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Guidelines to the writing of case studies

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❶The JCCA recommends the use of structured abstracts for case studies. Let the reader leave with a full grasp of the problem, but trying to come up with their own desire to change it.

General Instructions

How to Write a Case Study

Plan for a long-term study. Most academic case studies last at least 3—6 months, and many of them continue for years. You may be limited by your research funding or the length of your degree program, but you should allow a few weeks to conduct the study at the very least.

Design your research strategy in detail. Create an outline describing how you will gather data and answer your research questions. The exact approach is up to you, but these tips may help: Create four or five bullet points that you intend to answer, if possible, in the study.

Consider perspectives on approaching the question and the related bullet points. Choose at least two, and preferably more, of these data sources: Design interview questions that will lead to in-depth answers and continued conversations related to your research goals.

Recruit participants if necessary. You may have a specific individual in mind, or you may need to recruit people from a broader pool who satisfy your research criteria. Make your research methods and time frame extremely clear to the potential participants. Unclear communication could be a breach of ethics, or could cause a participant to walk out partway through the study, wasting a great deal of time.

Since you aren't conducting a statistical analysis, you do not need to recruit a diverse cross-section of society. You should be aware of any biases in your small sample, and make them clear in your report, but they do not invalidate your research. If studying people, research information in their past that may be relevant, possibly including medical history, family history, or history of an organization.

A good background knowledge of the research topic and similar case studies could help guide your own research as well, especially if you are writing a critical interest case study. Any case study, but especially case studies with a retrospective component, will benefit from basic academic research strategies.

Learn how to conduct obtrusive observation. In a case study involving human participants, ethics guidelines do not typically allow you to "spy" on the participants. You must practice obtrusive observation, where the participants are aware of your presence. Unlike a quantitative study, you may talk with the participants, make them feel comfortable, and include yourself in activities. Some researchers do attempt to maintain a distance, but be aware that your presence will affect the behavior of the participants regardless of the relationship you form with them.

Establishing trust with participants can result in less inhibited behavior. Observing people in their home, workplaces, or other "natural" environments may be more effective than bringing them to a laboratory or office. Having subjects fill out a questionnaire is a common example of obtrusive research.

Subjects know they are being studied, so their behavior will change, but this is a quick and sometimes the only way to gain certain information. Extensive notes during observation will be vital when you are compiling your final report.

In some case studies, it may be appropriate to ask the participant to record experiences in a diary. Depending on the total length of your case study, you might hold an interview weekly, once every month or two, or just once or twice a year.

Begin with the interview questions you prepared in the planning phase, then iterate to dig deeper into the topic: Describe meaning — ask the participant what the experience means to them, or what "life lessons" they take from it. Ask what mental and emotional associations they have with the subject of your study, whether it's a medical condition, an event, or another topic.

A case study may feel less data-driven than a medical trial or a scientific experiment, but attention to rigor and valid methodology remains vital. If you find yourself drawn to studying a participant on one extreme end of the spectrum, set aside time to observe a more "typical" participant as well. Any sources you cite should be thoroughly checked for reliability. Collect all of your data and analyze it. After reading and referring back to your original bullet points, you may find that the data reacts in a surprising manner.

You need to pull your information together and focus it before writing case studies, especially if your research was performed in intervals across months or years.

If you are working with more than one person you will want to assign sections for completion together to make sure your case study will flow. For example, one person may be in charge of making charts of the data you gathered, while other people will each write an analysis of one of your bullet points you are trying to answer. Write your final case study report. Based on the research questions you designed and the type of case study you conducted, this may be a descriptive report, an analytic argument grounded in a specific case, or a suggested direction for further research or projects.

Include your most relevant observations and interviews in the case study itself, and consider attaching additional data such as full interviews as an appendix for readers to refer to.

If writing a case study for a non-academic audience, consider using a narrative form, describing the events that occurred during your case study in chronological order.

Minimize your use of jargon. Ask permission from a client. A marketing case study describes a "success story" between a business and a client. Organize all of your data in the same place to ensure easy access to information and materials while writing the case study.

You can't include it all. So, you need to think about how to sort through it, take out the excess, and arrange it so that the situation at the case site will be understandable to your readers. Before you can do this, you have to put all the information together where you can see it and analyze what is going on. Formulate the problem in one or two sentences.

As you go through your data, think about how you can put what you've found into a thesis-like statement. What patterns have your subjects brought to light? This will allow you to concentrate on what material is the most important. You're bound to receive information from participants that should be included, but solely on the periphery.

