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Method Of Case Study Writing Guidelines

A case study is one of the many research methods or strategies used by students that are studying a certain person, group, or situation. Case studies can usually be found in such areas of knowledge such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, education and much more.

Table Of Contents

Case Study Definition

It is a piece of scientific research that follows the development of a person, group or event over a period of time. They often exemplify a formal research method and are used to support a principle. This type of paper adds meaning to its field by contributing unique knowledge. To define “case study”, you might want to seek out examples of famous case studies.

What is The Purpose

The first thing you need to do is to determine what type of case study you are going to write about. After you have chosen the subject, you need to understand that the main purpose is to make a thorough analysis of a situation or case.

Types Of Case Studies

Case studies usually include abnormal phenomena that contributed to the field of study in which they were performed. The different types of case studies are in the fields of They also come in two types:


A psychology case study is an analysis of a person, group, or phenomenon. Psychologists use clinical research to describe rare events. Psychology studies are usually done by using case-control and problem-oriented study. The studies must be valid and reliable. Here is a list of famous case studies:

  • Harlow - Phineas Gage
  • Breuer & Freud (1895) - Anna O.
  • Harvey Cleckley's study of Multiple Personality Disorder (The Three Faces of Eve)
  • John Money and the John/Joan case
  • Genie (feral child)

Case-Control Study

This type of study is an observational one. It analyzes a potential relationship between the attribute and the outcome. For example, in a study that proves that smoking causes lung cancer, the smoker is the case, smoking is the attribute, cancer is the outcome, and a person who doesn’t smoke would be a control.

Problem Oriented Study

Some case studies require you to solve a problem by developing a new design. These types of case studies are problem orientated.


Almost every business is unique. However, case studies allow us to take away universal lessons and apply them. A business case study focuses on performance and retention, supply chain management, growth, and ad spending. Below are some famous case studies that you can read about as good case study examples.

  • Workplace Drug Abuse
  • Malden Mills
  • Starbucks on Every Corner
  • Small Customers, Big Profits
  • Succession Planning


Historical case studies analyze the causes and consequences of a situation and discuss the lessons learned. Otherwise, history can also refer to the background information. Make sure to gather as much participant or situational history as possible.


A case study is an incredibly useful way of conducting research. Case studies have been used across a number of disciplines. Individual researchers used case studies to diversify the discipline. This resulted in case study research evolving into a flexible approach to research.


Your instructor may assign a case study analysis instead of one that is stand-alone. This assignment is easier, as it only requires you to analyze and synthesize the research method used within an assigned case study. Begin with reading as many articles as possible about the proposed study and then proceed to review the actual first publication. By reading other pieces of writing on this subject, you will be able to comprehend the research method used in the assigned study easier.

Harvard Case Study

Harvard University has millions of case studies in their registry. Some students get access to them. However, they need to be purchased online most of the time. If you want to use a Harvard case study as an example, then you should either purchase one online or purchase a unique and ready-made example from one of EssayPro paper writers.

Types Of Methods

Case studies are investigations. Typically the method of gathering information for different cases involves observations, interviews, or gathering data information. The research continues for a long period of time. Most often, case study methodology is simply observing, reconstructing the history, and investigating a topic with extreme precision and detail. The data is collected and then analyzed. The conclusion either supports a pre-existing theory or acts as a base for a new theory. A good case study should always clarify which information is factual and which is altered by your bias toward a certain theory.


Using a template may be more helpful to your writing process. Move from section to section in your drafting process and then go back to the abstract and summarize your paper. A comprehensive template like this can also work to create an outline for your paper. Below is a comprehensive template that matches the case study layout:

Running Header:

  1. Name, academic degrees and affiliation

Name, address and telephone number of the corresponding author
Keywords: (limit of five)
Abstract: (maximum of 150 words)

  • Introduction
  • Case Presentation
  • Management and Outcome
  • Discussion
    Legends: (tables, figures, or images)

How To Write An Outline

The main goal of the outline of the paper is to help you organize your thoughts and data. After doing this, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture and write a complete paper. So let’s find out how to write an outline. Essentially your outline will contain three main parts: The Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion. But to be sure that your paper is fully finished, consult your lecturer about what he or she wants to be included in your paper. So let’s find out how an outline supposed to be written if you are going to write about a problem-oriented study:

I. Introduction (should contain your thesis statement or the topic of your research)

  • Statement of the Issue
  • Presentation of problems or problem
  • Explanation of the terms
  • Hypothesis
  • Analysis of Related Literature
  • Importance of your study
  • Significance of the study

II. Body (must involve the presentation of your arguments to support your thesis statement or topic. Try to find at least three approving arguments for each position.)

