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What Is a Case Study? | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on May 8, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on November 20, 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. Case studies are commonly used in social, educational, clinical, and business research.

A case study research design usually involves qualitative methods , but quantitative methods are sometimes also used. Case studies are good for describing , comparing, evaluating and understanding different aspects of a research problem .

Table of contents

When to do a case study, step 1: select a case, step 2: build a theoretical framework, step 3: collect your data, step 4: describe and analyze the case, other interesting articles.

A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.

Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation . They keep your project focused and manageable when you don’t have the time or resources to do large-scale research.

You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.

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a case study and model

Once you have developed your problem statement and research questions , you should be ready to choose the specific case that you want to focus on. A good case study should have the potential to:

  • Provide new or unexpected insights into the subject
  • Challenge or complicate existing assumptions and theories
  • Propose practical courses of action to resolve a problem
  • Open up new directions for future research

TipIf your research is more practical in nature and aims to simultaneously investigate an issue as you solve it, consider conducting action research instead.

Unlike quantitative or experimental research , a strong case study does not require a random or representative sample. In fact, case studies often deliberately focus on unusual, neglected, or outlying cases which may shed new light on the research problem.

Example of an outlying case studyIn the 1960s the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania was discovered to have extremely low rates of heart disease compared to the US average. It became an important case study for understanding previously neglected causes of heart disease.

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience or phenomenon.

Example of a representative case studyIn the 1920s, two sociologists used Muncie, Indiana as a case study of a typical American city that supposedly exemplified the changing culture of the US at the time.

While case studies focus more on concrete details than general theories, they should usually have some connection with theory in the field. This way the case study is not just an isolated description, but is integrated into existing knowledge about the topic. It might aim to:

  • Exemplify a theory by showing how it explains the case under investigation
  • Expand on a theory by uncovering new concepts and ideas that need to be incorporated
  • Challenge a theory by exploring an outlier case that doesn’t fit with established assumptions

To ensure that your analysis of the case has a solid academic grounding, you should conduct a literature review of sources related to the topic and develop a theoretical framework . This means identifying key concepts and theories to guide your analysis and interpretation.

There are many different research methods you can use to collect data on your subject. Case studies tend to focus on qualitative data using methods such as interviews , observations , and analysis of primary and secondary sources (e.g., newspaper articles, photographs, official records). Sometimes a case study will also collect quantitative data.

Example of a mixed methods case studyFor a case study of a wind farm development in a rural area, you could collect quantitative data on employment rates and business revenue, collect qualitative data on local people’s perceptions and experiences, and analyze local and national media coverage of the development.

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

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In writing up the case study, you need to bring together all the relevant aspects to give as complete a picture as possible of the subject.

How you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard scientific paper or thesis , with separate sections or chapters for the methods , results and discussion .

Others are written in a more narrative style, aiming to explore the case from various angles and analyze its meanings and implications (for example, by using textual analysis or discourse analysis ).

In all cases, though, make sure to give contextual details about the case, connect it back to the literature and theory, and discuss how it fits into wider patterns or debates.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Ecological validity

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

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  • Multiple Book Review Essay
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  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
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  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. 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. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

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 applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

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:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] 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.
  • Why is 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 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.

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 involve 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 investigate 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 use of a 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 relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] 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 constitutes 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." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide 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 their 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 them 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 [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

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, historical, cultural, economic, political], 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, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests 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 off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks 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:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the 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 analysis of the 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 common to combine a description of the results 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 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 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 revealed by 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 if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

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 any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly 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 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:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • 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.
  • 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 or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies 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

Overgeneralization 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 engaged with 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 more in terms of managing access rather 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 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 that leave the reader questioning the results.

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; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; 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.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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The case study approach

Sarah crowe.

1 Division of Primary Care, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

Kathrin Cresswell

2 Centre for Population Health Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Ann Robertson

3 School of Health in Social Science, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Anthony Avery

Aziz sheikh.

The case study approach allows in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complex issues in their real-life settings. The value of the case study approach is well recognised in the fields of business, law and policy, but somewhat less so in health services research. Based on our experiences of conducting several health-related case studies, we reflect on the different types of case study design, the specific research questions this approach can help answer, the data sources that tend to be used, and the particular advantages and disadvantages of employing this methodological approach. The paper concludes with key pointers to aid those designing and appraising proposals for conducting case study research, and a checklist to help readers assess the quality of case study reports.

Introduction

The case study approach is particularly useful to employ when there is a need to obtain an in-depth appreciation of an issue, event or phenomenon of interest, in its natural real-life context. Our aim in writing this piece is to provide insights into when to consider employing this approach and an overview of key methodological considerations in relation to the design, planning, analysis, interpretation and reporting of case studies.

The illustrative 'grand round', 'case report' and 'case series' have a long tradition in clinical practice and research. Presenting detailed critiques, typically of one or more patients, aims to provide insights into aspects of the clinical case and, in doing so, illustrate broader lessons that may be learnt. In research, the conceptually-related case study approach can be used, for example, to describe in detail a patient's episode of care, explore professional attitudes to and experiences of a new policy initiative or service development or more generally to 'investigate contemporary phenomena within its real-life context' [ 1 ]. Based on our experiences of conducting a range of case studies, we reflect on when to consider using this approach, discuss the key steps involved and illustrate, with examples, some of the practical challenges of attaining an in-depth understanding of a 'case' as an integrated whole. In keeping with previously published work, we acknowledge the importance of theory to underpin the design, selection, conduct and interpretation of case studies[ 2 ]. In so doing, we make passing reference to the different epistemological approaches used in case study research by key theoreticians and methodologists in this field of enquiry.

This paper is structured around the following main questions: What is a case study? What are case studies used for? How are case studies conducted? What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided? We draw in particular on four of our own recently published examples of case studies (see Tables ​ Tables1, 1 , ​ ,2, 2 , ​ ,3 3 and ​ and4) 4 ) and those of others to illustrate our discussion[ 3 - 7 ].

Example of a case study investigating the reasons for differences in recruitment rates of minority ethnic people in asthma research[ 3 ]

Example of a case study investigating the process of planning and implementing a service in Primary Care Organisations[ 4 ]

Example of a case study investigating the introduction of the electronic health records[ 5 ]

Example of a case study investigating the formal and informal ways students learn about patient safety[ 6 ]

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that is used to generate an in-depth, multi-faceted understanding of a complex issue in its real-life context. It is an established research design that is used extensively in a wide variety of disciplines, particularly in the social sciences. A case study can be defined in a variety of ways (Table ​ (Table5), 5 ), the central tenet being the need to explore an event or phenomenon in depth and in its natural context. It is for this reason sometimes referred to as a "naturalistic" design; this is in contrast to an "experimental" design (such as a randomised controlled trial) in which the investigator seeks to exert control over and manipulate the variable(s) of interest.

Definitions of a case study

Stake's work has been particularly influential in defining the case study approach to scientific enquiry. He has helpfully characterised three main types of case study: intrinsic , instrumental and collective [ 8 ]. An intrinsic case study is typically undertaken to learn about a unique phenomenon. The researcher should define the uniqueness of the phenomenon, which distinguishes it from all others. In contrast, the instrumental case study uses a particular case (some of which may be better than others) to gain a broader appreciation of an issue or phenomenon. The collective case study involves studying multiple cases simultaneously or sequentially in an attempt to generate a still broader appreciation of a particular issue.

These are however not necessarily mutually exclusive categories. In the first of our examples (Table ​ (Table1), 1 ), we undertook an intrinsic case study to investigate the issue of recruitment of minority ethnic people into the specific context of asthma research studies, but it developed into a instrumental case study through seeking to understand the issue of recruitment of these marginalised populations more generally, generating a number of the findings that are potentially transferable to other disease contexts[ 3 ]. In contrast, the other three examples (see Tables ​ Tables2, 2 , ​ ,3 3 and ​ and4) 4 ) employed collective case study designs to study the introduction of workforce reconfiguration in primary care, the implementation of electronic health records into hospitals, and to understand the ways in which healthcare students learn about patient safety considerations[ 4 - 6 ]. Although our study focusing on the introduction of General Practitioners with Specialist Interests (Table ​ (Table2) 2 ) was explicitly collective in design (four contrasting primary care organisations were studied), is was also instrumental in that this particular professional group was studied as an exemplar of the more general phenomenon of workforce redesign[ 4 ].

What are case studies used for?

According to Yin, case studies can be used to explain, describe or explore events or phenomena in the everyday contexts in which they occur[ 1 ]. These can, for example, help to understand and explain causal links and pathways resulting from a new policy initiative or service development (see Tables ​ Tables2 2 and ​ and3, 3 , for example)[ 1 ]. In contrast to experimental designs, which seek to test a specific hypothesis through deliberately manipulating the environment (like, for example, in a randomised controlled trial giving a new drug to randomly selected individuals and then comparing outcomes with controls),[ 9 ] the case study approach lends itself well to capturing information on more explanatory ' how ', 'what' and ' why ' questions, such as ' how is the intervention being implemented and received on the ground?'. The case study approach can offer additional insights into what gaps exist in its delivery or why one implementation strategy might be chosen over another. This in turn can help develop or refine theory, as shown in our study of the teaching of patient safety in undergraduate curricula (Table ​ (Table4 4 )[ 6 , 10 ]. Key questions to consider when selecting the most appropriate study design are whether it is desirable or indeed possible to undertake a formal experimental investigation in which individuals and/or organisations are allocated to an intervention or control arm? Or whether the wish is to obtain a more naturalistic understanding of an issue? The former is ideally studied using a controlled experimental design, whereas the latter is more appropriately studied using a case study design.

