptoms of a condition that was then known as hysteria and found that talking about her problems helped relieve her symptoms. Her case played an important part in the development of talk therapy as an approach to mental health treatment.
  • Phineas Gage : Phineas Gage was a railroad employee who experienced a terrible accident in which an explosion sent a metal rod through his skull, damaging important portions of his brain. Gage recovered from his accident but was left with serious changes in both personality and behavior.
  • Genie : Genie was a young girl subjected to horrific abuse and isolation. The case study of Genie allowed researchers to study whether language could be taught even after critical periods for language development had been missed. Her case also served as an example of how scientific research may interfere with treatment and lead to further abuse of vulnerable individuals.

Such cases demonstrate how case research can be used to study things that researchers could not replicate in experimental settings. In Genie's case, her horrific abuse had denied her the opportunity to learn language at critical points in her development.

This is clearly not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but conducting a case study on Genie allowed researchers the chance to study phenomena that are otherwise impossible to reproduce.

There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers might utilize:

  • Collective case studies : These involve studying a group of individuals. Researchers might study a group of people in a certain setting or look at an entire community. For example, psychologists might explore how access to resources in a community has affected the collective mental well-being of those living there.
  • Descriptive case studies : These involve starting with a descriptive theory. The subjects are then observed, and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing theory.
  • Explanatory case studies : These   are often used to do causal investigations. In other words, researchers are interested in looking at factors that may have caused certain things to occur.
  • Exploratory case studies : These are sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to gather more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses .
  • Instrumental case studies : These occur when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than what is initially obvious to observers.
  • Intrinsic case studies : This type of case study is when the researcher has a personal interest in the case. Jean Piaget's observations of his own children are good examples of how an intrinsic cast study can contribute to the development of a psychological theory.

The three main case study types often used are intrinsic, instrumental, and collective. Intrinsic case studies are useful for learning about unique cases. Instrumental case studies help look at an individual to learn more about a broader issue. A collective case study can be useful for looking at several cases simultaneously.

The type of case study that psychology researchers utilize depends on the unique characteristics of the situation as well as the case itself.

There are also different methods that can be used to conduct a case study, including prospective and retrospective case study methods.

Prospective case study methods are those in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.

Retrospective case study methods involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work their way backward to look at information about the individual's life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.

Where to Find Data

There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. Six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:

  • Archival records : Census records, survey records, and name lists are examples of archival records.
  • Direct observation : This strategy involves observing the subject, often in a natural setting . While an individual observer is sometimes used, it is more common to utilize a group of observers.
  • Documents : Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc., are the types of documents often used as sources.
  • Interviews : Interviews are one of the most important methods for gathering information in case studies. An interview can involve structured survey questions or more open-ended questions.
  • Participant observation : When the researcher serves as a participant in events and observes the actions and outcomes, it is called participant observation.
  • Physical artifacts : Tools, objects, instruments, and other artifacts are often observed during a direct observation of the subject.

Section 1: A Case History

This section will have the following structure and content:

Background information : The first section of your paper will present your client's background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, family mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and weaknesses.

Description of the presenting problem : In the next section of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with.

Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to the symptoms should also be noted. Any screening or diagnostic assessments that are used should also be described in detail and all scores reported.

Your diagnosis : Provide your diagnosis and give the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the client's symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s), or any possible difficulties in reaching a diagnosis.

Section 2: Treatment Plan

This portion of the paper will address the chosen treatment for the condition. This might also include the theoretical basis for the chosen treatment or any other evidence that might exist to support why this approach was chosen.

  • Cognitive behavioral approach : Explain how a cognitive behavioral therapist would approach treatment. Offer background information on cognitive behavioral therapy and describe the treatment sessions, client response, and outcome of this type of treatment. Make note of any difficulties or successes encountered by your client during treatment.
  • Humanistic approach : Describe a humanistic approach that could be used to treat your client, such as client-centered therapy . Provide information on the type of treatment you chose, the client's reaction to the treatment, and the end result of this approach. Explain why the treatment was successful or unsuccessful.
  • Psychoanalytic approach : Describe how a psychoanalytic therapist would view the client's problem. Provide some background on the psychoanalytic approach and cite relevant references. Explain how psychoanalytic therapy would be used to treat the client, how the client would respond to therapy, and the effectiveness of this treatment approach.
  • Pharmacological approach : If treatment primarily involves the use of medications, explain which medications were used and why. Provide background on the effectiveness of these medications and how monotherapy may compare with an approach that combines medications with therapy or other treatments.

This section of a case study should also include information about the treatment goals, process, and outcomes.

When you are writing a case study, you should also include a section where you discuss the case study itself, including the strengths and limitiations of the study. You should note how the findings of your case study might support previous research. 

In your discussion section, you should also describe some of the implications of your case study. What ideas or findings might require further exploration? How might researchers go about exploring some of these questions in additional studies?

Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind when formatting your case study:

  • Never refer to the subject of your case study as "the client." Instead, their name or a pseudonym.
  • Read examples of case studies to gain an idea about the style and format.
  • Remember to use APA format when citing references .

A Word From Verywell

Case studies can be a useful research tool, but they need to be used wisely. In many cases, they are best utilized in situations where conducting an experiment would be difficult or impossible. They are helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a great deal of information about a specific individual or group of people.

If you have been directed to write a case study for a psychology course, be sure to check with your instructor for any specific guidelines that you are required to follow. If you are writing your case study for professional publication, be sure to check with the publisher for their specific guidelines for submitting a case study.

Simply Psychology. Case Study Method .

Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011 Jun 27;11:100. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-100

Gagnon, Yves-Chantal.  The Case Study as Research Method: A Practical Handbook . Canada, Chicago Review Press Incorporated DBA Independent Pub Group, 2010.

Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . United States, SAGE Publications, 2017.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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Case Study Research Writing Guidelines

case study research

Do you need to do a case study and write an essay based on your findings? Writing the academic paper is not as difficult as you think. Doing the case study research is the part you need to worry about, to be honest. Truth be told, doing case study research can take you days, if not weeks. Of course, the amount of time you spend researching greatly depends on the topic of your study.

Fortunately for high school and college students, we are here to shed some light on the case study assignment and on the research methodology. You will also find a quick guide towards the end of the blog post. It will help you write a case study research paper faster. Get a top grade on your next research case study with our help!

But What Is Case Study Research?

So, what is case study research? Case study research is exactly what its name suggests: the research you need to do to conduct the study. What is a case study, you ask? The case study is a research method in which the student analyzes a subject (it can be a person, a phenomenon, a trend, or even an animal) in real-life context. Simply put, the aim of your case study should be to analyze the subject as thoroughly as possible and then draw the appropriate conclusions.

