Bedford Bits Welcomes Grammar Girl: How to Write a Case Study in 5 Steps

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Bedford Bits and Grammar Girl are no strangers to each other. In fact, check out all of these posts that incorporate Grammar Girl into their teaching tips:

Now Bedford/St. Martin's and Grammar Girl have teamed up even more. Grammar Girl podcasts are now available in LaunchPads and Writer's Help 2.0 for new English titles. Students can access these podcasts on grammar, usage, and style on the go as an accessory to learning in their writing courses. Click on the links below to see walk-throughs of the media offerings for the following titles, which all include the Grammar Girl podcasts.

In addition to podcasts, the Grammar Girl blog makes a great accessory to the podcasts and textbook. Assign the content to your students when it supports an assignment, or have them analyze the website design or rhetorical strategy Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl) uses in these posts to educate writers. 

The following blog post on writing a case study could work well if you're taking a writing in the disciplines or writing across the curriculum approach, if students will be writing papers for the social sciences. Or, perhaps you're teaching illustration or exemplification. Or primary research. Maybe all of the above.

How to Write a Case Study in 5 Steps

Five simple steps designed to take you from your pre-writing preparation all the way through to submitting your case study

By Varsity Tutors, as read by Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl 


Writing a case study for a college course can be a challenge. Although there are different types of case studies, you can count on two things to remain the same—they require analytical thinking skills and a great deal of research.

When composing a case study, you’ll likely be asked to explain a problem or situation and to then illustrate a potential or implemented solution. You should generally include these basic elements:

  • An explanation of the problem or situation being analyzed.
  • A description of the solution (or proposed solution) and its implementation.
  • A summary of the results and an analysis of the effectiveness of the solution.

The five steps that appear below are designed to take you from your pre-writing preparation all the way through to submitting your case study.

How Do You Write a Case Study?

  1. Conduct Research
  2. Begin By Summarizing the Situation and Why It Is Important
  3. Detail the Solution That Was Implemented
  4. Analyze the Results of the Solution
  5. Cite Any Source Material

1. Conduct Research

A case study is analytical in nature and can require plenty of research. This means that a large portion of the work is done before you start writing your study. Your case study should tell the story of your case from beginning to end, so you will need a thorough understanding of the different factors at play.

Say you plan to write about a city that was successful in reducing excess waste, specifically through recycling. Your first step will be to gather relevant information about the situation. For example, you may investigate the following topics:

  • What are the laws or policies related to this scenario, and when were they put in place? Have they affected the situation positively or negatively?
  • What are the important data points in both current and historical terms?
  • What have city officials and other influential figures said about the situation?

Depending on how in-depth your assignment is, you might rely on articles, other case studies, or even interviews with people. Gathering as much information as you can will help you analyze why the solution worked or did not work.

2. Begin Your Case Study By Summarizing the Situation and Why It Is Important

What are the conflicts or risks in the given scenario? Ensure you clearly lay out the basic facts of the problem or situation being addressed so the reader will understand why the solution was needed. This is where the statistics you gathered will help supplement your explanation, and you can describe the context of the situation either historically or in comparison to other similar situations.

3. Detail the Solution That Was Implemented

Describe changes in strategy or the laws of the city or state that aimed to reduce the problem. Include context for when and how the changes occurred: what was the process, and who were the main players?

Also make sure to include information on the time or cost involved in implementing the solution. And, if there were complicating factors, don’t leave those out. Explaining how unexpected complications were handled can also be important.

4. Analyze the Results of the Solution

Did it have the intended effect on the situation? If the solution could be a model for similar cases, explain the wider usefulness of understanding its impact. If the results were mixed or created results different from what was expected, what were the factors affecting that outcome? How could a more effective solution be found?

5. Cite Any Source Material

In a reference list at the end of your case study, it is vital to cite any source material you used in your writing. This includes articles, books, other case studies referenced, or any people you may have interviewed to gather information. Keep track throughout the research and writing process of all resources used—you will thank yourself later.

Lora Wegman is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

SOURCE: The original post for Grammar Girl can be found at Quick and Dirty Tips: How to Write a Case Study in 5 Easy Steps 

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About the Author
I am a development editor for English, focusing on readers and literature titles. I graduated with degrees in English from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (M.A.) and the University of Mississippi (B.A.). Before landing at Bedford/St. Martin's, I taught as a part-time lecturer, adjunct, and writing center tutor at UT-Knoxville, Pellissippi State Community College, and Roane State Community College.