Part I: What Is a Case Study?

Part I: What Is a Case Study?

In the first section of the guide, you’ll find the definition of the "case study." The introduction includes 3 styles. The first two methods are formal. The third one is identified as a problem-solving technique with a range of informal or semi-formal research or profiling.

The first piece of information includes definitions. A case study may be defined as the professional type of paper applied to some social sciences, nursing, healthcare, legal, and other fields. It is frequently discovered in customer/patient service. So, the students and young professionals from the medical, social, and legal areas will face the challenge associated with solving a case study most often.

This paper often explains the issues connected with human health, and it interprets a therapy required to improve the health of the patient. Although it is used especially in such industries mentioned above, a case study possesses a more overall meaning when dealing rationally in a step-by-step manner. So, it can be applied to any sort of relevant problem in the professional settings. Personal issues can also be solved this way. A case study usually obeys a critical-thinking pattern of testing something.

  • Subject’s background
  • Problem identification
  • Plan used to resolve the issues
  • Offered solution
  • Outcomes and discussion

A Couple of Formal Patterns for Case Studies

We can recall two patterns for a formal case study. Let’s have a look at the outlays of both. The first one refers to the individual. The second one is research. Observe the table of the common organizational pattern applied in each of the cases:

TWO FORMAL CASE STUDY PATTERNS

Individual Client Research Survey
Short Introduction
-----
- INDIVIDUAL
- SYMPTOMS:
Issues & Analysis
- TREATMENT PLAN: Elements, Usage, 
and Outcomes/Forecast

-----
Small Concluding Paragraph
Short Introduction
-----
- BACKGROUND
- INTRODUCE RESEARCH: 
Sample, Tools and Methods, 
and Analysis
- FINDINGS
- RESULTS
-----
Short Conclusion  

More examples of case study structure and solved papers can be found here.

Case Study of an Individual: Several versions of case studies in various academic subjects exist. At the same time, in this situation, we deal with an overall pattern. It is rather typical for creating a corresponding paper.

Introductory section: a small intro which includes the client or patient data, company responsible for this individual, the staff which is on duty and has to provide tests and professional treatment along with the corresponding support, and the goal of the case study.

Individual paragraph: A detailed description of the client, the aspect introduced during the initial meetings, and overall information. This part requires using various devices such as the 5 W’s of journalism; the five common senses (appearance, the way he or she sounds, moves, takes food, etc.); relations with society, work background, and educational history; etc. This paragraph does not have to cover the problem of illness.

Symptoms/Issues & Analysis: A detailed discussion of the individual’s problem. It can also be expressed through the list of symptoms and a diagnosis.

Treatment Plan: The part should be separated in three different sub-sections:

  • COMPOUNDS OF TREATMENT—a summary of the help system. Define the therapeutic method your entity has selected as the treatment technique. The same thing should be done in the abstract in full or just partially. This paragraph is not for explaining the way personnel plans to use the selected tools.
  • APPLICATION OF RECOVERY—a summary of the way treatment was provided as well as the explanation of what has occurred alongside the treatment procedures.
  • OUTCOMES and FORECAST—a description of the outcomes and consequences of the chosen basic therapy once it was completed supported with the health prognosis (long-term).

Conclusion: the last section of your case study must include the patient’s personal data, illness, support, and the result. Follow these guidelines to divide information about your individual into the logical sections.

Research Survey: There are various versions of the case study known as a research survey. It is recommended to have a conversation with your mentor to understand which categories should be included. Here is 1 type of pattern:

Introduction section: a rather short introduction with the summary of the existing problem or reasons for the study, the general information, the techniques applied to the present study, the outcomes, and what explanation of the results.

The basic rule is that this part of your case study must be really short in case a detailed abstract is not added at the beginning. There is also a so-called precis, which is pretty much the same. The only difference is a strong key topic sentence which should appear in each section of the precis. These points should be repeated later in your paper. The abstract/precis can turn into the paragraphs of your solved case study further in your work as well as a separate, lengthier, maximum 2-paragraph part which follows the introduction.

Background: Develop a basic research information that prompted the survey. Think about the good sides your study possesses for the industry. In case you carry out a complete research paper, this is one of the aspects which you have to cite or rewrite a certain amount of the recent, credible sources to assist in presenting the need for your research and the certain features that are applied to the methodology. As far as there can be multiple resources mentioned, this part can be rather long.

Client/Patient: a detailed individual profile, the nuances this person demonstrates at the initial consultations, and the overall background. Apply different devices as we have already discussed above. The problem itself should not be discussed in this paragraph of your case study. Leave it for the next sections.

Introduce Your Study: Once again, the author has to separate the block into 3 sub-titled parts as written below:

  • SAMPLE — Write down details about the group of people selected for your research. Explain the way you pick these participants and give the reasons why they fit your study the best. Share the parameters of your selection process in order to let your target audience understand whether and how scientific your decisions were.
  • TOOL — In the same way, write down information on the questions o techniques you pick to apply to the selected sample; how you decide on the questions; provide reasons for doing so. Don’t miss the details: identify questions or the chosen methodology. Once again, it is done to prove you were rational during your decisive processes.
  • ANALYSIS — State the results in the shape of tables, lists, or graphs.