Before you learn how to do case study research, you need to understand the differences between the various types of research. There are several methods you can use to gather data, each with its own applications. Let’s talk about the case study definition in research.

Main Types Of Case Study Research

The case study research methodology is important. It can make or break your study. Keep in mind that if you employ the wrong methods, the data you will gather will not be reliable. And don’t think that your professor won’t notice it. Teachers look at every case study research method you use to gather the evidence presented in your paper. Using the wrong method will get you a penalty – guaranteed. Here are the main types of case study research:

Explanatory case studies – this studies are primarily concerned with answering the “How” and “Why” questions. The researcher usually doesn’t have control over the subject or event. Your job is just to find out why and how something happened. Exploratory case studies – these case studies will answer the “What” and “Who” questions. The exploratory case study research methods include things like experiments, interviews, and even questionnaires in some cases. Descriptive case studies – these cases studies describe a sequence of events. Their main goal is to unearth the key phenomena at the heart of the issue being discussed. For example: “KFC Indonesia case study: the effects of multiculturalism on the marketing strategies.”

As you’ve probably heard, case study qualitative research is the best method for studying complex phenomena. It can even be used in health sciences to develop various theories and then develop the appropriate interventions. You won’t be using such complex methods in your high school or college case studies though.

Finding The Best Case Study Research Questions

Overall, the case study research design and methods are similar to methods used to write research papers or a custom thesis . First, you will need to figure out the perfect case study research design. After you have a rough idea of what your case study aims to achieve and you have a clear plan of action, it’s time to think about the questions. The truth is that nobody can give you a universal list of case study research questions. Why? Because the questions need to be tailored according to the goal of the study.

When creating the questions, you need to think how the answers will help you and your readers understand the phenomenon. In other words, you will word the questions according to the answers you need to write the paper. If you don’t know how to create excellent questions, you may need to get some case study research questions examples. These need to be custom-written for your study, of course.

In our opinion, the best way to get excellent questions is to get in touch with an academic writing company. Professional writers know exactly how to construct appropriate questions for any study you may think of. They have plenty of experience doing this, so you can expect to have an entire list of great questions in a matter of hours. You can even get an example of case study research that will be 100% original, written just for you.

Easy Way To Learn How To Do Case Study Research

Now that you know what is a case study research, it’s time to take a look at the simple steps you need to take in order to complete the study as fast as possible. Here is what you need to do, in order:

  • Find the topic of your case study. This is the phenomenon you wish to analyze. Again, it can be anything, including a person or an event.
  • You then need to define case study research methods. How will you analyze the phenomenon? Why is it relevant? What do you aim to learn?
  • Conduct the research and analyze the case thoroughly. Depending on the topic, you may need to conduct interviews or administer surveys. Gather all the data and organize it.
  • Start writing the case study. You will start with an introduction that presents the topic and your angle. Don’t forget to provide some background information about the topic so that your readers understand all the concepts.
  • Write the literature review section. You need to mention other studies that discuss the same topic, if any. Show your readers why they are incomplete or why there is a need to reinterpret their findings.
  • Write the methodology section. In this section, you will show your readers exactly which methods you used and why.
  • Write the discussion section. In this section, you will discuss the results of your research. It’s not enough to understand what is a case study in research. You also need to be able to analyze your findings and draw the most logical conclusions.
  • Write the conclusion section. This should be clear and concise and should summarize everything from the topic and methodology to the findings. Show your readers the significance of your research at the end of the conclusion paragraph.

On a final note, remember that the quality of your case study depends greatly on the value of the case study research. You need to make sure your research is spot-on; otherwise, you should consider getting some help from a professional writer.

Our writing service hires only the most top tier professionals to help out with any concerns and writing tasks you might have. They are knowledgeable and trustworthy, and can assist with anything, starting from proofreading, to doing data analysis for dissertation . Do not think twice about contacting us, as we are available 24/7 and to anyone in the world. Get in touch with our customer support team to get more details.

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Case Study in Research Integrity: This Application Feels Familiar

Imagine you are reviewing an application for an NIH study section meeting, and you come across an application that seems just a bit too familiar. The scientific question falls within your wheelhouse. The methods and strategies seem spot on. And isn’t that how you format your text? In this case study, we will discuss how plagiarism in the grant application process is handled at NIH and remind the research community about the importance of maintaining confidentiality of the peer review process. The scenario presented is based on real-world events, with all names and identifiers removed or changed.

Dr. ABC found themselves in this situation. While serving as a peer reviewer, they were assigned an application containing sections that looked very similar to their own application submitted several years prior. The current application identifies Dr. XYZ as the project’s lead, who also serves as principal investigator on other NIH awards. ABC immediately contacted the NIH Scientific Review Officer overseeing the study section to share their concerns.

The Scientific Review Officer asked the NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) to take a look and see if plagiarism may have occurred with XYZ’s application. Upon closer inspection, the text in the Procedures and Data Collection sections were found to be too similar to text from ABC’s applications to be coincidental.

Looking back at the roster from when ABC’s original application was reviewed, NIH staff identified a few long-term collaborators of XYZ’s. Those reviewers had had access to ABC’s application at that time. Maybe that was not a mere coincidence either. At this point, we referred the preliminary findings to the HHS Office of Research Integrity (ORI) , who have the authority and responsibility to review and monitor investigations of research misconduct allegations involving NIH funding. Though ORI had the lead, we still worked closely together with them. 

ORI reached out to XYZ’s institution next, as they were the applicant. With consent from ABC and their institution, ORI showed them the two applications along with the document-to-document comparison report.

XYZ’s institution then began their own internal research misconduct proceedings as part of the ORI review. They engaged with XYZ throughout the process to learn more. During those conversations, XYZ admitted to receiving ABC’s application from their collaborator, who served as a peer reviewer. XYZ also admitted to copying parts of that application into their own application.

The institution was in regular communication with OER too because the investigation involved a pending NIH application. When the institution’s investigation was complete, the institution informed us they made findings of research misconduct against Dr. XYZ, and also retracted their application. As a result, they prohibited XYZ from serving on NIH committees or being designated as principal investigator on applications for three years. They required XYZ to certify in writing that the ideas, results, and words were properly attributed in grant applications, and to develop and teach a seminar on research misconduct.

We are grateful to reviewers who raise any concerns about the integrity of the peer review process or applications with NIH Review staff. As explained more in the related required reviewer training , these concerns are taken seriously, especially when plagiarism or other forms of research misconduct are involved.

