Writing a Case Study: Tips for Success
A case study is a problem that needs to be solved.
Topics can range from mental health and suicide of someone to whether or not the Loch Ness Monster is real, and anything in between. As long as there is a predicament of some sort that needs an answer, you’ve got a case study.
A good case study doesn’t just give the reader a play-by-play of what’s going on.
There should be enough information for the reader to know the ins and outs of the topic, but there are still some questions that arise in their mind as they work through the literature.
It’s supposed to make people think, not do the thinking for them.
After reading the information, the reader should be able to come up with a theoretical solution for the problem.
It’s a challenge that you’re presenting to your reader (the same one that you were faced with upon starting this project).
There are three areas of expertise in putting together a case study: the research, the analysis and the writing.
This should be pretty self-explanatory since everything I can think of needs some sort of research done in order for it to be understood properly.
Go to the library or lock yourself away somewhere in front of your computer and research your topic. Investigate everything about it; learn it like the back of your hand.
Find out if it has been written before? Is there another angle that you overlooked? Is there something that you could help improve on?
Once you have your angle, it’s time to go talk to people. Get some interviewing done with “experts” on the topic. These could be people working at the site, government officials and even visitors.
When interviewing, as questions that will offer their opinions, but make sure that you can get some factual information as well. Don’t settle for a simple “yes” or “no” answer — ask them to go further into detail and explain what they mean.
You’re a reporter and your job is to get as much information as you can. You may not use it all in the final product, but it’s better to have to cut out extra than have nothing more to add when you need it.
Organize your material and go through and keep what is usable and get rid of what doesn’t apply. Make sure all your information is accessible and you know exactly what you can find there.
The next thing you have to do is condense your case study into a sentence or two (there can be ones for each section of a case study that is made up of different parts). Think of it as a thesis statement: the one sentence that sums up what this entire study is about. This will keep you focused and stop you from straying when it’s being written.
The issue at hand should be introduced early on, hopefully in the first paragraph. Readers don’t want to have to sift through material and find out what it is about 50 pages in.
Present the query as a question, paint a picture for the reader—just don’t be the boring person that says, “The focus of this case study is (insert topic).”
Your organization of the remainder of the case study is equally important as your introduction of the topic. You want to make sure that it is clear and easy to follow, minimizing confusion.
A good basic set up is as follows:
- Introduction: What the problem is.
- Background information: Summary of the main points and give readers a basic overview.
- Visitor’s comments: This is what could potentially be relatable by the reader.
- Government policy: Include what is and isn’t allowed by the government.
- Business/employee prospects: Is there a consumer market available?
- Conclusion: Don’t just tell the reader what to think, leave them with a question or two.
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