  • Background of the Study
  • Presentation of analysis and data
  • Strong argument 1
  • Strong argument 2
  • Strong argument 3

III. Conclusion (make a summary of all your arguments and research that you’ve made and state your final position.)

  • Concluding Statement
  • Recommendations

How to Format your paper

The research format is similar to most scientific reports. Your citation format should be chosen based on the discipline or the command of your instructor.

Title page: The first page of your masterpiece

  • Title: Pick a title that will attract attention and adequately describe your study. You may want to have a title that contains the word “case study” in it. Your title should range between 5-9 words in length
  • Your name and contact information
  • Keywords: this will make it easier for people to find in a search engine
  • Your finished case study should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. With this kind of an assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff.

Abstract: narrative and structured.

  • In a narrative abstract, you simply summarize the whole paper.
  • In a structured abstract, you may use subheadings to guide your reader.
  • It is recommended that you write your abstract after finishing the whole paper.
  • In the case of a structured abstract, the subheadings will be: introduction, case presentation, management and outcome, and discussion.


  • Introduction: Include one or two sentences to describe the context of the case and summarize the entire case study.
  • Case presentation: Here, include several sentences describe the history and results of the case.
  • Management and Outcome: Here, reference the measures you used and link it to the conclusion of the study.
  • Discussion: Synthesize and explain the case and within one or two sentences describe the lessons discovered or any that are yet to be learned.
  • Acknowledgments: If you received assistance with the case study, you may thank them in this section.
  • References: References should be listed as described elsewhere in the discipline of yours or your instructor’s choosing.
  • Legends: If you used tables, figures or photographs, they should be accompanied by a brief explanation. Make sure everything is understandable and included at the end of the manuscript.

Now that you understand the format and structure of a case study, here are some important pointers:

  • Use the template and work section by section to produce the first draft of your case study.
  • Before embarking on the writing process, you should gather all relevant materials. Ask yourself: “What is interesting about this case?”
  • You may want to consider writing an outline at first to make the process easier.

How To Cite Your Paper

Citing your work is definitely easier than writing about it. You can cite it just like you cite a book, depending what style you need.
In MLA: Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
In APA: Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
In Chicago: Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.


After you have finished the writing process, avoid any paper editing for a few hours or days. Then, give it a second read and correct small grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Make sure that everything flows as smooth as possible. Every paragraph should include transitions to give the readers an explanation of what will be next in the next paragraph.

Cover Page

A title page depends on the prescribed citation format. Here is a template for the APA format title page:


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 case study.
  • Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to decision-making.
  • Recognize and global importance and contribution.
  • Construct coherent summary and explanation of the study.
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills
  • Explain the interrelationships between environment and nature.
  • Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.

Ways Of Presenting Your Paper

Perhaps the most important reason people create case studies is to present them in a certain way. The presentation must be engaging and educate the audience on the significance of the work. Industries use presentations to showcase newly found information about the conducted research and impact. Firstly, consider various methods for your presentation. Find a way to capture the audience’s attention with graphics and illustrations. A Powerpoint, a Prezi, or a Google Slides presentation is easy to use and allows for the implementation of interesting transitions as well as charts and graphs. Leave your conclusion for the end of the presentation to keep the audience interested about the conclusion of the case study.

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Prof Trent, from EssayPro

When writing a case study, it is easy to get off topic. My piece of advice for your writing is to abstain from delving too much into technicalities while writing your case study. Whether your case study is a science piece or a business/economy piece, make your heading and subheadings attention-grabbing. This not only captures what the case study is about but also keeps the attention of your reader. Another piece of advice that I have for you is that you briefly summarize the broader topic beforehand, but don’t refer back to the summary during your actual case study. For example, if your case study is about psychological phenomena, then you would want to summarize the particular field of study (e.g. abnormal psychology) and then continue writing about your topic. My last tip for you is to use the cause-effect essay structure. What caused the case study? What was it's effect/result?

Don't Know Where to Start?

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This set of guidelines provides both instructions and a template for the writing of case reports for publication. You might want to skip forward and take a quick look at the template now, as we will be using it as the basis for your own case study later on. While the guidelines and template contain much detail, your finished case study should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length. Therefore, you will need to write efficiently and avoid unnecessarily flowery language.

