Case Study




What is a case study?

A case study is a detailed look at a particular event or subject. The reasons to do case studies are to gain a greater depth of understanding of the causes and effects of the situation. Some examples of some case studies are, the challenger investigation and report, the tacoma narrows bridge case study and the Ford Pinto case study.

Why are case studies important?

Types of case studies

  • Personal perspective
  • Group perspective
  • Success stories
  • Problem-positive resolution
  • Problem-unresolved/negative outcome
  • Illustrative cases
  • Exploratory cases
  • Cumulative cases
  • Critical instance cases

Elements of a case study

  • Audience
  • Problem
  • Objectives
  • Introduction
  • Mission/goals/objectives
  • People/roles
  • History/background
  • Questions
  • Barriers/challenges
  • Feedback

Case study writing tips

Tell a Story

Write your case study in a style and about a subject that relates to the experience of your audience

Create Empathy with the Central Characters

These are real people, and their personal attributes will influence what happens in the study. Therefore, it is imperative that these attributes are conveyed to the audience, and it will make the story line more engaging as well.

Include Quotations

The best way to gain empathy for characters is to literally hear them speak. In text, the closest thing to this possibility is to create quotations. Essentially, this allows characters to more effectively:

  • Express opinions
  • State important issues
  • Express personal beliefs
  • Establish character
  • Express differences of opinion
  • Increase believability

Make the Case Relevant to Your Audience

Know your audience, write your case on a situation that said audience is likely to face.

Keep it Short

It is much easier to hold someones attention for a few paragraphs than several pages. Be honest, your study is probably not interesting enough to write a book on, so don't try.

Links to other case ctudies


Mechanical Engineering
Writing Tips
  • What is a Case? Definitions and some examples. Penn State
  • Writing a Case: Case Parts, Scenario & Problem, Define the Output, Style Thoughts, References. Penn State
  • Student tipsfor solving case problems. Penn State




Public Policy

The ship yard visit and conference calls

Our group was picked up at the hotel early in the morning. There were other people like us waiting at the hotel for shipyard vans. The shipyard was job interviewing people. We all went through shipyard security together, which to my surprise was much easier than I expected. I though I would have problem with my ID. I have an old copy of my birth certificate with a notarized seal that can barely be seen. After the ID check, all the groups toured the aircraft carrier Constitution; the ship was being gutted in preparation for submarine target practice. After the aircraft carrier tour, my group went and viewed our project. There were some important, unforeseen problems that were not determined from our earlier conference calls; these problems came up through physically seeing the project. After the project tour the groups went on another aircraft carrier in dry-dock, then we went to lunch, then we toured the machine shop. After the tours we met with the project director. Up until this meeting with project director, I did not know if we were being prepared for a job interview or given group project instructions. At the meeting with the project director the mood quickly changed, it was all project business. A lot of the original design specs were ruled out; especially the 12 year requirement without servicing to the equipment inside the tank. A proposal was tabled to build a mock-up model that would give the shipyard a heads- up on a future remote controlled tank wash down equipment. This equipment would be purchase from a vender at a later date, and constructed like our model with the original specs that the shipyard requires. The project director emphasized the important of the group building a working model; not only to benefit the shipyard but our selves as well. He did not like the idea of the group purchasing an already existing tank cleaning equipment from a vender. After this meeting I felt we should have been at these position months before. All the conference calls did not achieve what this 1 hour meeting had accomplished with the shipyards project director, this man new how to give our group some direction. I know conference calls have a big technical advantage in business today; if they weren’t, companies like Boeing wouldn’t be so concerned over this technology. Airplane companies are afraid of losing passengers from conference calls; flying to business meetings makes up a large part of airlines' profits. The problem with our conference calls is there aren’t any communication experts informing us on conference call protocol. This could be a good business to get into; a service that coaches engineering companies in getting the most out of conference calling and video conferencing. The communication techs would need to be a movie director, know the engineering business as well as communication technology and the ability to get the most out of the conference to benefit their engineering customer.

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