Case studies may be approached in different ways depending on the epistemological standpoint of the researcher, that is, whether they take a critical (questioning one's own and others' assumptions), interpretivist (trying to understand individual and shared social meanings) or positivist approach (orientating towards the criteria of natural sciences, such as focusing on generalisability considerations) (Table ​ (Table6). 6 ). Whilst such a schema can be conceptually helpful, it may be appropriate to draw on more than one approach in any case study, particularly in the context of conducting health services research. Doolin has, for example, noted that in the context of undertaking interpretative case studies, researchers can usefully draw on a critical, reflective perspective which seeks to take into account the wider social and political environment that has shaped the case[ 11 ].

Example of epistemological approaches that may be used in case study research

How are case studies conducted?

Here, we focus on the main stages of research activity when planning and undertaking a case study; the crucial stages are: defining the case; selecting the case(s); collecting and analysing the data; interpreting data; and reporting the findings.

Defining the case

Carefully formulated research question(s), informed by the existing literature and a prior appreciation of the theoretical issues and setting(s), are all important in appropriately and succinctly defining the case[ 8 , 12 ]. Crucially, each case should have a pre-defined boundary which clarifies the nature and time period covered by the case study (i.e. its scope, beginning and end), the relevant social group, organisation or geographical area of interest to the investigator, the types of evidence to be collected, and the priorities for data collection and analysis (see Table ​ Table7 7 )[ 1 ]. A theory driven approach to defining the case may help generate knowledge that is potentially transferable to a range of clinical contexts and behaviours; using theory is also likely to result in a more informed appreciation of, for example, how and why interventions have succeeded or failed[ 13 ].

Example of a checklist for rating a case study proposal[ 8 ]

For example, in our evaluation of the introduction of electronic health records in English hospitals (Table ​ (Table3), 3 ), we defined our cases as the NHS Trusts that were receiving the new technology[ 5 ]. Our focus was on how the technology was being implemented. However, if the primary research interest had been on the social and organisational dimensions of implementation, we might have defined our case differently as a grouping of healthcare professionals (e.g. doctors and/or nurses). The precise beginning and end of the case may however prove difficult to define. Pursuing this same example, when does the process of implementation and adoption of an electronic health record system really begin or end? Such judgements will inevitably be influenced by a range of factors, including the research question, theory of interest, the scope and richness of the gathered data and the resources available to the research team.

Selecting the case(s)

The decision on how to select the case(s) to study is a very important one that merits some reflection. In an intrinsic case study, the case is selected on its own merits[ 8 ]. The case is selected not because it is representative of other cases, but because of its uniqueness, which is of genuine interest to the researchers. This was, for example, the case in our study of the recruitment of minority ethnic participants into asthma research (Table ​ (Table1) 1 ) as our earlier work had demonstrated the marginalisation of minority ethnic people with asthma, despite evidence of disproportionate asthma morbidity[ 14 , 15 ]. In another example of an intrinsic case study, Hellstrom et al.[ 16 ] studied an elderly married couple living with dementia to explore how dementia had impacted on their understanding of home, their everyday life and their relationships.

For an instrumental case study, selecting a "typical" case can work well[ 8 ]. In contrast to the intrinsic case study, the particular case which is chosen is of less importance than selecting a case that allows the researcher to investigate an issue or phenomenon. For example, in order to gain an understanding of doctors' responses to health policy initiatives, Som undertook an instrumental case study interviewing clinicians who had a range of responsibilities for clinical governance in one NHS acute hospital trust[ 17 ]. Sampling a "deviant" or "atypical" case may however prove even more informative, potentially enabling the researcher to identify causal processes, generate hypotheses and develop theory.

In collective or multiple case studies, a number of cases are carefully selected. This offers the advantage of allowing comparisons to be made across several cases and/or replication. Choosing a "typical" case may enable the findings to be generalised to theory (i.e. analytical generalisation) or to test theory by replicating the findings in a second or even a third case (i.e. replication logic)[ 1 ]. Yin suggests two or three literal replications (i.e. predicting similar results) if the theory is straightforward and five or more if the theory is more subtle. However, critics might argue that selecting 'cases' in this way is insufficiently reflexive and ill-suited to the complexities of contemporary healthcare organisations.

The selected case study site(s) should allow the research team access to the group of individuals, the organisation, the processes or whatever else constitutes the chosen unit of analysis for the study. Access is therefore a central consideration; the researcher needs to come to know the case study site(s) well and to work cooperatively with them. Selected cases need to be not only interesting but also hospitable to the inquiry [ 8 ] if they are to be informative and answer the research question(s). Case study sites may also be pre-selected for the researcher, with decisions being influenced by key stakeholders. For example, our selection of case study sites in the evaluation of the implementation and adoption of electronic health record systems (see Table ​ Table3) 3 ) was heavily influenced by NHS Connecting for Health, the government agency that was responsible for overseeing the National Programme for Information Technology (NPfIT)[ 5 ]. This prominent stakeholder had already selected the NHS sites (through a competitive bidding process) to be early adopters of the electronic health record systems and had negotiated contracts that detailed the deployment timelines.

It is also important to consider in advance the likely burden and risks associated with participation for those who (or the site(s) which) comprise the case study. Of particular importance is the obligation for the researcher to think through the ethical implications of the study (e.g. the risk of inadvertently breaching anonymity or confidentiality) and to ensure that potential participants/participating sites are provided with sufficient information to make an informed choice about joining the study. The outcome of providing this information might be that the emotive burden associated with participation, or the organisational disruption associated with supporting the fieldwork, is considered so high that the individuals or sites decide against participation.

In our example of evaluating implementations of electronic health record systems, given the restricted number of early adopter sites available to us, we sought purposively to select a diverse range of implementation cases among those that were available[ 5 ]. We chose a mixture of teaching, non-teaching and Foundation Trust hospitals, and examples of each of the three electronic health record systems procured centrally by the NPfIT. At one recruited site, it quickly became apparent that access was problematic because of competing demands on that organisation. Recognising the importance of full access and co-operative working for generating rich data, the research team decided not to pursue work at that site and instead to focus on other recruited sites.

Collecting the data

In order to develop a thorough understanding of the case, the case study approach usually involves the collection of multiple sources of evidence, using a range of quantitative (e.g. questionnaires, audits and analysis of routinely collected healthcare data) and more commonly qualitative techniques (e.g. interviews, focus groups and observations). The use of multiple sources of data (data triangulation) has been advocated as a way of increasing the internal validity of a study (i.e. the extent to which the method is appropriate to answer the research question)[ 8 , 18 - 21 ]. An underlying assumption is that data collected in different ways should lead to similar conclusions, and approaching the same issue from different angles can help develop a holistic picture of the phenomenon (Table ​ (Table2 2 )[ 4 ].

Brazier and colleagues used a mixed-methods case study approach to investigate the impact of a cancer care programme[ 22 ]. Here, quantitative measures were collected with questionnaires before, and five months after, the start of the intervention which did not yield any statistically significant results. Qualitative interviews with patients however helped provide an insight into potentially beneficial process-related aspects of the programme, such as greater, perceived patient involvement in care. The authors reported how this case study approach provided a number of contextual factors likely to influence the effectiveness of the intervention and which were not likely to have been obtained from quantitative methods alone.

In collective or multiple case studies, data collection needs to be flexible enough to allow a detailed description of each individual case to be developed (e.g. the nature of different cancer care programmes), before considering the emerging similarities and differences in cross-case comparisons (e.g. to explore why one programme is more effective than another). It is important that data sources from different cases are, where possible, broadly comparable for this purpose even though they may vary in nature and depth.

Analysing, interpreting and reporting case studies

Making sense and offering a coherent interpretation of the typically disparate sources of data (whether qualitative alone or together with quantitative) is far from straightforward. Repeated reviewing and sorting of the voluminous and detail-rich data are integral to the process of analysis. In collective case studies, it is helpful to analyse data relating to the individual component cases first, before making comparisons across cases. Attention needs to be paid to variations within each case and, where relevant, the relationship between different causes, effects and outcomes[ 23 ]. Data will need to be organised and coded to allow the key issues, both derived from the literature and emerging from the dataset, to be easily retrieved at a later stage. An initial coding frame can help capture these issues and can be applied systematically to the whole dataset with the aid of a qualitative data analysis software package.

The Framework approach is a practical approach, comprising of five stages (familiarisation; identifying a thematic framework; indexing; charting; mapping and interpretation) , to managing and analysing large datasets particularly if time is limited, as was the case in our study of recruitment of South Asians into asthma research (Table ​ (Table1 1 )[ 3 , 24 ]. Theoretical frameworks may also play an important role in integrating different sources of data and examining emerging themes. For example, we drew on a socio-technical framework to help explain the connections between different elements - technology; people; and the organisational settings within which they worked - in our study of the introduction of electronic health record systems (Table ​ (Table3 3 )[ 5 ]. Our study of patient safety in undergraduate curricula drew on an evaluation-based approach to design and analysis, which emphasised the importance of the academic, organisational and practice contexts through which students learn (Table ​ (Table4 4 )[ 6 ].