These guidelines for the writing of case studies are designed to be consistent with the “Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals” referenced elsewhere in the JCCA instructions to authors.

After this brief introduction, the guidelines below will follow the headings of our template. Hence, it is possible to work section by section through the template to quickly produce a first draft of your study. To begin with, however, you must have a clear sense of the value of the study which you wish to describe. Therefore, before beginning to write the study itself, you should gather all of the materials relevant to the case – clinical notes, lab reports, x-rays etc. – and form a clear picture of the story that you wish to share with your profession. At the most superficial level, you may want to ask yourself “What is interesting about this case?” Keep your answer in mind as your write, because sometimes we become lost in our writing and forget the message that we want to convey.

Another important general rule for writing case studies is to stick to the facts. A case study should be a fairly modest description of what actually happened. Speculation about underlying mechanisms of the disease process or treatment should be restrained. Field practitioners and students are seldom well-prepared to discuss physiology or pathology. This is best left to experts in those fields. The thing of greatest value that you can provide to your colleagues is an honest record of clinical events.

Finally, remember that a case study is primarily a chronicle of a patient’s progress, not a story about chiropractic. Editorial or promotional remarks do not belong in a case study, no matter how great our enthusiasm. It is best to simply tell the story and let the outcome speak for itself. With these points in mind, let’s begin the process of writing the case study:

  • Title page:
    1. Title: The title page will contain the full title of the article. Remember that many people may find our article by searching on the internet. They may have to decide, just by looking at the title, whether or not they want to access the full article. A title which is vague or non-specific may not attract their attention. Thus, our title should contain the phrase “case study,” “case report” or “case series” as is appropriate to the contents. The two most common formats of titles are nominal and compound. A nominal title is a single phrase, for example “A case study of hypertension which responded to spinal manipulation.” A compound title consists of two phrases in succession, for example “Response of hypertension to spinal manipulation: a case study.” Keep in mind that titles of articles in leading journals average between 8 and 9 words in length.

    2. Other contents for the title page should be as in the general JCCA instructions to authors. Remember that for a case study, we would not expect to have more than one or two authors. In order to be listed as an author, a person must have an intellectual stake in the writing – at the very least they must be able to explain and even defend the article. Someone who has only provided technical assistance, as valuable as that may be, may be acknowledged at the end of the article, but would not be listed as an author. Contact information – either home or institutional – should be provided for each author along with the authors’ academic qualifications. If there is more than one author, one author must be identified as the corresponding author – the person whom people should contact if they have questions or comments about the study.

    3. Key words: Provide key words under which the article will be listed. These are the words which would be used when searching for the article using a search engine such as Medline. When practical, we should choose key words from a standard list of keywords, such as MeSH (Medical subject headings). A copy of MeSH is available in most libraries. If we can’t access a copy and we want to make sure that our keywords are included in the MeSH library, we can visit this address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/meshbrowser.cgi

  • Abstract: Abstracts generally follow one of two styles, narrative or structured.

    A narrative abstract consists of a short version of the whole paper. There are no headings within the narrative abstract. The author simply tries to summarize the paper into a story which flows logically.

    A structured abstract uses subheadings. Structured abstracts are becoming more popular for basic scientific and clinical studies, since they standardize the abstract and ensure that certain information is included. This is very useful for readers who search for articles on the internet. Often the abstract is displayed by a search engine, and on the basis of the abstract the reader will decide whether or not to download the full article (which may require payment of a fee). With a structured abstract, the reader is more likely to be given the information which they need to decide whether to go on to the full article, and so this style is encouraged. The JCCA recommends the use of structured abstracts for case studies.

    Since they are summaries, both narrative and structured abstracts are easier to write once we have finished the rest of the article. We include a template for a structured abstract and encourage authors to make use of it. Our sub-headings will be:
    1. Introduction: This consists of one or two sentences to describe the context of the case and summarize the entire article.

    2. Case presentation: Several sentences describe the history and results of any examinations performed. The working diagnosis and management of the case are described.

    3. Management and Outcome: Simply describe the course of the patient’s complaint. Where possible, make reference to any outcome measures which you used to objectively demonstrate how the patient’s condition evolved through the course of management.

    4. Discussion: Synthesize the foregoing subsections and explain both correlations and apparent inconsistencies. If appropriate to the case, within one or two sentences describe the lessons to be learned.

