Outline for Writing a Case Study

Tip to write a case study

Writing a case study is an art, involving the skill to thread different pieces of information together, so as to form one beautiful and interesting picture. To write an interesting case study, the most crucial factor is the presence of a ‘quandary’. The case to be analyzed should involve a dilemma or problem to be solved by the reader. It should be written in such a way that it provides just enough information regarding the problem, and enables the reader to come up with a probable solution. The information in the case should not provide the answer to the problem, but should make the reader think.

Case Identification
While one is on the lookout for a situation to write a case on, it is best to pick up current events, as they will have something new and interesting for case readers. One should devour newspapers, magazines, etc. for an interesting dilemma worthy of becoming a case study. One can even go through important articles published earlier, which can be found in libraries or on the Internet.
Researching on the Internet is less time-consuming and efficient as compared to the conventional library format. However, not all interesting articles can become cases. Once a situation is found interesting enough, check if there is enough information regarding the subject available on the internet, or else you will hit a dead end in your case. So make sure there is no dearth of information.

Prepare a Trigger
When a particular situation has been narrowed down, one should jot down the aim and objectives of the case. The trigger comprises about 5 to 7 lines of what the case intends to talk about. At this stage, one should also select a title for the case.

The title should be relevant to the case, as it plays an important role in attracting readers. The crux of the case study should be captured in the title. So think before you give a title. The title acts as a rudder for the case and an inappropriate title will cause the case to capsize.

Prepare a Case Structure
Once the basic objective of the case study has been determined in the trigger, one needs to prepare a case structure. This case structure is the framework or outline for writing a case study. This stage is the most important stage, as it is the backbone of the entire case.
A weak case structure will result in utter confusion and disarrayed thoughts while actually writing the case. Thorough research should be conducted regarding all aspects of the event. The history of the site, company or person should be understood well.
Collect as much data as possible and carry out an in-depth longitudinal examination of the same. The case writer should read, understand and analyze the compiled data. To prepare the case structure, one should jot down what one wants to analyze in and through the case. The questions arising in the mind of the case writer while conducting research are the ones that are to be included in ‘what I want analyzed’.
Once the questions (7-8) are formulated, then one can divide the case study into sections. What is to be written in each section should also be decided.
For example, if the case is about two companies A and B merging, then the first section can talk about company A and B’s profile. The next section can talk about the merger and the prospects of the merger becoming successful. The case structure also needs the bigger picture to be formulated. How the current situation affects the bigger picture is also to be analyzed, which is why it is important to identify it at the case structure stage.

Writing the Case
After all the research and analysis is done, it is time to add flesh to the case study framework. Enough time has been spent in data collection and analyzing the case. Now it’s time to actually write the case. One should keep the case structure in mind while writing the case. It ensures one remains on track.
While writing the case, one should remember that case writing is not fiction writing. All the information written should be validated. For secondary research, footnotes have to be added to validate every fact. If the situation pertains to a particular individual, group or community, then primary research can be carried out. Do not write down what you incurred from the situation or what your opinions or interpretations are.
A case study is just a compilation of facts, in your own words. The case writer should give the readers a chance to understand the case, analyze it, and come up with solutions.
If you want to add your personal touch to the case, the place you can do it is in primary research. Primary research involves conducting personal interviews, brainstorming sessions, distributing questionnaires, etc. However, don’t just carry out primary research because you want to. First check if the case study requires primary research to be carried out.

Conclusion
It is advisable not to put one’s own conclusion. Instead, it’s best to end the case with a question, which will leave the reader contemplating the case. The conclusion should be such that it stirs the thoughts of the reader, provoking him to use his mind.
The above steps serve as a simple guideline on how to write a case study. Each case will have its own dilemmas, and the style of portraying it will be different. However, the general outline for writing a case study will be the same. While writing a case study, one should make sure it can be understood in other countries as well. To make sure a case study is suitable for the international market, local jargon should be avoided. For any country-specific data, an explanation should be included in the footnotes.

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