Case study findings can have implications both for theory development and theory testing. They may establish, strengthen or weaken historical explanations of a case and, in certain circumstances, allow theoretical (as opposed to statistical) generalisation beyond the particular cases studied[ 12 ]. These theoretical lenses should not, however, constitute a strait-jacket and the cases should not be "forced to fit" the particular theoretical framework that is being employed.

When reporting findings, it is important to provide the reader with enough contextual information to understand the processes that were followed and how the conclusions were reached. In a collective case study, researchers may choose to present the findings from individual cases separately before amalgamating across cases. Care must be taken to ensure the anonymity of both case sites and individual participants (if agreed in advance) by allocating appropriate codes or withholding descriptors. In the example given in Table ​ Table3, 3 , we decided against providing detailed information on the NHS sites and individual participants in order to avoid the risk of inadvertent disclosure of identities[ 5 , 25 ].

What are the potential pitfalls and how can these be avoided?

The case study approach is, as with all research, not without its limitations. When investigating the formal and informal ways undergraduate students learn about patient safety (Table ​ (Table4), 4 ), for example, we rapidly accumulated a large quantity of data. The volume of data, together with the time restrictions in place, impacted on the depth of analysis that was possible within the available resources. This highlights a more general point of the importance of avoiding the temptation to collect as much data as possible; adequate time also needs to be set aside for data analysis and interpretation of what are often highly complex datasets.

Case study research has sometimes been criticised for lacking scientific rigour and providing little basis for generalisation (i.e. producing findings that may be transferable to other settings)[ 1 ]. There are several ways to address these concerns, including: the use of theoretical sampling (i.e. drawing on a particular conceptual framework); respondent validation (i.e. participants checking emerging findings and the researcher's interpretation, and providing an opinion as to whether they feel these are accurate); and transparency throughout the research process (see Table ​ Table8 8 )[ 8 , 18 - 21 , 23 , 26 ]. Transparency can be achieved by describing in detail the steps involved in case selection, data collection, the reasons for the particular methods chosen, and the researcher's background and level of involvement (i.e. being explicit about how the researcher has influenced data collection and interpretation). Seeking potential, alternative explanations, and being explicit about how interpretations and conclusions were reached, help readers to judge the trustworthiness of the case study report. Stake provides a critique checklist for a case study report (Table ​ (Table9 9 )[ 8 ].

Potential pitfalls and mitigating actions when undertaking case study research

Stake's checklist for assessing the quality of a case study report[ 8 ]

Conclusions

The case study approach allows, amongst other things, critical events, interventions, policy developments and programme-based service reforms to be studied in detail in a real-life context. It should therefore be considered when an experimental design is either inappropriate to answer the research questions posed or impossible to undertake. Considering the frequency with which implementations of innovations are now taking place in healthcare settings and how well the case study approach lends itself to in-depth, complex health service research, we believe this approach should be more widely considered by researchers. Though inherently challenging, the research case study can, if carefully conceptualised and thoughtfully undertaken and reported, yield powerful insights into many important aspects of health and healthcare delivery.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors' contributions

AS conceived this article. SC, KC and AR wrote this paper with GH, AA and AS all commenting on various drafts. SC and AS are guarantors.

Pre-publication history

The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/11/100/prepub

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the participants and colleagues who contributed to the individual case studies that we have drawn on. This work received no direct funding, but it has been informed by projects funded by Asthma UK, the NHS Service Delivery Organisation, NHS Connecting for Health Evaluation Programme, and Patient Safety Research Portfolio. We would also like to thank the expert reviewers for their insightful and constructive feedback. Our thanks are also due to Dr. Allison Worth who commented on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

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  • Roberta Heale 1 ,
  • Alison Twycross 2
  • 1 School of Nursing , Laurentian University , Sudbury , Ontario , Canada
  • 2 School of Health and Social Care , London South Bank University , London , UK
  • Correspondence to Dr Roberta Heale, School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON P3E2C6, Canada; rheale{at}laurentian.ca

https://doi.org/10.1136/eb-2017-102845

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What is it?

Case study is a research methodology, typically seen in social and life sciences. There is no one definition of case study research. 1 However, very simply… ‘a case study can be defined as an intensive study about a person, a group of people or a unit, which is aimed to generalize over several units’. 1 A case study has also been described as an intensive, systematic investigation of a single individual, group, community or some other unit in which the researcher examines in-depth data relating to several variables. 2

Often there are several similar cases to consider such as educational or social service programmes that are delivered from a number of locations. Although similar, they are complex and have unique features. In these circumstances, the evaluation of several, similar cases will provide a better answer to a research question than if only one case is examined, hence the multiple-case study. Stake asserts that the cases are grouped and viewed as one entity, called the quintain . 6  ‘We study what is similar and different about the cases to understand the quintain better’. 6

The steps when using case study methodology are the same as for other types of research. 6 The first step is defining the single case or identifying a group of similar cases that can then be incorporated into a multiple-case study. A search to determine what is known about the case(s) is typically conducted. This may include a review of the literature, grey literature, media, reports and more, which serves to establish a basic understanding of the cases and informs the development of research questions. Data in case studies are often, but not exclusively, qualitative in nature. In multiple-case studies, analysis within cases and across cases is conducted. Themes arise from the analyses and assertions about the cases as a whole, or the quintain, emerge. 6

Benefits and limitations of case studies

If a researcher wants to study a specific phenomenon arising from a particular entity, then a single-case study is warranted and will allow for a in-depth understanding of the single phenomenon and, as discussed above, would involve collecting several different types of data. This is illustrated in example 1 below.

Using a multiple-case research study allows for a more in-depth understanding of the cases as a unit, through comparison of similarities and differences of the individual cases embedded within the quintain. Evidence arising from multiple-case studies is often stronger and more reliable than from single-case research. Multiple-case studies allow for more comprehensive exploration of research questions and theory development. 6

Despite the advantages of case studies, there are limitations. The sheer volume of data is difficult to organise and data analysis and integration strategies need to be carefully thought through. There is also sometimes a temptation to veer away from the research focus. 2 Reporting of findings from multiple-case research studies is also challenging at times, 1 particularly in relation to the word limits for some journal papers.

Examples of case studies

Example 1: nurses’ paediatric pain management practices.

One of the authors of this paper (AT) has used a case study approach to explore nurses’ paediatric pain management practices. This involved collecting several datasets:

Observational data to gain a picture about actual pain management practices.

Questionnaire data about nurses’ knowledge about paediatric pain management practices and how well they felt they managed pain in children.

Questionnaire data about how critical nurses perceived pain management tasks to be.

These datasets were analysed separately and then compared 7–9 and demonstrated that nurses’ level of theoretical did not impact on the quality of their pain management practices. 7 Nor did individual nurse’s perceptions of how critical a task was effect the likelihood of them carrying out this task in practice. 8 There was also a difference in self-reported and observed practices 9 ; actual (observed) practices did not confirm to best practice guidelines, whereas self-reported practices tended to.

Example 2: quality of care for complex patients at Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics (NPLCs)

The other author of this paper (RH) has conducted a multiple-case study to determine the quality of care for patients with complex clinical presentations in NPLCs in Ontario, Canada. 10 Five NPLCs served as individual cases that, together, represented the quatrain. Three types of data were collected including:

Review of documentation related to the NPLC model (media, annual reports, research articles, grey literature and regulatory legislation).

Interviews with nurse practitioners (NPs) practising at the five NPLCs to determine their perceptions of the impact of the NPLC model on the quality of care provided to patients with multimorbidity.

Chart audits conducted at the five NPLCs to determine the extent to which evidence-based guidelines were followed for patients with diabetes and at least one other chronic condition.

The three sources of data collected from the five NPLCs were analysed and themes arose related to the quality of care for complex patients at NPLCs. The multiple-case study confirmed that nurse practitioners are the primary care providers at the NPLCs, and this positively impacts the quality of care for patients with multimorbidity. Healthcare policy, such as lack of an increase in salary for NPs for 10 years, has resulted in issues in recruitment and retention of NPs at NPLCs. This, along with insufficient resources in the communities where NPLCs are located and high patient vulnerability at NPLCs, have a negative impact on the quality of care. 10

These examples illustrate how collecting data about a single case or multiple cases helps us to better understand the phenomenon in question. Case study methodology serves to provide a framework for evaluation and analysis of complex issues. It shines a light on the holistic nature of nursing practice and offers a perspective that informs improved patient care.

  • Gustafsson J
  • Calanzaro M
  • Sandelowski M

Competing interests None declared.

Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Read the full text or download the PDF:

How to write a case study — examples, templates, and tools

a case study and model

It’s a marketer’s job to communicate the effectiveness of a product or service to potential and current customers to convince them to buy and keep business moving. One of the best methods for doing this is to share success stories that are relatable to prospects and customers based on their pain points, experiences, and overall needs.

That’s where case studies come in. Case studies are an essential part of a content marketing plan. These in-depth stories of customer experiences are some of the most effective at demonstrating the value of a product or service. Yet many marketers don’t use them, whether because of their regimented formats or the process of customer involvement and approval.

