Before writing a case study analysis, it is important to identify a relevant subject and research problem. While preparing to write, the author should critically assess the potential problem and the need for in-depth analysis. For example, hidden problems, outdated information, or a feasible recommendation are all indications that a problem lends itself to a case study. The introduction should not only include a problem statement but should also note its importance, provide background information, supply a rationale for applying a case study method, and suggest potential advancement of knowledge in the given field.
The key purpose of the literature review in a case study analysis is to present the historical context of a problem and its background based on academic evidence. Synthesis of existing studies contributes to the subsequent substantial aspects that should be taken into account:
- Identify the context of the problem under consideration and locate related studies, showing the link between them. Each of the academic pieces used to write a case study should make a particular contribution to understanding or resolving the target problem.
- Connect all the studies together and provide a critical appraisal. One of the most common mistakes is to merely present existing evidence without any analysis or clarification of how one or another research investigation relates to the problem.
- Discover and discuss any gaps in the literature, demonstrating how the case study adds more value and credibility to the available evidence. For example, if the case study focuses on strategies used to promote feminism, it is possible to explore the gap of how this movement is developing in the Middle East, where it is not as evident as in Western countries.
- Identify conflicts and contradictory issues that can be found in the literature. This helps in coming closer to the resolution of the problem. If, for example, two different approaches are regarded as mutually exclusive in one study, and the same approaches are considered compatible in another, it is an evident conflict. A discussion of such contradictory issues should be placed in the case study to suggest feasible solutions.
- Locate the case study in the context of the literature and within the larger scale. More to the point, by synthesizing the pertinent literature and indicating the role of the case study, the researcher shows that he or she has made essential efforts toward addressing the problem.
In this section, it is important to clarify why a specific subject and problem were chosen for study. A range of subjects is possible, and the type chosen will impact how the method will be described. The key types of subjects include phenomena, places, persons, and events.
- The investigation of a phenomenon as a target of a case study implies that certain facts or circumstances exist and require change and improvement. The behavioral and social sciences often require the study of challenging issues such as the causes of high employee turnover or a low level of motivation on the part of managers. In such a case, cause-and-effect relationships should be established to evaluate the environment.
- If an accident or event composes the basis of the case study, its time and place will set the specifics of the research. A rare or critical event as well as any one of a number of common situations may be selected; in any case, a rationale should be provided to support the choice. As a rule, rare events require forging a new way of thinking regarding the occurrence, while dealing with a commonly encountered situation is associated with challenging existing hypotheses. In both types of cases, the following elements should be included in the case analysis: timeframe, circumstances, and consequences.
- A focus on a person as the subject of a study refers to scrutinizing the individual’s experience, relationships, and behaviors. For example, a discussion of Mark Zuckerberg as the creator of Facebook requires identifying the background, conflicts, and positive and negative consequences of his contributions to society.
- A place as the subject of a case study should be special, and it should be clear to readers why a particular area or neighborhood was chosen. What is, for example, the aim of focusing on China and Japan instead of the United States when exploring homelessness issues?
An important part of case study research or development in the field of the social and behavioral sciences involves discussing and interpreting findings. Therefore, after a thorough literature review, it is necessary to compare, reiterate, and revise the findings based on the experiences reported in previous studies along with the writer’s personal understanding of the subject studied.
- The discussion section may start with a brief summary of the findings that are of the greatest importance and particularly thought-provoking.
- The results should be assessed in terms of the hypothesis and objectives of the research. Briefly reiterating these, indicate whether the data obtained have confirmed the hypothesis, the goal has been achieved, and the research tasks have been addressed.
- The researcher should indicate how the findings are consistent with the conclusions of other researchers and theories described in the literature review. Comparing and contrasting the findings with the articles mentioned in the literature review will be beneficial as this will support the importance of the new study.
- To identify the possibilities and ways of applying the results to solve practical problems, recommendations for practical implementation should be as specific as possible and describe actions that organizations or individuals can take to put the findings into practice.
- The advantages of the research methodology used and the limitations of the generalization of the results obtained should be clarified. Such a discussion is especially necessary in a case study since it demonstrates an understanding of methodological nuances.
- It is advantageous to outline the prospects and suggestions for further research on the given problem to expand the scope of application of the results. It is also crucial to point out possible ways to improve the methodology and organization of a case study analysis.
In the conclusion, restating the key findings and noting their importance is essential to allow readers to understand the key points of the case study report. The conclusion should be written concisely, including a description of the problem and elaborating on solutions while presenting the expected future effect of the actions proposed for practical implementation. While the body of the case study paper focuses on details, the conclusion contains a generalized scope of the research problem. However, overgeneralization as well as failure to specify limitations should be avoided. Only the documentary evidence serves as a basis for assumptions, and the statement of limitations will help preclude unjustified conclusions.