Importantly, we too will take actions based on the severity of the peer review violation (see NOT-OD-22-044 ). Separate from the steps that XYZ’s institution took, we removed XYZ from serving as a peer reviewer going forward. A committee of NIH grants management and program staff will also look at all of XYZ’s progress reports and other related grant submissions for the next three years. If no additional issues are found, then NIH will allow XYZ to again be designated on grant applications.

What about the collaborator?

We reached out to their institution as well. As part of that institution’s investigation, the collaborator admitted to accessing ABC’s application through their peer review service, retaining peer review materials after the review meeting ended, and sharing those materials with people unaffiliated with the study section. The institution fired the employee, and we removed them from review service.

We are grateful to those who serve in peer review. However, peer review service is a privilege, extended at NIH’s invitation. Those who undermine the confidentiality rules (such as keeping any relevant materials after the meeting is over) will not be invited to serve in NIH peer review again. These and other requirements are outlined in the confidentiality agreement that must be certified and signed before serving as a reviewer. Upholding these rules is critical for ensuring that researchers feel they can trust NIH with their candid, sensitive, and proprietary ideas. It is important to remind reviewers about the consequences when such a breach in integrity happens.

More case studies on research integrity may be found on our website .

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Writing A Case Study

Case Study Examples

Barbara P

Brilliant Case Study Examples and Templates For Your Help

15 min read

Published on: Jun 26, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Case Study Examples

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It’s no surprise that writing a case study is one of the most challenging academic tasks for students. You’re definitely not alone here!

Most people don't realize that there are specific guidelines to follow when writing a case study. If you don't know where to start, it's easy to get overwhelmed and give up before you even begin.

Don't worry! Let us help you out!

We've collected over 25 free case study examples with solutions just for you. These samples with solutions will help you win over your panel and score high marks on your case studies.

So, what are you waiting for? Let's dive in and learn the secrets to writing a successful case study.

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What is a Case Study?

A case study is a research method used to study a particular individual, group, or situation in depth. It involves analyzing and interpreting data from a variety of sources to gain insight into the subject being studied. 

Case studies are often used in psychology, business, and education to explore complicated problems and find solutions. They usually have detailed descriptions of the subject, background info, and an analysis of the main issues.

The goal of a case study is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Typically, case studies can be divided into three parts, challenges, solutions, and results. 

Here is a case study sample PDF so you can have a clearer understanding of what a case study actually is:

Case Study Sample PDF

How to Write a Case Study Examples

Learn how to write a case study with the help of our comprehensive case study guide.

Case Study Examples for Students

Quite often, students are asked to present case studies in their academic journeys. The reason instructors assign case studies is for students to sharpen their critical analysis skills, understand how companies make profits, etc.

Below are some case study examples in research, suitable for students:

Case Study Example in Software Engineering

Qualitative Research Case Study Sample

Software Quality Assurance Case Study

Social Work Case Study Example

Ethical Case Study

Case Study Example PDF

These examples can guide you on how to structure and format your own case studies.

Struggling with formatting your case study? Check this case study format guide and perfect your document’s structure today.

Business Case Study Examples

A business case study examines a business’s specific challenge or goal and how it should be solved. Business case studies usually focus on several details related to the initial challenge and proposed solution. 

To help you out, here are some samples so you can create case studies that are related to businesses: 

Here are some more business case study examples:

Business Case Studies PDF

Business Case Studies Example

Typically, a business case study discovers one of your customer's stories and how you solved a problem for them. It allows your prospects to see how your solutions address their needs. 

Medical Case Study Examples

Medical case studies are an essential part of medical education. They help students to understand how to diagnose and treat patients. 

Here are some medical case study examples to help you.

Medical Case Study Example

Nursing Case Study Example

Want to understand the various types of case studies? Check out our types of case study blog to select the perfect type.

Psychology Case Study Examples 

Case studies are a great way of investigating individuals with psychological abnormalities. This is why it is a very common assignment in psychology courses. 

By examining all the aspects of your subject’s life, you discover the possible causes of exhibiting such behavior. 

For your help, here are some interesting psychology case study examples:

Psychology Case Study Example

Mental Health Case Study Example

Sales Case Study Examples

Case studies are important tools for sales teams’ performance improvement. By examining sales successes, teams can gain insights into effective strategies and create action plans to employ similar tactics.

By researching case studies of successful sales campaigns, sales teams can more accurately identify challenges and develop solutions.

Sales Case Study Example

Interview Case Study Examples

Interview case studies provide businesses with invaluable information. This data allows them to make informed decisions related to certain markets or subjects.

Interview Case Study Example

Marketing Case Study Examples

Marketing case studies are real-life stories that showcase how a business solves a problem. They typically discuss how a business achieves a goal using a specific marketing strategy or tactic.

They typically describe a challenge faced by a business, the solution implemented, and the results achieved.

This is a short sample marketing case study for you to get an idea of what an actual marketing case study looks like.

 Here are some more popular marketing studies that show how companies use case studies as a means of marketing and promotion:

“Chevrolet Discover the Unexpected” by Carol H. Williams

This case study explores Chevrolet's “ DTU Journalism Fellows ” program. The case study uses the initials “DTU” to generate interest and encourage readers to learn more. 

Multiple types of media, such as images and videos, are used to explain the challenges faced. The case study concludes with an overview of the achievements that were met.

Key points from the case study include:

  • Using a well-known brand name in the title can create interest.
  • Combining different media types, such as headings, images, and videos, can help engage readers and make the content more memorable.
  • Providing a summary of the key achievements at the end of the case study can help readers better understand the project's impact.

“The Met” by Fantasy

“ The Met ” by Fantasy is a fictional redesign of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, created by the design studio Fantasy. The case study clearly and simply showcases the museum's website redesign.

The Met emphasizes the website’s features and interface by showcasing each section of the interface individually, allowing the readers to concentrate on the significant elements.

For those who prefer text, each feature includes an objective description. The case study also includes a “Contact Us” call-to-action at the bottom of the page, inviting visitors to contact the company.

Key points from this “The Met” include:

  • Keeping the case study simple and clean can help readers focus on the most important aspects.
  • Presenting the features and solutions with a visual showcase can be more effective than writing a lot of text.
  • Including a clear call-to-action at the end of the case study can encourage visitors to contact the company for more information.

“Better Experiences for All” by Herman Miller

Herman Miller's minimalist approach to furniture design translates to their case study, “ Better Experiences for All ”, for a Dubai hospital. The page features a captivating video with closed-captioning and expandable text for accessibility.

The case study presents a wealth of information in a concise format, enabling users to grasp the complexities of the strategy with ease. It concludes with a client testimonial and a list of furniture items purchased from the brand.