A case study is a powerful tool for showcasing your hard work and the success your customer achieved. But writing a great case study can be difficult if you’ve never done it before or if it’s been a while. This guide will show you how to write an effective case study and provide real-world examples and templates that will keep readers engaged and support your business.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is a case study?

How to write a case study, case study templates, case study examples, case study tools.

A case study is the detailed story of a customer’s experience with a product or service that demonstrates their success and often includes measurable outcomes. Case studies are used in a range of fields and for various reasons, from business to academic research. They’re especially impactful in marketing as brands work to convince and convert consumers with relatable, real-world stories of actual customer experiences.

The best case studies tell the story of a customer’s success, including the steps they took, the results they achieved, and the support they received from a brand along the way. To write a great case study, you need to:

  • Celebrate the customer and make them — not a product or service — the star of the story.
  • Craft the story with specific audiences or target segments in mind so that the story of one customer will be viewed as relatable and actionable for another customer.
  • Write copy that is easy to read and engaging so that readers will gain the insights and messages intended.
  • Follow a standardized format that includes all of the essentials a potential customer would find interesting and useful.
  • Support all of the claims for success made in the story with data in the forms of hard numbers and customer statements.

Case studies are a type of review but more in depth, aiming to show — rather than just tell — the positive experiences that customers have with a brand. Notably, 89% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy, and 79% view case study content as part of their purchasing process. When it comes to B2B sales, 52% of buyers rank case studies as an important part of their evaluation process.

Telling a brand story through the experience of a tried-and-true customer matters. The story is relatable to potential new customers as they imagine themselves in the shoes of the company or individual featured in the case study. Showcasing previous customers can help new ones see themselves engaging with your brand in the ways that are most meaningful to them.

Besides sharing the perspective of another customer, case studies stand out from other content marketing forms because they are based on evidence. Whether pulling from client testimonials or data-driven results, case studies tend to have more impact on new business because the story contains information that is both objective (data) and subjective (customer experience) — and the brand doesn’t sound too self-promotional.

89% of consumers read reviews before buying, 79% view case studies, and 52% of B2B buyers prioritize case studies in the evaluation process.

Case studies are unique in that there’s a fairly standardized format for telling a customer’s story. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity. It’s all about making sure that teams are clear on the goals for the case study — along with strategies for supporting content and channels — and understanding how the story fits within the framework of the company’s overall marketing goals.

Here are the basic steps to writing a good case study.

1. Identify your goal

Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

The answer is often found in one of the buyer personas that have been constructed as part of your larger marketing strategy. This can include anything from new leads generated by the marketing team to long-term customers that are being pressed for cross-sell opportunities. In all of these cases, demonstrating value through a relatable customer success story can be part of the solution to conversion.

2. Choose your client or subject

Who you highlight matters. Case studies tie brands together that might otherwise not cross paths. A writer will want to ensure that the highlighted customer aligns with their own company’s brand identity and offerings. Look for a customer with positive name recognition who has had great success with a product or service and is willing to be an advocate.

The client should also match up with the identified target audience. Whichever company or individual is selected should be a reflection of other potential customers who can see themselves in similar circumstances, having the same problems and possible solutions.

Some of the most compelling case studies feature customers who:

  • Switch from one product or service to another while naming competitors that missed the mark.
  • Experience measurable results that are relatable to others in a specific industry.
  • Represent well-known brands and recognizable names that are likely to compel action.
  • Advocate for a product or service as a champion and are well-versed in its advantages.

Whoever or whatever customer is selected, marketers must ensure they have the permission of the company involved before getting started. Some brands have strict review and approval procedures for any official marketing or promotional materials that include their name. Acquiring those approvals in advance will prevent any miscommunication or wasted effort if there is an issue with their legal or compliance teams.

3. Conduct research and compile data

Substantiating the claims made in a case study — either by the marketing team or customers themselves — adds validity to the story. To do this, include data and feedback from the client that defines what success looks like. This can be anything from demonstrating return on investment (ROI) to a specific metric the customer was striving to improve. Case studies should prove how an outcome was achieved and show tangible results that indicate to the customer that your solution is the right one.

This step could also include customer interviews. Make sure that the people being interviewed are key stakeholders in the purchase decision or deployment and use of the product or service that is being highlighted. Content writers should work off a set list of questions prepared in advance. It can be helpful to share these with the interviewees beforehand so they have time to consider and craft their responses. One of the best interview tactics to keep in mind is to ask questions where yes and no are not natural answers. This way, your subject will provide more open-ended responses that produce more meaningful content.

4. Choose the right format

There are a number of different ways to format a case study. Depending on what you hope to achieve, one style will be better than another. However, there are some common elements to include, such as:

  • An engaging headline
  • A subject and customer introduction
  • The unique challenge or challenges the customer faced
  • The solution the customer used to solve the problem
  • The results achieved
  • Data and statistics to back up claims of success
  • A strong call to action (CTA) to engage with the vendor

It’s also important to note that while case studies are traditionally written as stories, they don’t have to be in a written format. Some companies choose to get more creative with their case studies and produce multimedia content, depending on their audience and objectives. Case study formats can include traditional print stories, interactive web or social content, data-heavy infographics, professionally shot videos, podcasts, and more.

5. Write your case study

We’ll go into more detail later about how exactly to write a case study, including templates and examples. Generally speaking, though, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your case study.

  • Be clear and concise. Readers want to get to the point of the story quickly and easily, and they’ll be looking to see themselves reflected in the story right from the start.
  • Provide a big picture. Always make sure to explain who the client is, their goals, and how they achieved success in a short introduction to engage the reader.
  • Construct a clear narrative. Stick to the story from the perspective of the customer and what they needed to solve instead of just listing product features or benefits.
  • Leverage graphics. Incorporating infographics, charts, and sidebars can be a more engaging and eye-catching way to share key statistics and data in readable ways.
  • Offer the right amount of detail. Most case studies are one or two pages with clear sections that a reader can skim to find the information most important to them.
  • Include data to support claims. Show real results — both facts and figures and customer quotes — to demonstrate credibility and prove the solution works.

6. Promote your story

Marketers have a number of options for distribution of a freshly minted case study. Many brands choose to publish case studies on their website and post them on social media. This can help support SEO and organic content strategies while also boosting company credibility and trust as visitors see that other businesses have used the product or service.

Marketers are always looking for quality content they can use for lead generation. Consider offering a case study as gated content behind a form on a landing page or as an offer in an email message. One great way to do this is to summarize the content and tease the full story available for download after the user takes an action.

Sales teams can also leverage case studies, so be sure they are aware that the assets exist once they’re published. Especially when it comes to larger B2B sales, companies often ask for examples of similar customer challenges that have been solved.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about case studies and what they should include, you may be wondering how to start creating great customer story content. Here are a couple of templates you can use to structure your case study.

Template 1 — Challenge-solution-result format

  • Start with an engaging title. This should be fewer than 70 characters long for SEO best practices. One of the best ways to approach the title is to include the customer’s name and a hint at the challenge they overcame in the end.
  • Create an introduction. Lead with an explanation as to who the customer is, the need they had, and the opportunity they found with a specific product or solution. Writers can also suggest the success the customer experienced with the solution they chose.
  • Present the challenge. This should be several paragraphs long and explain the problem the customer faced and the issues they were trying to solve. Details should tie into the company’s products and services naturally. This section needs to be the most relatable to the reader so they can picture themselves in a similar situation.
  • Share the solution. Explain which product or service offered was the ideal fit for the customer and why. Feel free to delve into their experience setting up, purchasing, and onboarding the solution.
  • Explain the results. Demonstrate the impact of the solution they chose by backing up their positive experience with data. Fill in with customer quotes and tangible, measurable results that show the effect of their choice.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that invites readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to nurture them further in the marketing pipeline. What you ask of the reader should tie directly into the goals that were established for the case study in the first place.

Template 2 — Data-driven format

  • Start with an engaging title. Be sure to include a statistic or data point in the first 70 characters. Again, it’s best to include the customer’s name as part of the title.
  • Create an overview. Share the customer’s background and a short version of the challenge they faced. Present the reason a particular product or service was chosen, and feel free to include quotes from the customer about their selection process.
  • Present data point 1. Isolate the first metric that the customer used to define success and explain how the product or solution helped to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 2. Isolate the second metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 3. Isolate the final metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Summarize the results. Reiterate the fact that the customer was able to achieve success thanks to a specific product or service. Include quotes and statements that reflect customer satisfaction and suggest they plan to continue using the solution.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that asks readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to further nurture them in the marketing pipeline. Again, remember that this is where marketers can look to convert their content into action with the customer.

While templates are helpful, seeing a case study in action can also be a great way to learn. Here are some examples of how Adobe customers have experienced success.

Juniper Networks

One example is the Adobe and Juniper Networks case study , which puts the reader in the customer’s shoes. The beginning of the story quickly orients the reader so that they know exactly who the article is about and what they were trying to achieve. Solutions are outlined in a way that shows Adobe Experience Manager is the best choice and a natural fit for the customer. Along the way, quotes from the client are incorporated to help add validity to the statements. The results in the case study are conveyed with clear evidence of scale and volume using tangible data.

