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Case Study Definition Example Of Prose

All right, we're on air.

>> Hi, welcome everybody I'm Denise Comer from Duke University and

this a live Google writing workshop affiliated with a MOOC.

A massive open online course called

English Composition One: Achieving Expertise, and

I'm delighted to be participating in this workshop with three people today.

Can you introduce yourselves and where you are joining from?

>> My name is John Miller and I'm joining from Fairfield,

Iowa, southeast corner of Iowa.

>> Hi, John.

>> Hi. >> Hi, I'm Brenda Thomas and

I'm joining from Minnesota, so I'm not too far from John.

>> Nice, I was just there yesterday.

>> Cool.

>> And I'm Genevieve Lipp and I am core staff.

I am also here at Duke University.

>> Okay, great.

So we are a workshopping John Miller's draft of his

project two case study, and those of you who are watching either live or

later can access the draft in the forum that was for

the writing workshop volunteers and Brenda who's one of our fantastic CTAs.

Thank you to all the CTAs out there who helped the course run, and

Genevieve, our fantastic staff person, and thank you for

all the staff who helped the course run too.

I wanted to remind us of the criteria for

a project to a case study before we get started.

So we can think about those as kind of grounding points for our feedback to John.

And so I'm reading these right now.

They're available in the writing projects and peer feedback menu item.

An excellent project will meet the following criteria.

Showing that you can present the case study thoroughly.

Conduct research and evaluate sources,

effectively use the case study to support and develop your own arguments,

integrate evidence, employ scholarly conventions, organize the essay clearly.

Develop paragraphs with paragraph unity, create effective introductions and

conclusions and revise deeply and then have an effective title, which is a lot to

accomplish in a writing assignment but we'll do the best that we can.

I'm really excited because we get to kind of model

one on one writing consultation where John

will get the benefit of feedback from the three of us today on his writing.

>> Right, that's wonderful.

>> Yeah.

So John, what I think I'm going to do is turn to you and ask you first to share

with us what aspects of the draft you'd especially like feedback on.

As writers, we always know kind of what's giving us pause or

what's giving us difficulty.

And then I'm going to have you, ask you to read it aloud.

Reading aloud is a really important step in the drafting and

revision process because as writers, we can hear things differently when

we verbalize them than when we're actually reading them.

So, John, what would you like feedback on?

>> I received critical feedback in the past on my

writing lacking descriptive details.

As I remember, it referred to sensory details and

emotive feelings type of details, so

that the essays come across as

a bit superficial because of that.

So I'm especially, I've been practicing unifying sentences

between paragraphs and such, but I think I need some help on the content.

And this one is about my own experiences, and I would like to know,

do I interject adequate details about those experiences?

Or should I have been more specific, like I say with more terms

about feelings present at the time, that kind of a thing?

>> Okay.

>> Examples to illustrate, you know what I'm talking about?

>> Okay, great, thank you.

And I'm so glad that you're thinking about yourself,

in terms of like your progress as a writer, that this project is

just one element of your overarching progress as work as a writer.

So, that's really great, thank you.

Okay, so whenever you're ready go ahead and read and

then we'll give you feedback after you read.

>> Okay. I chose the title A Long Journey Home.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young famously sang of getting back to the land

to set their souls free in their classic cover of Joni Mitchell's song, Woodstock.

The wife of a veteran participant in a farming program called Archie's Acres,

Colin Archipley, the founder, near Escondido,

California reported similar results with her husband's experiences.

She said they gave him his balance back.

Another veteran in their program said, quote, one thing I've noticed about

agriculture is that you become a creator, rather than a destroyer, end quote.

Yet another veteran characterized such programs as quote, very therapeutic.

Working with plants and soil really helped me connect, not only to myself, but

also the environment around me, end quote.

These programs serve three purposes.

Giving vets a career path and helping them cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,

PTSD, while providing food for all Americans.

It is characterized by a group of symptoms, following exposure to

a traumatic event, such as war, natural disaster, or violence.

Should I mention the sources for those?

Anyway, that's from a book written in 2005.

>> Okay.

>> These symptoms include numbness or absence of emotional responsiveness,

difficulty recalling an important part of a trauma.