Key points from the “Better Experiences” include:

  • Make sure your case study is user-friendly by including accessibility features like closed captioning and expandable text.
  • Include a list of products that were used in the project to guide potential customers.

“NetApp” by Evisort 

Evisort's case study on “ NetApp ” stands out for its informative and compelling approach. The study begins with a client-centric overview of NetApp, strategically directing attention to the client rather than the company or team involved.

The case study incorporates client quotes and explores NetApp’s challenges during COVID-19. Evisort showcases its value as a client partner by showing how its services supported NetApp through difficult times. 

  • Provide an overview of the company in the client’s words, and put focus on the customer. 
  • Highlight how your services can help clients during challenging times.
  • Make your case study accessible by providing it in various formats.

“Red Sox Season Campaign,” by CTP Boston

The “ Red Sox Season Campaign ” showcases a perfect blend of different media, such as video, text, and images. Upon visiting the page, the video plays automatically, there are videos of Red Sox players, their images, and print ads that can be enlarged with a click.

The page features an intuitive design and invites viewers to appreciate CTP's well-rounded campaign for Boston's beloved baseball team. There’s also a CTA that prompts viewers to learn how CTP can create a similar campaign for their brand.

Some key points to take away from the “Red Sox Season Campaign”: 

  • Including a variety of media such as video, images, and text can make your case study more engaging and compelling.
  • Include a call-to-action at the end of your study that encourages viewers to take the next step towards becoming a customer or prospect.

“Airbnb + Zendesk” by Zendesk

The case study by Zendesk, titled “ Airbnb + Zendesk : Building a powerful solution together,” showcases a true partnership between Airbnb and Zendesk. 

The article begins with an intriguing opening statement, “Halfway around the globe is a place to stay with your name on it. At least for a weekend,” and uses stunning images of beautiful Airbnb locations to captivate readers.

Instead of solely highlighting Zendesk's product, the case study is crafted to tell a good story and highlight Airbnb's service in detail. This strategy makes the case study more authentic and relatable.

Some key points to take away from this case study are:

  • Use client's offerings' images rather than just screenshots of your own product or service.
  • To begin the case study, it is recommended to include a distinct CTA. For instance, Zendesk presents two alternatives, namely to initiate a trial or seek a solution.

“Influencer Marketing” by Trend and WarbyParker

The case study "Influencer Marketing" by Trend and Warby Parker highlights the potential of influencer content marketing, even when working with a limited budget. 

The “Wearing Warby” campaign involved influencers wearing Warby Parker glasses during their daily activities, providing a glimpse of the brand's products in use. 

This strategy enhanced the brand's relatability with influencers' followers. While not detailing specific tactics, the case study effectively illustrates the impact of third-person case studies in showcasing campaign results.

Key points to take away from this case study are:

  • Influencer marketing can be effective even with a limited budget.
  • Showcasing products being used in everyday life can make a brand more approachable and relatable.
  • Third-person case studies can be useful in highlighting the success of a campaign.

Marketing Case Study Example

Marketing Case Study Template

Now that you have read multiple case study examples, hop on to our tips.

Tips to Write a Good Case Study

Here are some note-worthy tips to craft a winning case study 

  • Define the purpose of the case study This will help you to focus on the most important aspects of the case. The case study objective helps to ensure that your finished product is concise and to the point.
  • Choose a real-life example. One of the best ways to write a successful case study is to choose a real-life example. This will give your readers a chance to see how the concepts apply in a real-world setting.
  • Keep it brief. This means that you should only include information that is directly relevant to your topic and avoid adding unnecessary details.
  • Use strong evidence. To make your case study convincing, you will need to use strong evidence. This can include statistics, data from research studies, or quotes from experts in the field.
  • Edit and proofread your work. Before you submit your case study, be sure to edit and proofread your work carefully. This will help to ensure that there are no errors and that your paper is clear and concise.

There you go!

We’re sure that now you have secrets to writing a great case study at your fingertips! This blog teaches the key guidelines of various case studies with samples. So grab your pen and start crafting a winning case study right away!

Having said that, we do understand that some of you might be having a hard time writing compelling case studies.

But worry not! Our expert case study writing service is here to take all your case-writing blues away! 

With 100% thorough research guaranteed, our professional essay writing service can craft an amazing case study within 6 hours! 

So why delay? Let us help you shine in the eyes of your instructor!

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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Dameff C , Tully J , Chan TC, et al. Ransomware Attack Associated With Disruptions at Adjacent Emergency Departments in the US. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(5):e2312270. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.12270

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Ransomware Attack Associated With Disruptions at Adjacent Emergency Departments in the US

  • 1 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego
  • 2 Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of California, San Diego
  • 3 Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of California, San Diego
  • 4 Department of Anesthesiology, University of California, San Diego
  • 5 Office of the University of California, San Diego Health Chief Executive Officer, University of California, San Diego
  • 6 Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego

Question   What are the associated regional health care disruptions in hospitals adjacent to health care systems under ransomware cyberattack?

Findings   This cohort study of 2 academic urban emergency departments (EDs) adjacent to a health care delivery organization under a month-long ransomware attack evaluated 19 857 ED visits at the unaffected ED: 6114 in the preattack phase, 7039 in the attack and recovery phase, and 6704 in the postattack phase. During the attack and postattack phases, significant increases in patient census, ambulance arrivals, waiting room times, patients left without being seen, total patient length of stay, county-wide emergency medical services diversion, and acute stroke care metrics were seen in the unaffected ED.

Meaning   This study suggests that health care cyberattacks such as ransomware are associated with greater disruptions to regional hospitals and should be treated as disasters, necessitating coordinated planning and response efforts.

Importance   Cyberattacks on health care delivery organizations are increasing in frequency and sophistication. Ransomware infections have been associated with significant operational disruption, but data describing regional associations of these cyberattacks with neighboring hospitals have not been previously reported, to our knowledge.

Objective   To examine an institution’s emergency department (ED) patient volume and stroke care metrics during a month-long ransomware attack on a geographically proximal but separate health care delivery organization.

Design, Setting, and Participants   This before and after cohort study compares adult and pediatric patient volume and stroke care metrics of 2 US urban academic EDs in the 4 weeks prior to the ransomware attack on May 1, 2021 (April 3-30, 2021), as well as during the attack and recovery (May 1-28, 2021) and 4 weeks after the attack and recovery (May 29 to June 25, 2021). The 2 EDs had a combined mean annual census of more than 70 000 care encounters and 11% of San Diego County’s total acute inpatient discharges. The health care delivery organization targeted by the ransomware constitutes approximately 25% of the regional inpatient discharges.

