Why was this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem. What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow.
If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the research problem.
Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem. Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.
Literature Review The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. This includes synthesizing studies that help to: Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated.
This would include summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e. Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable. Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to study the research problem and the underlying research questions.
Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study. If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction. Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies. This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research. Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research. Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill.
Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do. Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!
Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in the context of explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.
Method In this section, you explain why you selected a particular subject of analysis to study and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem.
The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that frames your case study. If your subject of analysis is an incident or event.
In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings.
The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis.
Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis.
For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events.
If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experience he or she has had that provides an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem.
It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem. If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.
It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e. If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question.
In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system.
For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. How did x alter the outcome of y? Also, such a question is too broad for a focused research paper. You could not in a single paper analyze all of the effects of war on the development of an entire country.
Develop a research design To do this you must think through what you need to know in order to answer your research question. What specific data would be helpful in answering your question?
Which actors are involved? Where will you get the data you need? Develop a thesis You must offer a thesis in the introduction of your paper. After researching your material, you will answer your research question. The answer to your research question will form the basis of your thesis. The thesis is the argument that you will make in your paper. Presenting your answer to the research question is the reason why you write the paper. You write the paper to convince your reader that your answer is correct.
You must provide the reader with evidence you discovered in your research to persuade the reader that your answer is correct. You must anticipate alternative answers to your question and refute them. You must explain why your answer is better. Make proper citations for all data used in the paper. All papers must have references and a bibliography. Follow the citation style used in the American Political Science Review. The APSR is the preeminent journal for political scientists.
You will see that the APSR uses parenthetical references to the author and the date in the body of the text. Then the complete citation for each reference is listed in alphabetical order in the bibliography. Introduction State the core question; Tell the reader the significance of the question; Provide a brief version of your answer to the question; Provide an overview of the rest of the paper.
Include consideration of the broader literature that addresses your subject. Address your method for approaching the question. Case Study or Case Studies Apply the theoretical framework to one or more cases. This could involve multiple separate major sections of a research paper. Summarize your core argument and findings.
Discuss the broader implications or prospects for future research. Policy Papers One purpose of a policy paper is to make a prescription for future policies. The following is an example of how to structure such a paper. Criteria and Goals for the Policy Provide clear and measurable criteria for assessing the success of a policy choice.
Make proper citations for all data used in the paper. One caveat Eckstein offers on heuristic case studies is that they often produce too much—multiple explanations, too many variables, and a resulting complexity of interactions that are not only unwieldy but make generalization impossible. You must do the work for your paper. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a single case study design. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East.
Develop a research design To do this you must think through what you need to know in order to answer your research question. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Additionally he identifies the importance of valuing the context of research findings as more important perhaps than their generalizability, and he gently suggests that King et al. Below you will find an example of plagiarism that you must not repeat.
In comparative case studies, this issue is particularly relevant because small-N studies suggest that there exists more than one unique example of what is being examined and therefore a larger population to choose from. Before he makes his argument for the value of case study to theory building, Eckstein provides valuable definitions of case study by emphasizing the concentrated, yet flexible, aspect of an investigation into a single event or individual. They include hypothesis-generating cases in areas in which no established theory exists; theory-confirming and -informing cases, both of which test existing theories; and deviant case analysis, for cases known to have varied from the expectations predicted by theory. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation.