Using Case Studies

A case study collects and presents detailed information about a particular person or a small group. It often includes the accounts of subjects themselves. A form of qualitative descriptive research, the case study looks intensely at an individual or small participant pool, drawing conclusions only about that participant or group and only in that specific context.
Researchers do not focus on the discovery of a universal, generalizable truth, nor do they typically look for cause-effect relationships; instead, they emphasize exploration and description.

Tips on Writing Case Studies

Fundamentally, a case study is a narrative of another person’s or group’s situation. Skillful and engaging storytelling is helpful in this type of writing. Some experience with basic field research techniques is useful for collecting the information to be presented in a case study.

Use a basic past-to-present chronology to organize a case study.

Key Elements of a Case Study


Make sure your title is short, catchy and conveys the idea behind your story.

The Situation

Explain the situation you are reporting: is it a problem, a change for the worse, a success? Describe the situation in the past and what it is like now.

The Personal Focus of Your Story

Introduce the person or group on which you wish your reader to focus. Give background details that humanize and put the reader there: location, time, ages, relationships, etc.

The Change or the Unique Element in the Story

This is the central part of your story in which you highlight the change or particular reason for the focus. Why are you telling the reader this?

The Conclusion

A summary of the above narrative and discussion of the larger implications of your case study.