Experience of flashback or a return to a vivid sense of the trauma, avoidance

to stimuli that we call the trauma and irritable mood or sleep difficulties.

Following my own military duty I too chose farming, but

I coupled it with something else.

My duty refereeing interracial arguments, facilitating role play,

showing videos of racial violence, and receiving participants'

stories of it became so personally damaging after 16 months.

It led years later to a non combat post traumatic stress disorder diagnosis.

Typically, this leads to experiencing symptoms of flashback,

avoidance numbing, [INAUDIBLE] response, and especially for me deep anger.

One evening after class I experienced a frightening impulse.

I told my supervisor that I needed to get out of that duty or

else return home a basket case.

Unknown to me he was a Transcendental Meditation practitioner and

suggested that I learn meditation from a different program on base.

I did so, learning a yoga based alternative to TM, and

finding it so helpful that I was able to remain in my duty there.

When I returned home in 1974, I intuited that what I needed most in addition to

practicing meditation Was to get back to the land of my childhood,

I called my uncle and asked if I might work on his farm,

where I had enjoyed many youthful visit, needless to say,

he felt delighted, especially when I offered to work only for room and board.

The three seasons of work that I performed there, plowing, planting, disking,

feeding hogs, cleaning their pens, while enjoying some spectacular sunsets,

it is just what Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sang about.

Playing with the mother cat's litter, I stayed above photo but

I [INAUDIBLE] provided a delightful bonus to my foreign


A stark contrast to my military experiences of vicarious

violence, we witness such young, tender life on the farm,

truly was a precious experience, coupled with the growth of farm crops and

my personal growth in meditation, it all set my soul free.

To quote Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,

back then on the farm I recorded some favorite moments [INAUDIBLE] freedom,

on October 15th, 1975, I'll quote, fall is such a special time of the year, why?

Perhaps because while I was chisel plowing as the sun set near the grove,

I became aware of the mystery of things dying, being covered,

going to an unknown place but it's a peaceful resting place, end quote.

It suggests to me now the depth of my need then for such a rest, and

I characterized a private meditation then as quote,

like a softness enveloping my mind, end quote.

Oft as the fur of the farm kitties, again, revealing what I needed then,

the long journey home continued over many years as I wrestled

with lingering symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder,

occasional unpleasant dreams, depression, violent impulses, anger and rage.

In truth, Vietnam veterans harbor the deepest feelings of anger,

of all veterans, according to one researcher, Collins, 2008.

I found myself at times with images of violent impulses, and

as I would complete the meditation session, perhaps the depth of the session

itself drew out on these such areas, troubles and feelings, I don't know.

Through sessions with many therapists, I gradually coped, it wasn't until 2011

though, that all my symptoms went, quote, off the radar screen, end quote.

As I learned TM itself while in residence in Maharashi University

of Management in Iowa, I'm not sure what it was about TM that

helped in a different manner than my prior meditation, perhaps,

the advanced method that I that I've learned there called and

Yogic flying worked on a deeper level or

maybe it has been the subtle influence of living in a community of 2,000

meditators that brought the depth of transcendence which I needed.

At any rate, strong impulses of anger and

of lashing out no longer trouble me, thus the title of this essay,

The Long Journey Home, it's taken 37 years to experience the above freedom,

unfortunately, I didn't put a copyright on my whole farming and

meditation experience, kidding in parentheses.

Now veteran farmer programs are cropping up all over,

although they aren't usually coupled with meditation,

in addition to my personal experience as noted,

and in the above evidence regarding veterans and farming,

a five-year study of TM as a treatment regimen for PTSD is underway in San Diego.

Under the leadership of Doctor Sandy Nidich,

it will compare TM with exposure therapy as interventions for PTSD veterans,

favorable results will bode well for the future of veteran farmer

programs who choose to employ TM with farming as tools for recovery,

there may be a bright future for returning veterans with PTSD and

their journey home may be much shorter than mine has been.

>> Okay, thank you, so we can, thank you for reading,

we'll start giving you feedback, I'll turn to Brenda or

Genevieve first, what are your thoughts?

I can start in, let's see, Hugh, I thought you gave good details,

you were saying you had gotten feedback before that you didn't

have enough specific details, I thought you gave a good definition,

specially in explaining post traumatic stress disorder and the symptoms there.