A Lenovo case study showing statistics, a pull quote and featured headshot, the headline "The customer is king.," and Adobe product links.

The story of Lenovo’s journey with Adobe is one that spans years of planning, implementation, and rollout. The Lenovo case study does a great job of consolidating all of this into a relatable journey that other enterprise organizations can see themselves taking, despite the project size. This case study also features descriptive headers and compelling visual elements that engage the reader and strengthen the content.

Tata Consulting

When it comes to using data to show customer results, this case study does an excellent job of conveying details and numbers in an easy-to-digest manner. Bullet points at the start break up the content while also helping the reader understand exactly what the case study will be about. Tata Consulting used Adobe to deliver elevated, engaging content experiences for a large telecommunications client of its own — an objective that’s relatable for a lot of companies.

Case studies are a vital tool for any marketing team as they enable you to demonstrate the value of your company’s products and services to others. They help marketers do their job and add credibility to a brand trying to promote its solutions by using the experiences and stories of real customers.

When you’re ready to get started with a case study:

  • Think about a few goals you’d like to accomplish with your content.
  • Make a list of successful clients that would be strong candidates for a case study.
  • Reach out to the client to get their approval and conduct an interview.
  • Gather the data to present an engaging and effective customer story.

Adobe can help

There are several Adobe products that can help you craft compelling case studies. Adobe Experience Platform helps you collect data and deliver great customer experiences across every channel. Once you’ve created your case studies, Experience Platform will help you deliver the right information to the right customer at the right time for maximum impact.

To learn more, watch the Adobe Experience Platform story .

Keep in mind that the best case studies are backed by data. That’s where Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform and Adobe Analytics come into play. With Real-Time CDP, you can gather the data you need to build a great case study and target specific customers to deliver the content to the right audience at the perfect moment.

Watch the Real-Time CDP overview video to learn more.

Finally, Adobe Analytics turns real-time data into real-time insights. It helps your business collect and synthesize data from multiple platforms to make more informed decisions and create the best case study possible.

Request a demo to learn more about Adobe Analytics.

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/b2b-ecommerce-10-case-studies-inspire-you

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/business-case

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/what-is-real-time-analytics

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How to Write a Case Study | Examples & Methods

a case study and model

What is a case study?

A case study is a research approach that provides an in-depth examination of a particular phenomenon, event, organization, or individual. It involves analyzing and interpreting data to provide a comprehensive understanding of the subject under investigation. 

Case studies can be used in various disciplines, including business, social sciences, medicine ( clinical case report ), engineering, and education. The aim of a case study is to provide an in-depth exploration of a specific subject, often with the goal of generating new insights into the phenomena being studied.

When to write a case study

Case studies are often written to present the findings of an empirical investigation or to illustrate a particular point or theory. They are useful when researchers want to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific phenomenon or when they are interested in exploring new areas of inquiry. 

Case studies are also useful when the subject of the research is rare or when the research question is complex and requires an in-depth examination. A case study can be a good fit for a thesis or dissertation as well.

Case study examples

Below are some examples of case studies with their research questions:

These examples demonstrate the diversity of research questions and case studies that can be explored. From studying small businesses in Ghana to the ethical issues in supply chains, case studies can be used to explore a wide range of phenomena.

Outlying cases vs. representative cases

An outlying case stud y refers to a case that is unusual or deviates significantly from the norm. An example of an outlying case study could be a small, family-run bed and breakfast that was able to survive and even thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, while other larger hotels struggled to stay afloat.

On the other hand, a representative case study refers to a case that is typical of the phenomenon being studied. An example of a representative case study could be a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations that faced significant challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as reduced demand for hotel rooms, increased safety and health protocols, and supply chain disruptions. The hotel chain case could be representative of the broader hospitality industry during the pandemic, and thus provides an insight into the typical challenges that businesses in the industry faced.

Steps for Writing a Case Study

As with any academic paper, writing a case study requires careful preparation and research before a single word of the document is ever written. Follow these basic steps to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial details when composing your case study.

Step 1: Select a case to analyze

After you have developed your statement of the problem and research question , the first step in writing a case study is to select a case that is representative of the phenomenon being investigated or that provides an outlier. For example, if a researcher wants to explore the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, they could select a representative case, such as a hotel chain that operates in multiple locations, or an outlying case, such as a small bed and breakfast that was able to pivot their business model to survive during the pandemic. Selecting the appropriate case is critical in ensuring the research question is adequately explored.

Step 2: Create a theoretical framework

Theoretical frameworks are used to guide the analysis and interpretation of data in a case study. The framework should provide a clear explanation of the key concepts, variables, and relationships that are relevant to the research question. The theoretical framework can be drawn from existing literature, or the researcher can develop their own framework based on the data collected. The theoretical framework should be developed early in the research process to guide the data collection and analysis.

To give your case analysis a strong theoretical grounding, be sure to include a literature review of references and sources relating to your topic and develop a clear theoretical framework. Your case study does not simply stand on its own but interacts with other studies related to your topic. Your case study can do one of the following: 

  • Demonstrate a theory by showing how it explains the case being investigated
  • Broaden a theory by identifying additional concepts and ideas that can be incorporated to strengthen it
  • Confront a theory via an outlier case that does not conform to established conclusions or assumptions

Step 3: Collect data for your case study

Data collection can involve a variety of research methods , including interviews, surveys, observations, and document analyses, and it can include both primary and secondary sources . It is essential to ensure that the data collected is relevant to the research question and that it is collected in a systematic and ethical manner. Data collection methods should be chosen based on the research question and the availability of data. It is essential to plan data collection carefully to ensure that the data collected is of high quality

Step 4: Describe the case and analyze the details

The final step is to describe the case in detail and analyze the data collected. This involves identifying patterns and themes that emerge from the data and drawing conclusions that are relevant to the research question. It is essential to ensure that the analysis is supported by the data and that any limitations or alternative explanations are acknowledged.

The manner in which you report your findings depends on the type of research you are doing. Some case studies are structured like a standard academic paper, with separate sections or chapters for the methods section , results section , and discussion section , while others are structured more like a standalone literature review.

Regardless of the topic you choose to pursue, writing a case study requires a systematic and rigorous approach to data collection and analysis. By following the steps outlined above and using examples from existing literature, researchers can create a comprehensive and insightful case study that contributes to the understanding of a particular phenomenon.

Preparing Your Case Study for Publication

After completing the draft of your case study, be sure to revise and edit your work for any mistakes, including grammatical errors , punctuation errors , spelling mistakes, and awkward sentence structure . Ensure that your case study is well-structured and that your arguments are well-supported with language that follows the conventions of academic writing .  To ensure your work is polished for style and free of errors, get English editing services from Wordvice, including our paper editing services and manuscript editing services . Let our academic subject experts enhance the style and flow of your academic work so you can submit your case study with confidence.

What is the Case Study Method?

Baker library peak and cupola

Overview Dropdown up

Overview dropdown down, celebrating 100 years of the case method at hbs.

The 2021-2022 academic year marks the 100-year anniversary of the introduction of the case method at Harvard Business School. Today, the HBS case method is employed in the HBS MBA program, in Executive Education programs, and in dozens of other business schools around the world. As Dean Srikant Datar's says, the case method has withstood the test of time.

Case Discussion Preparation Details Expand All Collapse All

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a case study and model

How Cases Unfold In the Classroom

How cases unfold in the classroom dropdown up, how cases unfold in the classroom dropdown down, preparation guidelines expand all collapse all, read the professor's assignment or discussion questions read the professor's assignment or discussion questions dropdown down, read the first few paragraphs and then skim the case read the first few paragraphs and then skim the case dropdown down, reread the case, underline text, and make margin notes reread the case, underline text, and make margin notes dropdown down, note the key problems on a pad of paper and go through the case again note the key problems on a pad of paper and go through the case again dropdown down, how to prepare for case discussions dropdown up, how to prepare for case discussions dropdown down, read the professor's assignment or discussion questions, read the first few paragraphs and then skim the case, reread the case, underline text, and make margin notes, note the key problems on a pad of paper and go through the case again, case study best practices expand all collapse all, prepare prepare dropdown down, discuss discuss dropdown down, participate participate dropdown down, relate relate dropdown down, apply apply dropdown down, note note dropdown down, understand understand dropdown down, case study best practices dropdown up, case study best practices dropdown down, participate, what can i expect on the first day dropdown down.

Most programs begin with registration, followed by an opening session and a dinner. If your travel plans necessitate late arrival, please be sure to notify us so that alternate registration arrangements can be made for you. Please note the following about registration:

HBS campus programs – Registration takes place in the Chao Center.

India programs – Registration takes place outside the classroom.

Other off-campus programs – Registration takes place in the designated facility.

What happens in class if nobody talks? Dropdown down

Professors are here to push everyone to learn, but not to embarrass anyone. If the class is quiet, they'll often ask a participant with experience in the industry in which the case is set to speak first. This is done well in advance so that person can come to class prepared to share. Trust the process. The more open you are, the more willing you’ll be to engage, and the more alive the classroom will become.

Does everyone take part in "role-playing"? Dropdown down

Professors often encourage participants to take opposing sides and then debate the issues, often taking the perspective of the case protagonists or key decision makers in the case.

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Do Your Students Know How to Analyze a Case—Really?

