How to Write a Case Study: The Basics

A case study describes a situation in which a problem has been presented. Background information is provided, and the solution is described. Also, the method of how it was obtained is included. To encourage readers to find their own solutions or review those already implemented, a case study is written. Writers aim to share experiences that are similar to the author’s as they researched the case.

Before you can actually write anything, there are several steps to follow:

  • Select the situation in which you want to write
  • Collect as much information about the situation as you can.
  • Analyse all aspects of the situation
  • Find the final solution
  • Find out why the solution failed.

These are the steps that will help you create your case study.

Describe the problem/situation

The reader must have a clear understanding about the problem. The problem can be stated explicitly in the study. Start by sharing quotes from people who are familiar with the situation. Or you can present a question:

  • ABC Hospital has a higher rate of post-surgical infections than other hospitals in the region.
  • ABC Hospital’s Director of Nursing stated, “Despite following strict standards, we still experience high post-surgical infections rates.”
  • Why is the ABC Hospital’s post-surgical infection rate higher than any other local health center?

This is the way the reader will think about the problem as he or she continues reading the case study. This sets the expectation that the reader will use the information to understand the situation.

Provide background

Background refers to the information that you have found out about why there is a problem. This includes facts and figures from reliable sources. This section can contain graphs, tables, charts, photos, audio files, or any other information that may be useful. Interviews are also a good idea. Anecdotal data might also be useful.

According to employees at the facility in the past, this problem has been an issue for many years.”

The author’s opinion is what isn’t included in this section:

“I don’t believe the infected review procedures are closely followed”

This section gives the reader information they can use to reach their own conclusions. You are providing clues that the reader can use to solve the mystery. How did this problem develop from all of the evidence? How can this trend be reversed to eliminate the problem?

A case study is not meant to tell readers what they should think. The case study guides the reader through the thought process that led to the final conclusion. Readers may draw their own conclusions or disagree with the logic presented. It’s okay to have multiple solutions. As they read the case studies, readers will be able to see things from their perspective.

Please describe the solution

This section will discuss the solution and the thought process that led to it. This section guides the reader from the beginning to the actual solution. It may include speculations and opinions of the author.

While facts will play a role in the decision making process, there is also subjective thinking.

“Taking into consideration A, B, and C, the committee recommended solution X. The committee considered this the best approach to the budget situation.

The key elements that led to the solution should be briefly described. Make sure you know the end goal. Did it slow down, reduce, or eliminate the problem altogether?

Assess the solution.

The case study may not be applicable to a recent situation.

“New infection standards were adopted during the first quarter. The center hopes to have sufficient information by year’s end in order to evaluate their effectiveness.”

Once the solution is in place, it’s possible to review and gather facts and impressions. This section will include a summary of the effectiveness of the solution.

Tell the whole story

Writing case studies is all about telling the story of how a problem has been solved. The case study focuses on the evidence and the solution. As if the reader were part of the project, the writing style guides them through the problem analysis. This case study can be both educational and entertaining.