Exposure   A month-long ransomware cyberattack on 4 adjacent hospitals.

Main Outcomes and Measures   Emergency department encounter volumes (census), temporal throughput, regional diversion of emergency medical services (EMS), and stroke care metrics.

Results   This study evaluated 19 857 ED visits at the unaffected ED: 6114 (mean [SD] age, 49.6 [19.3] years; 2931 [47.9%] female patients; 1663 [27.2%] Hispanic, 677 [11.1%] non-Hispanic Black, and 2678 [43.8%] non-Hispanic White patients) in the preattack phase, 7039 (mean [SD] age, 49.8 [19.5] years; 3377 [48.0%] female patients; 1840 [26.1%] Hispanic, 778 [11.1%] non-Hispanic Black, and 3168 [45.0%] non-Hispanic White patients) in the attack and recovery phase, and 6704 (mean [SD] age, 48.8 [19.6] years; 3326 [49.5%] female patients; 1753 [26.1%] Hispanic, 725 [10.8%] non-Hispanic Black, and 3012 [44.9%] non-Hispanic White patients) in the postattack phase. Compared with the preattack phase, during the attack phase, there were significant associated increases in the daily mean (SD) ED census (218.4 [18.9] vs 251.4 [35.2]; P  < .001), EMS arrivals (1741 [28.8] vs 2354 [33.7]; P  < .001), admissions (1614 [26.4] vs 1722 [24.5]; P  = .01), patients leaving without being seen (158 [2.6] vs 360 [5.1]; P  < .001), and patients leaving against medical advice (107 [1.8] vs 161 [2.3]; P  = .03). There were also significant associated increases during the attack phase compared with the preattack phase in median waiting room times (21 minutes [IQR, 7-62 minutes] vs 31 minutes [IQR, 9-89 minutes]; P  < .001) and total ED length of stay for admitted patients (614 minutes [IQR, 424-1093 minutes] vs 822 minutes [IQR, 497-1524 minutes]; P  < .001). There was also a significant increase in stroke code activations during the attack phase compared with the preattack phase (59 vs 102; P  = .01) as well as confirmed strokes (22 vs 47; P  = .02).

Conclusions and Relevance   This study found that hospitals adjacent to health care delivery organizations affected by ransomware attacks may see increases in patient census and may experience resource constraints affecting time-sensitive care for conditions such as acute stroke. These findings suggest that targeted hospital cyberattacks may be associated with disruptions of health care delivery at nontargeted hospitals within a community and should be considered a regional disaster.

Health care delivery organizations (HDOs) are increasingly dependent on internet-connected computer networks and medical devices for enterprise workflows and patient care. Protected health information and financial data render HDOs attractive targets for cybersecurity attacks, the consequences of which have been previously described. 1 - 3 Although cyberattacks on HDOs continue to increase in frequency 4 - 6 and the financial and operational effects of such incidents are documented, 7 the literature is largely bereft of data demonstrating an adverse effect on patient care workflows or care outcomes.

A growing proportion of cyberattacks on HDOs use ransomware, a subset of malicious software known as malware. 8 Ransomware programs are designed to infect a network and render the data and functionality contained within that system inaccessible until a monetary ransom is paid. The potential for significant ransomware-induced operational disruption was demonstrated by the WannaCry virus, which in 2017 infected more than 80 hospitals in the UK’s National Health Service, resulting in ambulance diversions, canceled surgical procedures, and delayed oncology care. 9 - 11

Despite improved awareness 12 and an increasing focus on enterprise cybersecurity, 13 the incidence of ransomware attacks on HDOs has markedly increased over the past decade. 14 During the COVID-19 pandemic, serious ransomware infections loaded additional stress on HDOs, with 1 attack in September 2020 affecting more than 200 affiliated facilities across the US, demonstrating the rapid spread and disregard for geography that can arise after a single intrusion. 15 Attacks focusing specifically on institutions working on the development and testing of a vaccine have drawn increased concern from law enforcement and national security agencies. 16 , 17

The financial effect of ransomware attacks extends beyond the initial ransom, which may itself cost millions of dollars. 4 Prolonged disability of critical hospital infrastructure can result in more severe losses, with the September 2020 attack previously mentioned resulting in a cost of $67 million to the affected health system. 18 To our knowledge, the only ransomware patient outcomes data published in the literature are in a retrospective impact analysis by Ghafur and colleagues 19 of the WannaCry attack; the analysis did not find a difference in mortality between the baseline of the National Health Service facilities and the week of the attack, despite decreases in admissions and emergency department (ED) visits, although the attack was halted after less than 24 hours and the subsequent technical recovery was relatively rapid. To our knowledge, data from a ransomware attack resulting in a prolonged disruption have not been reported.

On the evening of May 1, 2021, an HDO with 4 acute care hospitals with more than 1300 combined acute inpatient beds and 19 outpatient facilities was infected with ransomware. According to local media reports, this attack resulted in acute loss of the electronic health records, imaging systems, and telemedicine capabilities. 20 Clinicians reverted to manual processes, including the use of paper medical records, while emergency ambulance traffic was diverted to unaffected facilities. 21 Records of nearly 150 000 patients were compromised as a result of the breach, 22 and operational disruptions persisted for 4 weeks after the attack was first detected. 23

We report on the operational and patient volume data at an adjacent, uninfected HDO during the period of this attack. We also report on the regional emergency medical services (EMS) diversion data and ED stroke care metrics. We examine the association of the disruption incurred by the infected HDOs with operational disruptions at other hospitals in the same regional health care ecosystem.

This study and participant informed consent were deemed exempt from institutional review board review by the University of California, San Diego, institutional review board because patient identifiers were not collected. This study conforms to the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology ( STROBE ) reporting guideline. 24

This was a retrospective before and after cohort study comparing ED metrics of 2 EDs in proximity to the HDO under attack. Data were collected for the 4 weeks prior to the attack (weeks 1-4: April 3-30, 2021), during the attack and recovery (weeks 5-8: May 1-28), and 4 weeks after full operational restoration (weeks 9-12: May 29 to June 25).

San Diego County has 4 large health care systems (HDO A, B, C, and D), which account for approximately 73% of the inpatient discharges in the region. The characteristics of these systems are presented in the eTable in Supplement 1 . The remainder of the market share is distributed among 2 smaller HDOs and a large regional children’s hospital. 25

All 4 hospitals (comprising acute care facilities for HDO A) infected with ransomware were located in San Diego County, and when combined, they represent approximately 25% of all acute inpatient discharges for the region. 25 Three hospitals are designated stroke receiving centers, and 1 hospital is a comprehensive stroke and level 1 trauma center. 26

This study reports data from HDO B, which operates 2 large hospitals with a combined 11% regional inpatient discharge rate. Both hospitals are designated stroke receiving centers, and one is a level 1 trauma center. Both hospitals have EDs with a combined yearly census of more than 70 000 patients.