Findings: Conclude with your tabulated results by interpreting them with the help of words. Factual meanings of each outcome must be involved.

Conclusions: Talk about the potential outcomes, meanings, obvious explanations, and potentials performed by the findings. Moreover, the author can speak about possible further directions for valuable study and new findings. Concluding paragraph turns into a long one when the cited and rewritten resources are added to serve as the support for your explanations and offers for further research.

Conclusion: it is not the same as the previous section. Simply restate the thesis (why the study was needed), the current research, basic findings, and results. It should be short.

Informal Observation Report/Beginning Profile

We move to the third pattern. If we speak about the case study, it would be an informal one which means developing a system for composing semi-formal exploration reports or initial profiles in certain areas. There are several types of the third pattern for a case study. The major factors of it arrive from critical-thinking and storytelling.  The generally accepted structure is:

  • person/individual
  • problem (demand/claim)
  • solution (diagnosis/result)

If you deal with the story, avoid making a narration out of it. Don’t jump from event to event in chronological order. It is better to divide all information you collect with the help of a single or several particular categories or systems of identification. E.g. while interpreting the client or employee's background, the author may apply a range of questions like 10 P’s.

Personal 10 P's:
  • Portrait (how the person looks)
  • Past history
  • Problems and issues
  • People with whom he or she interacts
  • Places and locations
  • Plans (short-term and long-term basis)
  • Phases (various time period patterns)
  • Phrases
  • Passions
  • Pains

By using a system with certain categories, you can come up with the logical and in-depth description. In addition, the details look more consistent in their well-organized content.

Further, in the text, you can find different systems of description. We would like to focus on the less popular systems as well. They are called the use of the five senses and the 5 W's.

The first one stands for the description of the individual with the help of various known senses that can be observed during the meetings. Those are usually sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Basically, adjectives are used to describe these senses. The second method refers to asking the questions which are often posed by the scriptwriter for the news to deliver the most recent and relevant messages to the wide audience. By providing the answers to the questions "Who?," "What?," "Where?," "When," and "Why," a researcher can accomplish the case study in the way a news report is prepared. Readers often prefer this structure.

Your career or specific job duties, as well as your mentor, can possess more than one particular or usable organizations/formats to use. So, it is important to specify the task just like you do when you write a college case study. By the way, school and college case studies may prepare you for further career choice.

To make it clear, we have come up with the simple chart pointing out the 4 types of expert areas which imply individual-problem-solution method in draft writing or initial explorations/discoveries:

INFORMAL OBSERVATION

Occupation Description
of Individual
Description
of Issue
Offered/Potential Solution
Psychological,  Psychiatric, or other Healthcare Services: Physical or medical interpretation, 5 W's method Tell about client’s physical and mental issues and propose a diagnosis Treatment plan and potential outcomes
Social Activities: Marital status, social status, financial wealth, etc. What are the client’s elementary needs like food and housing? Support programs schedule and results
Legal Client Data: 5 W's along with the background information What about the legal requirement and position? Potential legal actions and outcomes
Police Case Data: Complainant or Suspect--five W's, five senses, and legal report Add details about the crime--five W's and five senses 5 W's of projected action plan along with other solutions

Rules of Carrying Out a Case Study

Verb Tense, Tone or Voice, and Format: A case study is composed in the past tense. Otherwise, it would be impossible to write about the client’s history and treatment process. You should start working on the case study only once the results are obtained. The tone must be professional, official, and logical; avoid slang and jargon. However, from time to time, depending on the case, it can be cool and distance. Often, a warm tone is required or even motivated. What every student and researcher have to keep in mind is that a case study is always a scientific document.

Stay Reasonable and Inclusive: As it was discussed before in the text, a case study belongs to the scientific writing. Your thinking must be respective. When we deal with informal observations, a mere opinion still must be excluded. Try to stick to the scientific or academic standards established by your educational institution.

These standards should be reasonable: avoid any sort of guesswork. It should be obvious to your reader why and how you wrote a certain case study solution. The authors have to put down only those things that were already observed and had no doubts. The author may say, “The patient was explored while arriving at the clinic in a drunk condition with two hands cradling it to his chest." It is not enough to say that the patient was simply drunk. It is even better to specify what exactly he or she was drinking when entering the hospital. Write the facts instead of naked conclusions which have no support.

A second standard demand that the paper has to be inclusive. In other words, the author has to research every detail except for sharing what you see initially. If you composed the observation sample from the previous paragraph, you must also include other relevant facts, especially if they appear to be potentially contradictory, such as "A client was wearing a clean business suit and had a few scars on his stomach.” You can also mention who came along with the guy and concluded with the specific arrival date.

A third important scientific standard is to be thorough. It’s about playing with the range of senses.

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