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  • Case Teaching
  • Student Engagement

J ust as actors, athletes, and musicians spend thousands of hours practicing their craft, business students benefit from practicing their critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Students, however, often have limited exposure to real-world problem-solving scenarios; they need more opportunities to practice tackling tough business problems and deciding on—and executing—the best solutions.

To ensure students have ample opportunity to develop these critical-thinking and decision-making skills, we believe business faculty should shift from teaching mostly principles and ideas to mostly applications and practices. And in doing so, they should emphasize the case method, which simulates real-world management challenges and opportunities for students.

To help educators facilitate this shift and help students get the most out of case-based learning, we have developed a framework for analyzing cases. We call it PACADI (Problem, Alternatives, Criteria, Analysis, Decision, Implementation); it can improve learning outcomes by helping students better solve and analyze business problems, make decisions, and develop and implement strategy. Here, we’ll explain why we developed this framework, how it works, and what makes it an effective learning tool.

The Case for Cases: Helping Students Think Critically

Business students must develop critical-thinking and analytical skills, which are essential to their ability to make good decisions in functional areas such as marketing, finance, operations, and information technology, as well as to understand the relationships among these functions. For example, the decisions a marketing manager must make include strategic planning (segments, products, and channels); execution (digital messaging, media, branding, budgets, and pricing); and operations (integrated communications and technologies), as well as how to implement decisions across functional areas.

Faculty can use many types of cases to help students develop these skills. These include the prototypical “paper cases”; live cases , which feature guest lecturers such as entrepreneurs or corporate leaders and on-site visits; and multimedia cases , which immerse students into real situations. Most cases feature an explicit or implicit decision that a protagonist—whether it is an individual, a group, or an organization—must make.

For students new to learning by the case method—and even for those with case experience—some common issues can emerge; these issues can sometimes be a barrier for educators looking to ensure the best possible outcomes in their case classrooms. Unsure of how to dig into case analysis on their own, students may turn to the internet or rely on former students for “answers” to assigned cases. Or, when assigned to provide answers to assignment questions in teams, students might take a divide-and-conquer approach but not take the time to regroup and provide answers that are consistent with one other.

To help address these issues, which we commonly experienced in our classes, we wanted to provide our students with a more structured approach for how they analyze cases—and to really think about making decisions from the protagonists’ point of view. We developed the PACADI framework to address this need.

PACADI: A Six-Step Decision-Making Approach

The PACADI framework is a six-step decision-making approach that can be used in lieu of traditional end-of-case questions. It offers a structured, integrated, and iterative process that requires students to analyze case information, apply business concepts to derive valuable insights, and develop recommendations based on these insights.

Prior to beginning a PACADI assessment, which we’ll outline here, students should first prepare a two-paragraph summary—a situation analysis—that highlights the key case facts. Then, we task students with providing a five-page PACADI case analysis (excluding appendices) based on the following six steps.

Step 1: Problem definition. What is the major challenge, problem, opportunity, or decision that has to be made? If there is more than one problem, choose the most important one. Often when solving the key problem, other issues will surface and be addressed. The problem statement may be framed as a question; for example, How can brand X improve market share among millennials in Canada? Usually the problem statement has to be re-written several times during the analysis of a case as students peel back the layers of symptoms or causation.

Step 2: Alternatives. Identify in detail the strategic alternatives to address the problem; three to five options generally work best. Alternatives should be mutually exclusive, realistic, creative, and feasible given the constraints of the situation. Doing nothing or delaying the decision to a later date are not considered acceptable alternatives.

Step 3: Criteria. What are the key decision criteria that will guide decision-making? In a marketing course, for example, these may include relevant marketing criteria such as segmentation, positioning, advertising and sales, distribution, and pricing. Financial criteria useful in evaluating the alternatives should be included—for example, income statement variables, customer lifetime value, payback, etc. Students must discuss their rationale for selecting the decision criteria and the weights and importance for each factor.

Step 4: Analysis. Provide an in-depth analysis of each alternative based on the criteria chosen in step three. Decision tables using criteria as columns and alternatives as rows can be helpful. The pros and cons of the various choices as well as the short- and long-term implications of each may be evaluated. Best, worst, and most likely scenarios can also be insightful.

Step 5: Decision. Students propose their solution to the problem. This decision is justified based on an in-depth analysis. Explain why the recommendation made is the best fit for the criteria.

Step 6: Implementation plan. Sound business decisions may fail due to poor execution. To enhance the likeliness of a successful project outcome, students describe the key steps (activities) to implement the recommendation, timetable, projected costs, expected competitive reaction, success metrics, and risks in the plan.

“Students note that using the PACADI framework yields ‘aha moments’—they learned something surprising in the case that led them to think differently about the problem and their proposed solution.”

PACADI’s Benefits: Meaningfully and Thoughtfully Applying Business Concepts

The PACADI framework covers all of the major elements of business decision-making, including implementation, which is often overlooked. By stepping through the whole framework, students apply relevant business concepts and solve management problems via a systematic, comprehensive approach; they’re far less likely to surface piecemeal responses.

As students explore each part of the framework, they may realize that they need to make changes to a previous step. For instance, when working on implementation, students may realize that the alternative they selected cannot be executed or will not be profitable, and thus need to rethink their decision. Or, they may discover that the criteria need to be revised since the list of decision factors they identified is incomplete (for example, the factors may explain key marketing concerns but fail to address relevant financial considerations) or is unrealistic (for example, they suggest a 25 percent increase in revenues without proposing an increased promotional budget).

In addition, the PACADI framework can be used alongside quantitative assignments, in-class exercises, and business and management simulations. The structured, multi-step decision framework encourages careful and sequential analysis to solve business problems. Incorporating PACADI as an overarching decision-making method across different projects will ultimately help students achieve desired learning outcomes. As a practical “beyond-the-classroom” tool, the PACADI framework is not a contrived course assignment; it reflects the decision-making approach that managers, executives, and entrepreneurs exercise daily. Case analysis introduces students to the real-world process of making business decisions quickly and correctly, often with limited information. This framework supplies an organized and disciplined process that students can readily defend in writing and in class discussions.

PACADI in Action: An Example

Here’s an example of how students used the PACADI framework for a recent case analysis on CVS, a large North American drugstore chain.

The CVS Prescription for Customer Value*

PACADI Stage

Summary Response

How should CVS Health evolve from the “drugstore of your neighborhood” to the “drugstore of your future”?

Alternatives

A1. Kaizen (continuous improvement)

A2. Product development

A3. Market development

A4. Personalization (micro-targeting)

Criteria (include weights)

C1. Customer value: service, quality, image, and price (40%)

C2. Customer obsession (20%)

C3. Growth through related businesses (20%)

C4. Customer retention and customer lifetime value (20%)

Each alternative was analyzed by each criterion using a Customer Value Assessment Tool

Alternative 4 (A4): Personalization was selected. This is operationalized via: segmentation—move toward segment-of-1 marketing; geodemographics and lifestyle emphasis; predictive data analysis; relationship marketing; people, principles, and supply chain management; and exceptional customer service.

Implementation

Partner with leading medical school

Curbside pick-up

Pet pharmacy

E-newsletter for customers and employees

Employee incentive program

CVS beauty days

Expand to Latin America and Caribbean

Healthier/happier corner

Holiday toy drives/community outreach

*Source: A. Weinstein, Y. Rodriguez, K. Sims, R. Vergara, “The CVS Prescription for Superior Customer Value—A Case Study,” Back to the Future: Revisiting the Foundations of Marketing from Society for Marketing Advances, West Palm Beach, FL (November 2, 2018).

Results of Using the PACADI Framework

When faculty members at our respective institutions at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and the University of North Carolina Wilmington have used the PACADI framework, our classes have been more structured and engaging. Students vigorously debate each element of their decision and note that this framework yields an “aha moment”—they learned something surprising in the case that led them to think differently about the problem and their proposed solution.

These lively discussions enhance individual and collective learning. As one external metric of this improvement, we have observed a 2.5 percent increase in student case grade performance at NSU since this framework was introduced.

Tips to Get Started

The PACADI approach works well in in-person, online, and hybrid courses. This is particularly important as more universities have moved to remote learning options. Because students have varied educational and cultural backgrounds, work experience, and familiarity with case analysis, we recommend that faculty members have students work on their first case using this new framework in small teams (two or three students). Additional analyses should then be solo efforts.

To use PACADI effectively in your classroom, we suggest the following:

Advise your students that your course will stress critical thinking and decision-making skills, not just course concepts and theory.

Use a varied mix of case studies. As marketing professors, we often address consumer and business markets; goods, services, and digital commerce; domestic and global business; and small and large companies in a single MBA course.

As a starting point, provide a short explanation (about 20 to 30 minutes) of the PACADI framework with a focus on the conceptual elements. You can deliver this face to face or through videoconferencing.

Give students an opportunity to practice the case analysis methodology via an ungraded sample case study. Designate groups of five to seven students to discuss the case and the six steps in breakout sessions (in class or via Zoom).

Ensure case analyses are weighted heavily as a grading component. We suggest 30–50 percent of the overall course grade.

Once cases are graded, debrief with the class on what they did right and areas needing improvement (30- to 40-minute in-person or Zoom session).

Encourage faculty teams that teach common courses to build appropriate instructional materials, grading rubrics, videos, sample cases, and teaching notes.