The 2 remaining HDOs (C and D) maintain 6 hospitals accounting for 37% of the region’s inpatient discharges. Two hospitals are comprehensive stroke centers, and 4 are primary stroke receiving centers.

Adult and pediatric patients presenting to the regional (HDO B) EDs during the study period were included and combined in this analysis. Census is defined as the total number of patient visits to the ED. Patients who presented multiple times to the ED during the study period had each encounter counted as a distinct visit in the ED census. Patients who left before triage or were immediately sent to another department (trauma, labor and delivery, or burn) before emergency physician evaluation were excluded. Patient demographic characteristics (eg, age, sex, and race and ethnicity [non-Hispanic White, Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander, other, multiracial, or unknown]) were extracted from the electronic health records and were defined by the patients themselves. Emergency medical services ambulance census was defined as any basic or advanced life support ambulance patient arrival to the ED (EMS arrival).

Hospital admissions were defined as any ED patient being placed in either observation or admission status to any hospital service (eg, medicine, surgery, or psychiatry). Patients placed in ED observation were not included unless they were later admitted to a hospital service. Patients who left without being seen were defined as those who had completed nurse triage but had not yet been seen by an ED clinician (intern, resident, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or attending physician). Patients who left against medical advice were defined as those electing to depart against the recommendations of the attending physician after evaluation. Eloped patients were defined as any patient who could not be located after being placed in a treatment area after nurse triage and clinician evaluation.

Emergency department revisits were defined as any patient presenting during the study period who returned for a subsequent ED encounter within 7 days from their prior ED discharge or transfer to an outside facility. Patients presenting to either HDO B site constituted an ED revisit. Patients transferred between EDs were not characterized as revisits. Emergency department readmissions were defined as any ED patient readmitted to any service within 30 days from their last hospital discharge. Emergency department revisits and readmissions were attributed to the original presentation date even if the subsequent visit or readmission occurred during a different attack phase (eg, patient was seen during week 4 but revisited during week 5).

Length of stay (LOS) was defined as the total time in minutes from patient arrival to their physical departure from the ED (admitted or discharged). Door-to-room time was defined as the time from ED arrival to placement in an ED treatment area and approximates “waiting room times.”

The county of San Diego EMS, a division of San Diego County Fire, records and sums on a daily basis the cumulative number of minutes that each hospital in San Diego County is on ED EMS diversion. Diversion is a temporary elective designation an individual hospital may trigger to redirect ambulance traffic away from their ED to another. At the time of the attack, diversion status necessity was reevaluated every 2 hours. Hospitals can also go on diversion during declared internal disasters, which HDO B initiated during the start of the ransomware attack, which did not require bihourly reevaluation.

Emergency department stroke codes are defined as those activated in the ED by emergency physicians or by paramedics in the field, and they can include confirmed or suspected strokes. Emergency department stroke codes use the internal paging system for notification and are documented in the electronic health records as an order and are recorded in a flow sheet. Stroke was defined as any ED patient discharged with a diagnosis of ischemic stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, or transient ischemic attack per International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision codes as defined by the American Heart Association Get With the Guidelines program. 27  Receipt of acute stroke treatment was defined as any patient receiving thrombolytics, such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or endovascular treatment. Door–to–computed tomography (CT) scanner time was defined as the time from ED presentation to CT scan completion in minutes. Door-to-tPA time was defined as the time from ED presentation to initiation of tPA infusion for stroke codes in minutes. Door-to-groin puncture time was defined as the time from ED presentation to confirmed procedural vascular access for endovascular treatment. Cases were identified through our institution’s internal stroke registry.

Census, recurrence, throughput, and stroke data were extracted from the electronic health records using structured query language using the Clarity database (Epic). Diversion data were provided by San Diego County EMS as part of routine internal data collection efforts. Extracted data were stored on an internal secured server.

Data were grouped into the 3 study periods. Descriptive analysis for demographic characteristics and census, recurrence, throughput, and performance measures were conducted for each group. Mean (SD) values or median (IQR) values are reported for continuous data as appropriate, and frequencies and percentages are reported for categorical data. Comparisons are presented overall and between each group when significant. For the overall comparisons, a 1-way analysis of variance was performed for continuous normally distributed data, and the Kruskal-Wallis test was performed for nonparametric data. Comparisons between groups of significant measures were completed using the t test or the Mann-Whitney test as appropriate. The χ 2 test was used for all categorical data. All P values were from 2-sided tests and results were deemed statistically significant at P  < .05. Because this cohort study has an observational study design assessing plausible associations with measures between groups, a P value correction was not used. Rather, because these comparisons were performed to identify differences in each measure over the 3 phases, the importance of these differences was also interpreted based on their association with clinical operations. A brief assessment of the association of a correction with clinical operations resulted in a minimal association with the interpretation of data. Statistical analysis was performed using IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, version 27 (IBM Corp).

During the study period, we evaluated 19 857 ED visits: 6114 (mean [SD] age, 49.6 [19.3] years; 2931 [47.9%] female patients; 1663 [27.2%] Hispanic, 677 [11.1%] non-Hispanic Black, and 2678 [43.8%] non-Hispanic White patients) in the preattack phase, 7039 (mean [SD] age, 49.8 [19.5] years; 3377 [48.0%] female patients; 1840 [26.1%] Hispanic, 778 [11.1%] non-Hispanic Black, and 3168 [45.0%] non-Hispanic White patients) in the attack and recovery phase, and 6704 (mean [SD] age, 48.8 [19.6] years; 3326 [49.5%] female patients; 1753 [26.1%] Hispanic, 725 [10.8%] non-Hispanic Black, and 3012 [44.9%] non-Hispanic White patients) in the postattack phase. Patient demographic characteristics, including age, sex, and race and ethnicity, were similar between attack phase groups and are presented in Table 1 .

