8 Tips For Writing a Strong Case Study

A case study is far harder for the typical student to write than any other style of research paper. It must be written in a narrative structure, yet possess a strong theoretical orientation. It must humanize the subject, but not provide identifying information about them. Finally, it must interest the reader without seeming exploitative or cheap. This is a massive challenge. Here are eight tips for writing a high quality case study paper.

  1. Humanize the Client
  2. Make sure to portray the client in a fully developed, multifaceted way. Refer to them using language that is respectful. Add some details that allow the reader to see him or her as a person with many traits, not just the victim of a disorder.

  3. Never Forget Theory
  4. As you develop your case study, remind the reader of the theory that drives your work. Use the proper academic jargon to refer to the phenomena you witness. Cite previous work that found similar results.

  5. Tell a Story
  6. A case study is far more interesting if it is written in a chronological, story-like format. Do not list off facts in a dry fashion that provides the reader no context. Instead, begin prior to your involvement with the client, describe the course of their disorder, and make yourself (or their therapist) just another character in the overall tale.

  7. Change Identifying Information
  8. You must respect your client’s anonymity and respect their humanity. So while you should include personal information to humanize and respect the client, you should also change some background or demographic information so no one will recognize who the client is. Change their name, the area they live in, switch the genders of their children, or change the details of their job.

  9. Exclude Irrelevant Details
  10. A case study is a rich source of information. However, you should exclude any details that complicate the narrative. If your client has other struggles not relevant to their disorder or treatment, you may consider not discussing it in the paper. If there is something going on with the client’s family, there may not be space in the paper to discuss it at length.

  11. Admit Your Own Involvement
  12. A case study is not an objective body of research. You are not just an observer of the client and his or her progress; you are also an active participant. If you are the therapist, admit it. If you interact with the client, say so.

  13. Be Open Minded About Results
  14. If your results contradict your predictions, do not try to rewrite the paper to ‘fix’ it. Be open to new ideas.

  15. Admit Failures or Faults
  16. If you made a mistake in the course of the client’s treatment, this should be mentioned. A case study should be an authentic, humane presentation of actual results.