Organize your material to mirror this. Method 3 Quiz What information should you request from interview participants? Yes or no responses. Statistics relating to the use of a new product. Additional resources for your research. Develop and write your case study using the data collected throughout the research, interviewing and analysis processes. Include at least four sections in your case study: The introduction should very clearly set the stage.

In a detective story, the crime happens right at the beginning and the detective has to put together the information to solve it for the rest of the story. In a case, you can start by raising a question. You could quote someone you interviewed. Make sure to include background information on your study site, why your interviewees are a good sample, and what makes your problem pressing to give your audience a panoramic view of the issue.

After you've clearly stated the problem at hand, of course. After the reader has all the knowledge needed to understand the problem, present your data. Include customer quotes and data percentages, awards and findings if possible to add a personal touch and more credibility to the case presented.

You may have to do calculations or extra research yourself to back up any claims. At the end of your analysis, you should offer possible solutions, but don't worry about solving the case itself. You may find referring to some interviewees' statements will do the alluding for you.

Let the reader leave with a full grasp of the problem, but trying to come up with their own desire to change it. If you have written a good case, they will have enough information to understand the situation and have a lively class discussion. Add references and appendices if any. Just like you would in any other paper, reference your sources. That's why you got credible ones in the first place. And if you have any information that relates to the study but would have interrupted the flow of the body, include it now.

You may have terms that would be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, include it in the appendix or in a Note for the Instructor. Make additions and deletions. As your work is forming, you'll notice that it may morph into an object you didn't otherwise expect. If it does so, make additions and deletions as needed. You may find that information you once thought pertinent is no longer. Go over your study section by section, but also as a whole.

Each data point needs to fit into both it's place and the entirety of the work. If you can't find an appropriate place for something, stick it in the appendix. Edit and proofread your work. Now that your paper is formulated, look for minute revisions. As always, correct any grammar, spelling and punctuation errors, but also keep an eye out for flow and transition. Is everything placed and worded as efficiently as possible?

Have someone else proofread, too. Your mind may have become oblivious to the errors it has seen times. Another set of eyes may also notice content that has been left open-ended or is otherwise confusing. Method 4 Quiz Which of these is a section that you should you include in your case study?

All of the above. The simplest thing would be to identify the situation and key problems. Include them in the introductory section of your case study. Once you have done that, identify how those problems were solved. This will bring you to the next section - Solution - this is the most technical part, in which you have to explain the solution and its components. Once done, figure out the benefits achieved and list them.

The concluding remarks can talk about takeaways, future prospects and recommendations. Not Helpful 0 Helpful Use primary sources to research the background and events, then write about what happened and why it is important. Not Helpful 3 Helpful 9. Open Power Point, then write your case study. Use charts, graphs and other visual representations. Not Helpful 7 Helpful 5. Use brutal honesty, but do not be opinionated.

State the true facts, and use appropriate language regarding the situation. 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.

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

The distinction between migraine and cervicogenic headache is not always clear. However, this case demonstrates several features …. Summarize the case and any lessons learned: This case demonstrates a classical presentation of cervicogenic headache which resolved quickly with a course of spinal manipulation, supportive soft-tissue therapy and postural advice. Vertebrogenic hearing deficit, the spine and spinal manipulation therapy: Chiropr J Aust ; Intensity of headaches as recorded on a visual analogue scale vertical axis versus time horizontal axis during the four weeks that the patient was under care.

Treatment was given on days 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 22 and Headache frequency and intensity is seen to fall over time. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. J Can Chiropr Assoc.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Open in a separate window. Introduction Case studies are an invaluable record of the clinical practices of a profession. Additional and useful resources for chiropractic case studies include: Single subject research designs. J Can Chirop Assoc ; 35 2: J Can Chiropr Assoc ; 51 2: General Instructions This set of guidelines provides both instructions and a template for the writing of case reports for publication.

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.

The two most common formats of titles are nominal and compound. 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.

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. 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. 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.

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Drafting the Case. Once you have gathered the necessary information, a draft of your analysis should include these sections: Introduction. Identify the key problems and issues in the case study. Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1–2 sentences. Background. Set the scene: background information, .

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A case study paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or among more than two subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

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Guidelines to the writing of case studies. Dr. Brian Budgell, DC, PhD * 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. and actually used to support the case study. Do not use more than approximately 15 references without some clear justification. Try to. Case Study Academic Writers. Writing a case study is not every person’s forte. If you are having trouble developing a case study, know that you are not alone.

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