Combined HDO B ED census and disposition metrics for the 3 study periods are presented in Table 2 and Figure 1 . There was a significant increase in mean (SD) daily ED volume (ie, census) when comparing the preattack (218.4 [18.9]), attack (251.4 [35.2]), and postattack phases (239.4 [21.3]) ( P  < .001). There was a significant increase in mean (SD) EMS arrivals comparing the preattack with the attack phase (1741 [28.8] vs 2354 [33.7]; P  < .001). There was no significant difference in EMS arrivals between the preattack and postattack phases (1741 [28.8] vs 1920 [28.9]; P  = .90). The mean (SD) numbers of admissions were also significantly increased between the preattack and attack phases (1614 [26.4] vs 1722 [24.5]; P  = .01, but they were not significant between the attack and postattack phases (1722 [24.5] vs 1648 [24.6]; P  = .87). There were significant differences in the mean (SD) number of patients who left without being seen among all phases: preattack (158 [2.6]), attack (360 [5.1]), and postattack (260 [3.9]) ( P  < .001). For patients who left against medical advice, there was a significant difference between the preattack and attack phases (mean [SD], 107 [1.8] vs 161 [2.3]; P  = .03) and no significant difference between the attack and postattack phases (161 [2.3] vs 101 [1.5]; P  = .28). There were no significant differences among ED visits in which patients eloped, revisited within 7 days, or were readmitted within 30 days of their ED visit.

Combined HDO B ED throughput metrics for the 4 weeks before, during, and after the cyberattack are presented in Table 2 . The median ED door-to-room time (waiting room times) for the 4 weeks prior to the attack was 21 minutes (IQR, 7-62 minutes), 31 minutes (IQR, 9-89 minutes) during the 4 weeks of the attack, and 23 minutes (IQR, 8-66 minutes) for the 4 weeks after the attack. The median total LOS for admitted patients was 614 minutes (IQR, 424-1093 minutes) prior to the attack, which increased to 822 minutes (IQR, 497-1524 minutes) during the attack and decreased to 680 minutes (IQR, 452-1271 minutes) after the attack. The median total LOS for discharged patients was 290 minutes (IQR, 198-421 minutes) prior to the attack, 307 minutes (IQR, 203-453 minutes) during the attack, and 298 minutes (IQR, 201-432 minutes) after the attack. There were significant differences in all throughput metrics when compared at each phase ( P  < .001).

San Diego County EMS reported on diversion of ambulance traffic to HDO B. They experienced a median of 27 cumulative hours (IQR, 18-32 hours) of diversion per day in the 4 weeks prior to the attack, 47 cumulative hours (IQR, 22-67 hours) per day during the 4 weeks of the attack, and 31 cumulative hours (IQR, 22-41 hours) per day of diversion in the 4 weeks after ( Figure 2 ).

Combined HDO B ED stroke metrics are presented in Table 3 . There was a significant increase in ED stroke code activations in the preattack phase (59), during the attack phase (103), and the postattack phase (65) ( P  = .009). There was also a significant increase in the number of confirmed strokes diagnosed when comparing the preattack phase (22), attack phase (47), and postattack phase (28) ( P  = .02). We saw increases in stroke code alerts, stroke diagnoses, and acute treatments with tPA and endovascular treatments during the cyberattack and recovery. The increased stroke alerts were not correlated with longer times to stroke imaging (CT scan), tPA administration, or time to groin puncture for endovascular treatment.

In this study, when comparing the preattack period with the attack period, there was an associated 15.1% increase in daily mean (SD) ED volume (ie, census) (from 218.4 [18.9] to 251.4 [35.2]), a 35.2% increase in mean (SD) ambulance arrivals (from 1741 [28.8] to 2354 [33.7]), a 6.7% increase in mean (SD) admissions (from 1614 [26.4] to 1722 [24.5]), a 127.8% increase in visits where patients left without being seen (from 158 [2.6] to 360 [5.1]), a 50.4% increase in visits where patients left against medical advice (from 107 [1.8] to 161 [2.3]), a 47.6% increase in median waiting room times (from 21 minutes [IQR, 7-62 minutes] to 31 minutes [IQR, 9-89 minutes]), a 33.9% increase in median total LOS for admitted patients (from 614 minutes [IQR, 424-1093 minutes] to 822 minutes [IQR, 497-1524 minutes]), and a 5.9% increase in median total LOS for discharged patients (from 290 minutes [IQR, 198-421 minutes] to 307 minutes [IQR, 203-453 minutes]) at 2 normally functioning health care facilities adjacent to 4 hospitals under ransomware attack. In the postattack phase, only EMS arrivals, patients who left against medical advice, ED stroke code activations, and confirmed strokes returned to preattack rates. Anecdotal reports from clinicians stated that the associated disruptions of the cyberattack were most pronounced during the first 2 weeks of the attack and likely the result of early chaos when no mitigations existed yet for hospitals to develop ad hoc workarounds. In the greater San Diego County area, a 74.1% increase in median total daily ED diversion time (hours) was observed when comparing the preattack period with the attack period (from 27 cumulative hours [IQR, 18-32 hours] to 47 cumulative hours [IQR, 22-67 hours]), likely associated with the increase in census and EMS arrivals at HDO B.

Acute stroke care is an example of a time-sensitive, resource-intensive, technologically dependent, and potentially lifesaving set of complex actions and decisions requiring a readily available multidisciplinary team working in close coordination. Several of the hospitals targeted by the ransomware attack are stroke centers, necessitating the transport of these high-acuity patients to a reduced number of functioning stroke centers in the region. This study showed, at HDO B, an associated 74.6% increase in stroke code activations (from 59 to 103) and 113.6% increase in confirmed strokes (from 22 to 47) from the preattack phase to the attack phase. There was no significant difference in door–to–CT scan or acute stroke treatment times. Indirect impediments to care have been associated with patient outcomes in the setting of other time-sensitive conditions, including acute myocardial infarction or cardiac arrest. 28 It may be reasonable to consider the impact of cybersecurity disruption within such an outcomes-oriented context.

Ransomware attacks on hospital systems have previously been reported to be costly and disabling 21 ; however, data about regional disruptions at neighboring hospitals, to our knowledge, have not been previously reported. Increases in health care cybersecurity incidents suggest the need for coordinated regional surge planning similar to that conducted for natural disasters. 29 Interdisciplinary teams of technologists and clinicians are needed to address the unique challenges of cybersecurity incidents, including ransomware. 30 - 32 These include difficulty predicting which facilities are at highest risk due to a lack of geographic association and institutional precedent, rapid spread across large distances within a hospital network affecting multiple facilities simultaneously, and protracted operational downtimes approaching weeks to months.

Hospital systems infected with ransomware can likely reduce regional effects by developing cyberattack-specific emergency operations plans to minimize recovery times in addition to engaging regional partners to proactively plan for and drill for cyberattacks. Real-time information sharing on cyber threat actors and methods can reduce the risk of spread among HDOs. Risks to specific patient populations, such as those with trauma, stroke, or myocardial infarction, should be anticipated, and measures to rapidly facilitate transfers among hospitals should be prioritized. Prolonged regional effects may necessitate consideration of reducing elective surgical cases and other extraordinary measures.

