This section provides some advice on the process of writing up your report.
Plan the report
Before you begin to write the report, it is essential to have a plan of its structure. You can begin to plan the report while you are investigating the case.
Fist, prepare an outline (in list or mind-map format) of the main headings and subheadings you will have in the report. Then add notes and ideas to the outline which remind you of what you want to achieve in each section and subsection. Use the outline to help you consider what information to include, where it should go and in what sequence. Be prepared to change your outline as your ideas develop. Finally, the outline headings and subheadings can be converted into the contents page of your report.
Schedule your writing time
Prepare a schedule for writing and editing the sections of the report. Allow some extra time just in case you find some sections difficult to write. Begin by writing the sections you feel most confident about. Preliminary sections (executive summary, introduction) and supplementary sections (conclusions, reference list and appendices) are usually prepared last. Some writers like to begin with their conclusions (where the writer's thoughts are at that moment) or the methodology (it's easier to write about your own work).
Analyse your audience
In writing a case study report in your course, the report is often intended for an imaginary person so you need to make sure that your language and style suites that person. For example, a report for senior management will be different in content and style and language to a technical report. A report to a community group would also be different again in content, style and language. Audience definition helps you decide what to include in the report based on what readers need to know to perform their jobs better or what the readers need to know to increase their knowledge about your subject. These notes on audience analysis are adapted from Huckin and Olsen (p1991)
*After: Huckin & Olsen ,1991.1.
- Who will read the report? Think about all the uses of the report and where and when it would be read. Reports written within an organisation may be read by different people and different departments; for example, technical and design specialists, supervisors, senior managers, lawyers, marketing and finance specialists.
- What are the readers' needs and goals? Each department or unit in an organisation has its own needs and goals. Understanding the different perspectives can help you decide how to communicate persuasively to these groups. For example while design engineers may prefer to develop new or alternative design to show progress in their field, the marketing specialist may prefer that the organisation imitate a known successful design to save time.
- How do I make communication clear for managers? Communication must be accessible and useful to busy managers as they will primarily seek important generalisations. This has implications for the report's structure, the amount of orientation or background information provided and the level of technical language used. An executive summary, introductions to new sections and concluding summaries for major sections should be included in the report.
- What might be the readers' preferences or objections to the report? You may need to address the significance and benefits/limitations of your recommendations from a number of readers' perspectives in the report. You may also need to consider compromises as a way to acknowledge potential conflicts or criticisms of your recommendations or solutions.
Prepare a draft report
Writers rarely produce a perfect piece of text in their first attempt so a number of drafts are usually produced. Careful planning and editing will ensure a consistent professional standard in the report. You will need to do the following:
- Revise the task often
Do this by keeping both the reader's needs and the report's objectives in mind as you gather information, take notes and write sections of the report.
Do this by taking clear notes, which include the information gathered and your thoughts about the usefulness and the implications of this information. Review your notes to decide what is essential information to include in the report.
- Create a logical structure
Use your contents page outline to decide where information will go. Within each section, plan the subheadings and then decide on the sequence of information within these.
Check that your writing flows and that your ideas are supported and plausible. If you are not sure what to look for, here are links to advice and activities on report organisation, cohesion and evidence.
Ensure that all your figures and tables communicate a clear message. Show a colleague your visuals to check how they will be interpreted or 'read'.
For first drafts, a word processor's spell checker and grammar checker can be useful however, do not rely solely on these tools in your final edit as they are not perfect. Errors will be overlooked or even created by these programs! The best ways to edit are to read a printed copy and where possible get a colleague to read and give feedback.
Here is a report checklist that you can print out: CHECKLIST
The process of writing a case study. The structure of the paper.
People who work in business, marketing, social sciences, legal, medical, engineering, academic, and many other fields quite often need to submit reports about a person, a group of people, or a situation that they have been studying over a certain period of time. Such a published report is called case study, and in order to write good case studies one should follow specific guidelines because they have a particular style and format.
Is There Any Difference between Essay and Case Study?
You might be already familiar with essay writing. Essays differ from case studies because they answer a certain question based on research through the author’s own evaluation. Reports, in turn, present and analyze findings from practical research. While reports are usually descriptive and describe sequential events such as experiments or results from surveys, essay can be descriptive, evaluative, and discursive. The type of the essay depends on the given questions.
Because case studies are educational for readers, they have to provide information as clear as possible. The structure of this writing should be as follows:
The title should give a very accurate description of a study. It has to be very effective because its function is to let readers know what the main focus of the study is.
Since it is not a scientific paper, the abstract in this writing does not have a structure, i.e. no subheadings of methodology, conclusions, etc. You need to give a background which has to outline, for instance, the clinical condition of the study under analysis. Then you need to provide relevant details and results of the study and give an overall conclusion. The final step is to give five key words.
In this section you need to provide a brief review of the published literature relevant to your subject. The best kind of articles to use here are other review articles and the first case that was described in the literature.
If you are working in the field of medicine, for example, in this part you write about your patient’s health issues, treatment, and laboratory results. All the data has to be presented in chronological order and in figures or tables. Research ethics is crucial: your patient cannot be identified anywhere in the study. If a photo is necessary, your patient has to sign a written consent. To publish your writing you have to contact the primary care physician and come to an agreement.
In this section one presents the case and the laboratory findings. An author’s job is to relate his/her findings to the previous studies and, in case they differ, make it clear what is the reason of this difference and what your scientific opinion is. The question you should answer here is why your paper is unique.
Make a summary of what you have learnt from your study. Do not repeat the case history; just give short and informative conclusions.
If there are people who have assisted you in your study but are not co-authors, make sure to acknowledge them.
You can use only reliable sources in this section such as peer-reviewed scholarly articles. Make sure that the entire reference is accurate according to the style – MLA, APA, etc.
Tables and Figures
If you have a lot of data that you cannot mention in the discussion section, put it to tables and figures and locate them in this section of your writing. Adding tables and photographs is a great strategic decision because it makes the writing more informative and comprehensible.
Are People Taught Case Study Writing?
This type of writing is rather popular in education system and quite often happens to be a student assignment. This project is very helpful in school/university because it allows students to apply their knowledge in practice. For example, students who take courses in psychotherapy or physiology can put themselves in the role of professionals and examine how certain method can be applied to the person in the story and how your case management and counseling skills can help the client.
Not only can students pay more attention to the development of their technical writing skills, but also they can demonstrate their individual approach to a specific issue. Although teaching how to write a case study requires a lot of time, students need training in this field because the process of the case study writing is complex. A good guide will help them learn how to use their analytical skills to make a better work. Besides, you can always mention this skill during the interview with the company you want to work for.
What Is the Case Study Method?
If you are a student in a law school or are planning to get your MBA, Harvard University has prepared a lot of extremely helpful tips on case study writing for current and prospective students. For instance, Harvard Law School presents the difference between case study method and case method. While the first method uses a narrative of a legal dilemma to showcase the principles of law, the second one uses a court decision for the same purpose. The case study method requires teamwork and discussion between the participants whereas the case method uses the discussion between professor and student. Finally, the case study method analyzes the dilemma in its developments while the second method analyzes it after it has been resolved.
Require academic assistance? – Get it right here and right now!