Keys to Academic Success: How to Approach Case Studies


256px-Leather_NotepadLast week I talked about essay structure and gave a few handy tips about how to write convincing arguments. While argumentative essays are a significant part of assessment, there is also another form of written assignment worthy of particular attention: the Case Study. Case studies are fairly common in disciplines such as Business, Accounting, Social Sciences and Psychology. It is, therefore, important to be aware of their particular dynamics, so as to be able to manage them effectively and persuasively.

Case studies differ from essays in that they tend to deal with a specific event, person, company, or situation. Therefore, specialised background information about the situation in question, organisations and individuals involved, and precise facts and figures is integral to an effective case study. In order to assess situations and offer viable solutions, it is important to be in a position to differentiate between facts and opinions, whether informed or merely assumptions. Your emphasis is best placed on facts, so that you can identify problems successfully. This will help you formulate your objectives more clearly, and will lead to strategic suggestions about possible courses of action.

A significant part of your writing on case studies should address solutions, and these need to be based on practical considerations relevant to a particular situation. For example, if a case study is about a company, you should tailor your proposed course of action to the company’s actual status and potential.

When discussing solutions, it is also a good idea to consider available resources. You could also explore the impact of your suggestions, taking into account not only financial gain but also ethical and environmental concerns. You need to address both positive and negative aspects of your proposed plan, and provide lucid and persuasive evidence to support it.

While following some of the conventions of argumentative essay writing, case studies nonetheless constitute a separate writing task with distinctive requirements and structure. To successfully approach case studies, you should initially identify the problem, and then develop strategic alternatives. You subsequently need to evaluate these alternatives, and examine how they can be strategically developed. The next step is to make recommendations and follow your proposed course of action to the implementation stage, bringing your case study to an effective conclusion.

These brief guidelines can help you write a most successful case study that will impress your tutors and examiners!