Increasing cyberattack prevention efforts and operational resiliency across all health care systems should be a high national priority. 33 - 35 Further study on the association of cyberattacks with patient safety and quality of care is needed, although significant barriers to data collection and reporting remain given the reliance on affected electronic adverse event monitoring systems and HDO legal liability concerns. 36 - 38

There are several limitations to this study, including its observational, descriptive design with no defined sample size, precluding true hypothesis testing; a relatively low incidence of stroke; regional concentration of hospitals affected by cyberattacks potentially magnifying the “spillover” effects; limited focus on emergency care, potentially missing data on the effects on outpatient and other inpatient services; and limited generalizability to outside HDOs, given large variations in geographic hospital distribution. Confounding effects, including variations in infectious diseases or trauma burden or seasonality, may be responsible for changes in ED metrics independent of the cybersecurity incident. In addition, because we did not have access to data from HDOs C and D, we were unable to examine whether similar findings occurred within those systems.

This cohort study found an associated increase in ED volume (ie, census), EMS arrivals, patients who left without being seen, waiting room times, total ED LOS for admitted patients, county-wide ED diversion time, stroke code activations, and confirmed strokes at 2 hospitals near an adjacent health care organization under a month-long ransomware attack. These findings support the need for coordinated regional cyber disaster planning, further study on the potential patient care effects of cyberattacks, and continued work to build technical health care systems resilient to cyberattacks such as ransomware.

Accepted for Publication: March 26, 2023.

Published: May 8, 2023. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.12270

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License . © 2023 Dameff C et al. JAMA Network Open .

Corresponding Author: Christian Dameff, MD, MS, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego, 200 W Arbor Dr, 8676, San Diego, CA 92103 ( [email protected] ).

Author Contributions: Dr Dameff had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Dameff, Tully, Chan, Savage, Maysent, Clay, Longhurst.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Dameff, Tully, Castillo, Savage, Hemmen, Longhurst.

Drafting of the manuscript: Dameff, Tully, Clay, Longhurst.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Castillo.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Dameff, Tully, Chan, Maysent, Hemmen, Clay, Longhurst.

Supervision: Chan, Savage, Maysent, Clay, Longhurst.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Funding/Support: Dr Dameff is supported by Career Development Award 1-K08-EB032477 from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funding source had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Data Sharing Statement: See Supplement 2 .

Additional Contributions: The authors would like to thank the San Diego County Emergency Medical Services Office for diversion data. We would like to thank Jesse Brennan, MA, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of California, San Diego, for assistance with data aggregation. These parties had no editorial input nor received any compensation for their data collection efforts.

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Regions & Countries

About 1 in 5 u.s. teens who’ve heard of chatgpt have used it for schoolwork.

(Maskot/Getty Images)

Roughly one-in-five teenagers who have heard of ChatGPT say they have used it to help them do their schoolwork, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17. With a majority of teens having heard of ChatGPT, that amounts to 13% of all U.S. teens who have used the generative artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot in their schoolwork.

A bar chart showing that, among teens who know of ChatGPT, 19% say they’ve used it for schoolwork.

Teens in higher grade levels are particularly likely to have used the chatbot to help them with schoolwork. About one-quarter of 11th and 12th graders who have heard of ChatGPT say they have done this. This share drops to 17% among 9th and 10th graders and 12% among 7th and 8th graders.

There is no significant difference between teen boys and girls who have used ChatGPT in this way.

The introduction of ChatGPT last year has led to much discussion about its role in schools , especially whether schools should integrate the new technology into the classroom or ban it .

Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to understand American teens’ use and understanding of ChatGPT in the school setting.

The Center conducted an online survey of 1,453 U.S. teens from Sept. 26 to Oct. 23, 2023, via Ipsos. Ipsos recruited the teens via their parents, who were part of its KnowledgePanel . The KnowledgePanel is a probability-based web panel recruited primarily through national, random sampling of residential addresses. The survey was weighted to be representative of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 who live with their parents by age, gender, race and ethnicity, household income, and other categories.

This research was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, an independent committee of experts specializing in helping to protect the rights of research participants.

Here are the  questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and its  methodology .

Teens’ awareness of ChatGPT

Overall, two-thirds of U.S. teens say they have heard of ChatGPT, including 23% who have heard a lot about it. But awareness varies by race and ethnicity, as well as by household income:

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that most teens have heard of ChatGPT, but awareness varies by race and ethnicity, household income.

  • 72% of White teens say they’ve heard at least a little about ChatGPT, compared with 63% of Hispanic teens and 56% of Black teens.
  • 75% of teens living in households that make $75,000 or more annually have heard of ChatGPT. Much smaller shares in households with incomes between $30,000 and $74,999 (58%) and less than $30,000 (41%) say the same.

Teens who are more aware of ChatGPT are more likely to use it for schoolwork. Roughly a third of teens who have heard a lot about ChatGPT (36%) have used it for schoolwork, far higher than the 10% among those who have heard a little about it.

When do teens think it’s OK for students to use ChatGPT?

For teens, whether it is – or is not – acceptable for students to use ChatGPT depends on what it is being used for.

There is a fair amount of support for using the chatbot to explore a topic. Roughly seven-in-ten teens who have heard of ChatGPT say it’s acceptable to use when they are researching something new, while 13% say it is not acceptable.

A diverging bar chart showing that many teens say it’s acceptable to use ChatGPT for research; few say it’s OK to use it for writing essays.

However, there is much less support for using ChatGPT to do the work itself. Just one-in-five teens who have heard of ChatGPT say it’s acceptable to use it to write essays, while 57% say it is not acceptable. And 39% say it’s acceptable to use ChatGPT to solve math problems, while a similar share of teens (36%) say it’s not acceptable.

Some teens are uncertain about whether it’s acceptable to use ChatGPT for these tasks. Between 18% and 24% say they aren’t sure whether these are acceptable use cases for ChatGPT.

Those who have heard a lot about ChatGPT are more likely than those who have only heard a little about it to say it’s acceptable to use the chatbot to research topics, solve math problems and write essays. For instance, 54% of teens who have heard a lot about ChatGPT say it’s acceptable to use it to solve math problems, compared with 32% among those who have heard a little about it.

Note: Here are the  questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and its  methodology .

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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  26. Misconduct concerns, possible drug risks should stop major ...

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    MDA is the #1 health nonprofit advancing research, care and advocacy for people living with muscular dystrophy, ALS, ... Considerations & Case Studies in Process. Activity Snapshot. Activity Type: On-Demand Webinar. Release Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2023. Expiration Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2024.