When selecting case studies, we have found that the best ones for PACADI analyses are about 15 pages long and revolve around a focal management decision. This length provides adequate depth yet is not protracted. Some of our tested and favorite marketing cases include Brand W , Hubspot , Kraft Foods Canada , TRSB(A) , and Whiskey & Cheddar .

Art Weinstein

Art Weinstein , Ph.D., is a professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has published more than 80 scholarly articles and papers and eight books on customer-focused marketing strategy. His latest book is Superior Customer Value—Finding and Keeping Customers in the Now Economy . Dr. Weinstein has consulted for many leading technology and service companies.

Herbert V. Brotspies

Herbert V. Brotspies , D.B.A., is an adjunct professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University. He has over 30 years’ experience as a vice president in marketing, strategic planning, and acquisitions for Fortune 50 consumer products companies working in the United States and internationally. His research interests include return on marketing investment, consumer behavior, business-to-business strategy, and strategic planning.

John T. Gironda

John T. Gironda , Ph.D., is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His research has been published in Industrial Marketing Management, Psychology & Marketing , and Journal of Marketing Management . He has also presented at major marketing conferences including the American Marketing Association, Academy of Marketing Science, and Society for Marketing Advances.

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What Is a Case Study?

An in-depth study of one person, group, or event

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

a case study and model

Cara Lustik is a fact-checker and copywriter.

a case study and model

Verywell / Colleen Tighe

Benefits and Limitations

Types of case studies, how to write a case study.

A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

The purpose of a case study is to learn as much as possible about an individual or group so that the information can be generalized to many others. Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective, and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.

While case studies focus on a single individual or group, they follow a format similar to other types of psychology writing. If you are writing a case study, it is important to follow the rules of APA format .  

A case study can have both strengths and weaknesses. Researchers must consider these pros and cons before deciding if this type of study is appropriate for their needs.

One of the greatest advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a lab. Some other benefits of a case study:

  • Allows researchers to collect a great deal of information
  • Give researchers the chance to collect information on rare or unusual cases
  • Permits researchers to develop hypotheses that can be explored in experimental research

On the negative side, a case study:

  • Cannot necessarily be generalized to the larger population
  • Cannot demonstrate cause and effect
  • May not be scientifically rigorous
  • Can lead to bias

Researchers may choose to perform a case study if they are interested in exploring a unique or recently discovered phenomenon. The insights gained from such research can help the researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that might be explored in future studies.

However, it is important to remember that the insights gained from case studies cannot be used to determine cause and effect relationships between variables. However, case studies may be used to develop hypotheses that can then be addressed in experimental research.

Case Study Examples

There have been a number of notable case studies in the history of psychology. Much of  Freud's work and theories were developed through the use of individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include:

  • Anna O : Anna O. was a pseudonym of a woman named Bertha Pappenheim, a patient of a physician named Josef Breuer. While she was never a patient of Freud's, Freud and Breuer discussed her case extensively. The woman was experiencing symptoms of a condition that was then known as hysteria and found that talking about her problems helped relieve her symptoms. Her case played an important part in the development of talk therapy as an approach to mental health treatment.
  • Phineas Gage : Phineas Gage was a railroad employee who experienced a terrible accident in which an explosion sent a metal rod through his skull, damaging important portions of his brain. Gage recovered from his accident but was left with serious changes in both personality and behavior.
  • Genie : Genie was a young girl subjected to horrific abuse and isolation. The case study of Genie allowed researchers to study whether language could be taught even after critical periods for language development had been missed. Her case also served as an example of how scientific research may interfere with treatment and lead to further abuse of vulnerable individuals.

Such cases demonstrate how case research can be used to study things that researchers could not replicate in experimental settings. In Genie's case, her horrific abuse had denied her the opportunity to learn language at critical points in her development.

This is clearly not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but conducting a case study on Genie allowed researchers the chance to study phenomena that are otherwise impossible to reproduce.

There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers might utilize:

  • Collective case studies : These involve studying a group of individuals. Researchers might study a group of people in a certain setting or look at an entire community. For example, psychologists might explore how access to resources in a community has affected the collective mental well-being of those living there.
  • Descriptive case studies : These involve starting with a descriptive theory. The subjects are then observed, and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing theory.
  • Explanatory case studies : These   are often used to do causal investigations. In other words, researchers are interested in looking at factors that may have caused certain things to occur.
  • Exploratory case studies : These are sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to gather more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses .
  • Instrumental case studies : These occur when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than what is initially obvious to observers.
  • Intrinsic case studies : This type of case study is when the researcher has a personal interest in the case. Jean Piaget's observations of his own children are good examples of how an intrinsic cast study can contribute to the development of a psychological theory.

The three main case study types often used are intrinsic, instrumental, and collective. Intrinsic case studies are useful for learning about unique cases. Instrumental case studies help look at an individual to learn more about a broader issue. A collective case study can be useful for looking at several cases simultaneously.

The type of case study that psychology researchers utilize depends on the unique characteristics of the situation as well as the case itself.

There are also different methods that can be used to conduct a case study, including prospective and retrospective case study methods.

Prospective case study methods are those in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.

Retrospective case study methods involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work their way backward to look at information about the individual's life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.

Where to Find Data

There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. Six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:

  • Archival records : Census records, survey records, and name lists are examples of archival records.
  • Direct observation : This strategy involves observing the subject, often in a natural setting . While an individual observer is sometimes used, it is more common to utilize a group of observers.
  • Documents : Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc., are the types of documents often used as sources.
  • Interviews : Interviews are one of the most important methods for gathering information in case studies. An interview can involve structured survey questions or more open-ended questions.
  • Participant observation : When the researcher serves as a participant in events and observes the actions and outcomes, it is called participant observation.
  • Physical artifacts : Tools, objects, instruments, and other artifacts are often observed during a direct observation of the subject.

Section 1: A Case History

This section will have the following structure and content:

Background information : The first section of your paper will present your client's background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, family mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and weaknesses.

Description of the presenting problem : In the next section of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with.

Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to the symptoms should also be noted. Any screening or diagnostic assessments that are used should also be described in detail and all scores reported.

Your diagnosis : Provide your diagnosis and give the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the client's symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s), or any possible difficulties in reaching a diagnosis.

Section 2: Treatment Plan

This portion of the paper will address the chosen treatment for the condition. This might also include the theoretical basis for the chosen treatment or any other evidence that might exist to support why this approach was chosen.

  • Cognitive behavioral approach : Explain how a cognitive behavioral therapist would approach treatment. Offer background information on cognitive behavioral therapy and describe the treatment sessions, client response, and outcome of this type of treatment. Make note of any difficulties or successes encountered by your client during treatment.
  • Humanistic approach : Describe a humanistic approach that could be used to treat your client, such as client-centered therapy . Provide information on the type of treatment you chose, the client's reaction to the treatment, and the end result of this approach. Explain why the treatment was successful or unsuccessful.
  • Psychoanalytic approach : Describe how a psychoanalytic therapist would view the client's problem. Provide some background on the psychoanalytic approach and cite relevant references. Explain how psychoanalytic therapy would be used to treat the client, how the client would respond to therapy, and the effectiveness of this treatment approach.
  • Pharmacological approach : If treatment primarily involves the use of medications, explain which medications were used and why. Provide background on the effectiveness of these medications and how monotherapy may compare with an approach that combines medications with therapy or other treatments.

This section of a case study should also include information about the treatment goals, process, and outcomes.

When you are writing a case study, you should also include a section where you discuss the case study itself, including the strengths and limitiations of the study. You should note how the findings of your case study might support previous research. 

In your discussion section, you should also describe some of the implications of your case study. What ideas or findings might require further exploration? How might researchers go about exploring some of these questions in additional studies?

Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind when formatting your case study:

  • Never refer to the subject of your case study as "the client." Instead, their name or a pseudonym.
  • Read examples of case studies to gain an idea about the style and format.
  • Remember to use APA format when citing references .

A Word From Verywell

Case studies can be a useful research tool, but they need to be used wisely. In many cases, they are best utilized in situations where conducting an experiment would be difficult or impossible. They are helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a great deal of information about a specific individual or group of people.

If you have been directed to write a case study for a psychology course, be sure to check with your instructor for any specific guidelines that you are required to follow. If you are writing your case study for professional publication, be sure to check with the publisher for their specific guidelines for submitting a case study.

Simply Psychology. Case Study Method .

Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach . BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011 Jun 27;11:100. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-100

Gagnon, Yves-Chantal.  The Case Study as Research Method: A Practical Handbook . Canada, Chicago Review Press Incorporated DBA Independent Pub Group, 2010.

Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . United States, SAGE Publications, 2017.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

  • Nitin Nohria

a case study and model

Seven meta-skills that stick even if the cases fade from memory.

It’s been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter, the case study method excels in instilling meta-skills in students. This article explains the importance of seven such skills: preparation, discernment, bias recognition, judgement, collaboration, curiosity, and self-confidence.

During my decade as dean of Harvard Business School, I spent hundreds of hours talking with our alumni. To enliven these conversations, I relied on a favorite question: “What was the most important thing you learned from your time in our MBA program?”

  • Nitin Nohria is the George F. Baker Jr. Professor at Harvard Business School and the former dean of HBS.