>> Good, okay.

>> Also in, let's see, maybe you could give more details about

Maharishi University, now of course I have heard of that place before,

and had many times had seen the sign off, I-35, but

a lot of other people who haven't ever lived in Iowa,

which I lived there for over 20 years, aren't familiar with it,

with that place, so maybe a few more details about the university.

>> Sure.

>> I'll just interject for a second while we're talking about the details,

I agree with what Brenda has said, I felt like you had Strong sensory details.

You had an example of the moment when you went to your supervisor and

you said you didn't think you could remain on duty any more and

that was a good detail to include and the evidence from your personal journal too,

added kind of sensory description to it and I also noted that,

the Maharishi, am I pronouncing it right?

>> Yes. >> Okay, that Maharishi University would

be an opportunity for you to add some more details, and also,

a few more definition about Transcendental Meditation too, in the same way

that you define PTSD earlier, if you could do that for TM too that would be great.

>> Okay, thank you.

>> Oh, and just I was also curious about what kind of crops were on the farm that

you, I sure you could add that detail too.

>> Okay.

>> Brenda, go ahead please continue.

>> Well I'll piggy back off something you just said Dr.

Comer about his journal and I'll bring it up just to get your

feedback on it because he's quoting and citing himself and

I assume the journal maybe was not ever published and so

I don't even know if it's necessary, Dr. Comer

to actually say that you're quoting yourself or citing yourself.

I was just in a conversation actually on this topic with some college

instructors just this week, and they were talking about this very thing of,

if you've written something else and

you're using it in a new place, should you cite it?

You can quote, I mean you can just say Here's what I journaled in 1975,

rather than going through the whole proper reference in society and

I'd be interested in what Dr. Comer has to say about that.

>> Thank you for raising that question.

And I think it is important to quote it and cite it because for several reasons.

First of all, if you had published this journal, which you have not,

but let's just get that part out of the way first.

Anything that you have published, even if it's your own words needs to

be cited as an actual reference in whatever new writing.

And to not do so is defined in US academic writing practices as plagiarism.

So even if it's your own words,

you're supposed to cite something that was published before.

Now in this case, John you're using, and you all can call me Denise, please.

[LAUGH] John, you're using your journal as evidence for an argument.

And because you're using it as evidence for an argument,

I would say it's all the more important to show that it's actually a text

in the same way that other forms of evidence would count.

So you're kind of like, emboldening that evidence by using it as a text.

And so in that sense it helps to cite it because it becomes an actual like,

evidentiary item, rather than just stuff you thought about, right,

which had like a little less weight to it.

So MLA, if you go to some of the resources for.

You're using, well, you're not using MLA citation, you're using APA citation.

Is that right? >> Correct, yes.

>> Okay, so, if you to the resources for APA citation,

there should be guidelines for how to cite unpublished manuscripts, which-

>> Oh, okay.

>> And you might have done it correctly.

I don't have them in front of me, the guidelines, but

that's what it's called is an unpublished manuscript, and

that's what you would use for your citation, and I also, Brenda,

your question also raises the issue of personal evidence in scholarly writing.

And I think depending on the disciplinary contexts and the writing project itself,

the appropriateness for personal evidence is going to vary widely.

In this case, for this assignment, for the argument that you're making, John,

I think the use of personal evidence is not only valid, but really important for

your argument.

And so I'm glad you're using it and I'm glad, like I said,

that you're using it as actual evidence in the form of quotes and

citation rather than just paraphrasing what it is you thought or went through.

Which would be okay too, but I think this is more powerful and

effective as an argument.

>> Good, okay thank you.

I have a question about the feedback from you and oops, I forgot her name.

Miss Thomas, I forgot her first name.

>> Brenda, mm-hm.

>> Brenda.

And, for example, when I wrote

that I experienced an alarming impulse,

I think it was, and I went to my supervisor, the impulse was

actually when I was having dinner in a restaurant in Thailand, off base.

I think it was an impulse to stab myself with a steak knife, which was

terribly alarming, of course, but it told me the depth

of my need to address this issue of how stressful the job had become.

Would that kind of detail

be useful to include in the essay or is that too personal?

Would be a question.

>> I'm going to let Brenda and Genevieve weigh in first, and

then I'll share my thoughts, too.