  • Introduction: At the beginning of these guidelines we suggested that we need to have a clear idea of what is particularly interesting about the case we want to describe. The introduction is where we convey this to the reader. It is useful to begin by placing the study in a historical or social context. If similar cases have been reported previously, we describe them briefly. If there is something especially challenging about the diagnosis or management of the condition that we are describing, now is our chance to bring that out. Each time we refer to a previous study, we cite the reference (usually at the end of the sentence). Our introduction doesn’t need to be more than a few paragraphs long, and our objective is to have the reader understand clearly, but in a general sense, why it is useful for them to be reading about this case.

  • Case presentation: This is the part of the paper in which we introduce the raw data. First, we describe the complaint that brought the patient to us. It is often useful to use the patient’s own words. Next, we introduce the important information that we obtained from our history-taking. We don’t need to include every detail – just the information that helped us to settle on our diagnosis. Also, we should try to present patient information in a narrative form – full sentences which efficiently summarize the results of our questioning. In our own practice, the history usually leads to a differential diagnosis – a short list of the most likely diseases or disorders underlying the patient’s symptoms. We may or may not choose to include this list at the end of this section of the case presentation.

    The next step is to describe the results of our clinical examination. Again, we should write in an efficient narrative style, restricting ourselves to the relevant information. It is not necessary to include every detail in our clinical notes.

    If we are using a named orthopedic or neurological test, it is best to both name and describe the test (since some people may know the test by a different name). Also, we should describe the actual results, since not all readers will have the same understanding of what constitutes a “positive” or “negative” result.

    X-rays or other images are only helpful if they are clear enough to be easily reproduced and if they are accompanied by a legend. Be sure that any information that might identify a patient is removed before the image is submitted.

    At this point, or at the beginning of the next section, we will want to present our working diagnosis or clinical impression of the patient.

  • Management and Outcome: In this section, we should clearly describe the plan for care, as well as the care which was actually provided, and the outcome.

    It is useful for the reader to know how long the patient was under care and how many times they were treated. Additionally, we should be as specific as possible in describing the treatment that we used. It does not help the reader to simply say that the patient received “chiropractic care.” Exactly what treatment did we use? If we used spinal manipulation, it is best to name the technique, if a common name exists, and also to describe the manipulation. Remember that our case study may be read by people who are not familiar with spinal manipulation, and, even within chiropractic circles, nomenclature for technique is not well standardized.

    We may want to include the patient’s own reports of improvement or worsening. However, whenever possible we should try to use a well-validated method of measuring their improvement. For case studies, it may be possible to use data from visual analogue scales (VAS) for pain, or a journal of medication usage.

    It is useful to include in this section an indication of how and why treatment finished. Did we decide to terminate care, and if so, why? Did the patient withdraw from care or did we refer them to another practitioner?

  • Discussion: In this section we may want to identify any questions that the case raises. It is not our duty to provide a complete physiological explanation for everything that we observed. This is usually impossible. Nor should we feel obligated to list or generate all of the possible hypotheses that might explain the course of the patient’s condition. If there is a well established item of physiology or pathology which illuminates the case, we certainly include it, but remember that we are writing what is primarily a clinical chronicle, not a basic scientific paper. Finally, we summarize the lessons learned from this case.

  • Acknowledgments: If someone provided assistance with the preparation of the case study, we thank them briefly. It is neither necessary nor conventional to thank the patient (although we appreciate what they have taught us). It would generally be regarded as excessive and inappropriate to thank others, such as teachers or colleagues who did not directly participate in preparation of the paper.

  • References: References should be listed as described elsewhere in the instructions to authors. Only use references that you have read and understood, and actually used to support the case study. Do not use more than approximately 15 references without some clear justification. Try to avoid using textbooks as references, since it is assumed that most readers would already have this information. Also, do not refer to personal communication, since readers have no way of checking this information.

    A popular search engine for English-language references is Medline: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi

  • Legends: If we used any tables, figures or photographs, they should be accompanied by a succinct explanation. A good rule for graphs is that they should contain sufficient information to be generally decipherable without reference to a legend.

  • Tables, figures and photographs should be included at the end of the manuscript.

  • Permissions: If any tables, figures or photographs, or substantial quotations, have been borrowed from other publications, we must include a letter of permission from the publisher. Also, if we use any photographs which might identify a patient, we will need their written permission.

  • In addition, patient consent to publish the case report is also required.

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