What is a case study?

Why use case studies?

Types of case studies

How to write a case study

  1. Define the problem or focus: Clearly state the research question your case study aims to address.
  2. Choose your case(s): Carefully select your subject ensuring it aligns with your research question and objectives.
  3. Data collection: Use diverse methods – interviews, observations, documents, surveys, archival records, etc.
  4. Data analysis: Identify themes, patterns, relationships, and key takeaways. Look for both confirming and disconfirming evidence.
  5. Report writing: Present a clear, structured narrative with a compelling introduction, background, data presentation, analysis, and conclusions,

Example Case Study Topics

Here’s how to determine the characteristics of a case study, along with explanations of the terms involved:

Types of Case Study Designs

Reasoning Approaches


Case Selection


How to Determine Your Case Study’s Characteristics

To figure out the characteristics of your specific case study research, consider these questions:

  1. Purpose:
    • Were you primarily describing a phenomenon?
    • Were you exploring possible factors or relationships without a set hypothesis?
    • Were you testing a specific theory or looking for cause-and-effect links?
    • Were you judging the value or impact of something?
  2. Approach:
    • Did you start with a theory and apply it to the case?
    • Did you let the data guide you, building insights as you went along?
    • Was it a blend of both?
  3. Strategy
  1. Cases
    • Did you focus on a single in-depth case, or did you compare multiple instances?
  2. Analysis
    • Did you treat the entire case as a whole, or did you examine specific aspects within it separately?

Let’s break down the similarities and distinctions between case studies and project reports.

Case Studies

Project Reports

Key Differences

FeatureCase StudyProject Report
ScopeFocused on a specific situation or eventCovers the entire project lifecycle
DepthDeep analysis of contributing factors and outcomesDetailed but less focus on deep contextual analysis
PurposeIllustrate, explore, marketAccountability, evaluation, knowledge transfer


Title: Unlocking the Power of Case Studies: A Comprehensive Guide


Case studies are a powerful research method that allows for an in-depth exploration of a particular phenomenon, event, or organization. They provide a rich and detailed understanding of real-world situations, making them invaluable tools for researchers, professionals, and students alike. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the essence of case studies, their applications, and the best practices for conducting effective case study research.

What is a Case Study?

A case study is a qualitative research approach that involves an intensive analysis of a single unit or multiple units, such as an individual, group, event, or organization. It aims to uncover the underlying complexities, dynamics, and interrelationships within a specific context. Case studies are typically exploratory in nature, allowing researchers to gain a holistic and nuanced understanding of the subject under investigation.

Types of Case Studies:

  1. Explanatory Case Studies: These studies seek to explain the reasons behind a particular phenomenon or event, often by examining causal links and underlying mechanisms.
  2. Descriptive Case Studies: As the name implies, descriptive case studies provide a detailed account and description of a specific situation or phenomenon, without necessarily delving into causality or analysis.
  3. Exploratory Case Studies: Exploratory case studies are used to gain insights and generate hypotheses about a poorly understood or unexplored phenomenon, laying the groundwork for future research.
  4. Intrinsic Case Studies: These studies focus on a unique or atypical case that is inherently interesting, with the primary goal being to understand the case itself rather than generalize findings.
  5. Instrumental Case Studies: In contrast, instrumental case studies use a particular case to provide insights into a broader issue or theory, with the case serving as a tool to facilitate understanding.
  6. Multiple Case Studies: As the name suggests, multiple case studies involve the examination of several cases simultaneously, allowing for comparisons and the identification of patterns or similarities across different contexts.

Conducting Case Study Research:

  1. Defining the Research Question: The first step in conducting a case study is to clearly define the research question or objectives, which will guide the entire research process.
  2. Selecting the Case(s): Case selection is crucial and should be based on specific criteria, such as typicality, uniqueness, or accessibility. Researchers may choose to study a single case (holistic approach) or multiple cases (embedded approach).
  3. Data Collection: Case studies typically involve multiple data collection methods, including interviews, observations, document analysis, and archival records. Triangulation, the use of multiple data sources, is essential to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.
  4. Data Analysis: Qualitative data analysis techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, or pattern matching, are commonly used to identify themes, patterns, and relationships within the case study data.
  5. Reporting and Dissemination: The final step involves presenting the case study findings in a clear and compelling manner, often through detailed narratives, visual representations, and discussions of theoretical and practical implications.

Applications of Case Studies:

Case studies have a wide range of applications across various disciplines and industries, including:

  1. Business and Management: Case studies are widely used in business schools and organizations to analyze real-world scenarios, develop problem-solving skills, and inform decision-making processes.
  2. Education: Educational researchers utilize case studies to explore instructional approaches, classroom dynamics, and student learning experiences, contributing to the development of effective teaching practices.
  3. Psychology and Social Sciences: Case studies are valuable tools for understanding human behavior, social interactions, and individual experiences, providing insights into complex psychological and sociological phenomena.
  4. Healthcare: Medical case studies are used to document rare or unique medical conditions, evaluate treatment approaches, and contribute to the advancement of medical knowledge and practice.
  5. Policy and Program Evaluation: Case studies can be employed to assess the effectiveness of policies, programs, or interventions, informing decision-makers and stakeholders about potential improvements or modifications.

Advantages and Limitations of Case Studies:



Ethical Considerations:

When conducting case study research, it is crucial to adhere to ethical principles and guidelines, such as obtaining informed consent, maintaining confidentiality and anonymity, and respecting the rights and well-being of participants. Researchers should also be transparent about their methods, assumptions, and potential biases to ensure the credibility and trustworthiness of their findings.


Case studies offer a powerful approach to understanding complex phenomena in their real-world contexts. By combining multiple data sources and employing rigorous analytical techniques, researchers can uncover valuable insights and contribute to theory development, policy formulation, and practical decision-making. However, it is essential to recognize the limitations of case study research and address them through careful planning, execution, and adherence to ethical principles. Ultimately, case studies provide a rich and nuanced perspective that complements and enhances other research methods, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the world around us.