Genevieve, what do you think?

>> Goodness, I think if you're writing about a topic as serious as PTSD,

it's okay to include really serious affecting visceral personal details.

That setting makes it harder to read so consider your audience.

But if your audience are adult readers who are up for the challenge and

want to understand what that's really like then your own personal experience

Is all the more valuable if you include details like that, I think.

>> Okay.

>> Brenda?

>> Yeah, I would agree with Genevieve and

part of that also is what you're comfortable sharing about yourself.

And I'll join that with what Denise was saying, that yeah,

you don't see a lot of I think this or I view this in case studies.

But since you are the case study [LAUGH] Technically,

then the I is very effective in your case study, I think.

Because, you are the evidence and you are the case study.

>> Right. >> And I personally,

I think you have enough detail about your PTSD.

But if you want to go into more, I mean, you certainly could.

That one paragraph where you are detailing when you got your diagnosis,

I got a little confused at the chronology, because at the start of paragraph,

when you said following my own military duty, I was expecting of

the paragraph to be about when you were done with military duty.

>> Oh.

>> But then you jumped right in to talking about why you were still in military duty.

It was just my confusion, but I caught up later to what you were doing.

>> Yeah.

>> It was the chronology was a little confusing to me.

>> Okay, right, that is, I see what you're saying.

I'll have to rework that.

>> I agree. I think if you're willing to reveal that

level of depth of personal experience and

taking the audience into consideration that it's appropriate for

the context of the writing assignment which in this case these are adults and

maybe you're trying to seems like you're trying to reach.

Based on your conclusion it seems like you're trying to reach readers to either

maybe experiencing PTSD, or perhaps at risk of experiencing it later in their

lives, or those working to help support and mitigate the impact of PTSD.

So for all of those readers, it seems to me that adding more description

about specific kinds of impulses such as you are as right,

would be helpful in illustrating your point.

Okay, thank you, that's good to know.

>> And I do want to piggyback on what Brenda noted about the chronology.

Because I thought that for several of the paragraphs,

the first sentence of each paragraph, that transition sentence, you might be

able to strengthen that in terms of connecting from one paragraph to another.

So readers can really follow and so follow the trajectory of your arguments,

so I'll give you an example of a few- >> Yeah, that's great.

>> Such moments.

She pointed out the following, my own military duty, but if you're starting

with the Crosby Stills Nash & Young song, I was actually going to suggest

that you maybe think about having a quote from some lyrics quoted at the beginning

at the top as a way of further emphasizing that, and then you can describe it.

But then in paragraph two, you write,

a wife of a veteran participant in a farming program called Archi's Acres,

near Escondido, California, reported similar results.

And All of that information is great, but I wanted to point out to you that

you're making your readers wait for, I don't know how many words,

12 or 13 words before we're connecting it to the prior paragraph.

And in the world of a reader, that's a long time, and so my brain at

that moment was thinking, what connection is he making between the CS and why?

>> Uh-huh.

>> So you want to just have the kind of the transition the old information

the connecting information sooner at the beginning of a sentence rather than later

>> Okay.

>> And so an example of a moment where you effectively accomplished

a transition would be when you say, when I returned home in 1974,

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study. The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  1. What was I studying? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

II.  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. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address. 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.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • 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.

III.  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 of a rare or critical event or 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." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: when did it take place; what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; what were the consequences of the event

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. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of his/her experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using him or her as the subject for a case study research paper. 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.g., physical, social, cultural, economic, political, etc.], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, why study Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?] and, if applicable, what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [prior research reveals Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

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. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks from overseas reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:  Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should be linked to the findings from the literature review. Be sure to cite any prior studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for investigating the research problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is more common to combine a description of the findings with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings
Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important
Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies
No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps to support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings
It is important to remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations for the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations
You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here.

Suggest Areas for Further Research
Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. 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.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and needs for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1)  restate the main argument supported by the findings from the analysis of your case; 2) clearly state the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  1. If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  2. If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  3. Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in and your professor's preferences, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented applied to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were on social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations
No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood differently than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications
Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your entire analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education. Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design, Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice. London: SAGE Publications, 2009; Kratochwill, Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors.Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education. Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

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