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Case Study Research: Methods and Designs

Case study research is a type of qualitative research design. It’s often used in the social sciences because it involves…

Case Study Method

Case study research is a type of qualitative research design. It’s often used in the social sciences because it involves observing subjects, or cases, in their natural setting, with minimal interference from the researcher.

In the case study method , researchers pose a specific question about an individual or group to test their theories or hypothesis. This can be done by gathering data from interviews with key informants.

Here’s what you need to know about case study research design .

What Is The Case Study Method?

Main approaches to data collection, case study research methods, how case studies are used, case study model.

Case study research is a great way to understand the nuances of a matter that can get lost in quantitative research methods. A case study is distinct from other qualitative studies in the following ways:

  • It’s interested in the effect of a set of circumstances on an individual or group.
  • It begins with a specific question about one or more cases.
  • It focuses on individual accounts and experiences.

Here are the primary features of case study research:

  • Case study research methods typically involve the researcher asking a few questions of one person or a small number of people—known as respondents—to test one hypothesis.
  • Case study in research methodology may apply triangulation to collect data, in which the researcher uses several sources, including documents and field data. This is then analyzed and interpreted to form a hypothesis that can be tested through further research or validated by other researchers.
  • The case study method requires clear concepts and theories to guide its methods. A well-defined research question is crucial when conducting a case study because the results of the study depend on it. The best approach to answering a research question is to challenge the existing theories, hypotheses or assumptions.
  • Concepts are defined using objective language with no reference to preconceived notions that individuals might have about them. The researcher sets out to discover by asking specific questions on how people think or perceive things in their given situation.

They commonly use the case study method in business, management, psychology, sociology, political science and other related fields.

A fundamental requirement of qualitative research is recording observations that provide an understanding of reality. When it comes to the case study method, there are two major approaches that can be used to collect data: document review and fieldwork.

A case study in research methodology also includes literature review, the process by which the researcher collects all data available through historical documents. These might include books, newspapers, journals, videos, photographs and other written material. The researcher may also record information using video cameras to capture events as they occur. The researcher can also go through materials produced by people involved in the case study to gain an insight into their lives and experiences.

Field research involves participating in interviews and observations directly. Observation can be done during telephone interviews, events or public meetings, visits to homes or workplaces, or by shadowing someone for a period of time. The researcher can conduct one-on-one interviews with individuals or group interviews where several people are interviewed at once.

Let’s look now at case study methodology.

The case study method can be divided into three stages: formulation of objectives; collection of data; and analysis and interpretation. The researcher first makes a judgment about what should be studied based on their knowledge. Next, they gather data through observations and interviews. Here are some of the common case study research methods:

One of the most basic methods is the survey. Respondents are asked to complete a questionnaire with open-ended and predetermined questions. It usually takes place through face-to-face interviews, mailed questionnaires or telephone interviews. It can even be done by an online survey.

2. Semi-structured Interview

For case study research a more complex method is the semi-structured interview. This involves the researcher learning about the topic by listening to what others have to say. This usually occurs through one-on-one interviews with the sample. Semi-structured interviews allow for greater flexibility and can obtain information that structured questionnaires can’t.

3. Focus Group Interview

Another method is the focus group interview, where the researcher asks a few people to take part in an open-ended discussion on certain themes or topics. The typical group size is 5–15 people. This method allows researchers to delve deeper into people’s opinions, views and experiences.

4. Participant Observation

Participant observation is another method that involves the researcher gaining insight into an experience by joining in and taking part in normal events. The people involved don’t always know they’re being studied, but the researcher observes and records what happens through field notes.

Case study research design can use one or several of these methods depending on the context.

Case studies are widely used in the social sciences. To understand the impact of socio-economic forces, interpersonal dynamics and other human conditions, sometimes there’s no other way than to study one case at a time and look for patterns and data afterward.

It’s for the same reasons that case studies are used in business. Here are a few uses:

  • Case studies can be used as tools to educate and give examples of situations and problems that might occur and how they were resolved. They can also be used for strategy development and implementation.
  • Case studies can evaluate the success of a program or project. They can help teams improve their collaboration by identifying areas that need improvements, such as team dynamics, communication, roles and responsibilities and leadership styles.
  • Case studies can explore how people’s experiences affect the working environment. Because the study involves observing and analyzing concrete details of life, they can inform theories on how an individual or group interacts with their environment.
  • Case studies can evaluate the sustainability of businesses. They’re useful for social, environmental and economic impact studies because they look at all aspects of a business or organization. This gives researchers a holistic view of the dynamics within an organization.
  • We can use case studies to identify problems in organizations or businesses. They can help spot problems that are invisible to customers, investors, managers and employees.
  • Case studies are used in education to show students how real-world issues or events can be sorted out. This enables students to identify and deal with similar situations in their lives.

And that’s not all. Case studies are incredibly versatile, which is why they’re used so widely.

Human beings are complex and they interact with each other in their everyday life in various ways. The researcher observes a case and tries to find out how the patterns of behavior are created, including their causal relations. Case studies help understand one or more specific events that have been observed. Here are some common methods:

1. Illustrative case study

This is where the researcher observes a group of people doing something. Studying an event or phenomenon this way can show cause-and-effect relationships between various variables.

2. Cumulative case study

A cumulative case study is one that involves observing the same set of phenomena over a period. Cumulative case studies can be very helpful in understanding processes, which are things that happen over time. For example, if there are behavioral changes in people who move from one place to another, the researcher might want to know why these changes occurred.

3. Exploratory case study

An exploratory case study collects information that will answer a question. It can help researchers better understand social, economic, political or other social phenomena.

There are several other ways to categorize case studies. They may be chronological case studies, where a researcher observes events over time. In the comparative case study, the researcher compares one or more groups of people, places, or things to draw conclusions about them. In an intervention case study, the researcher intervenes to change the behavior of the subjects. The study method depends on the needs of the research team.

Deciding how to analyze the information at our disposal is an important part of effective management. An understanding of the case study model can help. With Harappa’s Thinking Critically course, managers and young professionals receive input and training on how to level up their analytic skills. Knowledge of frameworks, reading real-life examples and lived wisdom of faculty come together to create a dynamic and exciting course that helps teams leap to the next level.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Objectives Of Research , What are Qualitative Research Methods , How To Make A Problem Statement and How To Improve your Cognitive Skills to upgrade your knowledge and skills.

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15+ Professional Case Study Examples [Design Tips + Templates]

By Alice Corner , Jan 12, 2023

Venngage case study examples

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever bought something — within the last 10 years or so — without reading its reviews or without a recommendation or prior experience of using it?

If the answer is no — or at least, rarely — you get my point.

For businesses selling consumer goods, having raving reviews is a good way to get more customers. The same thing applies to B2B and/or SaaS businesses — but for this type of business, besides regular, short reviews, having a detailed case study can help tremendously.

Case studies are an incredibly effective form of marketing that you can use to help promote your product and plan your marketing strategy effectively. You can also use it as a form of customer analysis or as a sales tool to inspire potential customers.

So what does a case study look like and how can you create one? In this article, I’m going to list over 15 marketing case study examples, case study tips, and case study templates to help you create a case study that converts.

Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template

Click to jump ahead:

  • What is a Case Study?
  • Marketing Case Study Examples

Sales Case Study Examples

Simple case study examples, business case study examples.

  • Case Study FAQs

What is a case study?

A case study is a research method to gain a better understanding of a subject or process. Case studies involve in-depth research into a given subject, in order to understand its functionality and successes.

In the context of a business, however, case studies take customer success stories and explore how they use your product to help them achieve their business goals.

Case Study Definition LinkedIn Post

As well as being valuable marketing tools, case studies are a good way to evaluate your product as it allows you to objectively examine how others are using it.

It’s also a good way to interview your customers about why they work with you.

Related: What is a Case Study? [+6 Types of Case Studies]

What is a marketing case study?

A marketing case study is a type of marketing where you use your existing customers as an example of what your product or services can achieve. You can also create case studies of internal, successful marketing projects.

Here’s an example of a marketing case study template:

marketing case study example

Return to Table of Contents

Marketing case study examples

Marketing case studies are incredibly useful for showing your marketing successes. Every successful marketing campaign relies on influencing a consumer’s behavior, and a great case study can be a great way to spotlight your biggest wins.

In the marketing case study examples below, a variety of designs and techniques to create impactful and effective case studies.

Show off impressive results with a bold marketing case study

Case studies are meant to show off your successes, so make sure you feature your positive results prominently. Using bold and bright colors as well as contrasting shapes, large bold fonts, and simple icons is a great way to highlight your wins.

In well-written case study examples like the one below, the big wins are highlighted on the second page with a bright orange color and are highlighted in circles.

Making the important data stand out is especially important when attracting a prospective customer with marketing case studies.

Light simplebusiness case study template

Use a simple but clear layout in your case study

Using a simple layout in your case study can be incredibly effective, like in the example of a case study below.

Keeping a clean white background, and using slim lines to help separate the sections is an easy way to format your case study.

Making the information clear helps draw attention to the important results, and it helps improve the  accessibility of the design .

Business case study examples like this would sit nicely within a larger report, with a consistent layout throughout.

Modern lead Generaton Business Case Study Template

Use visuals and icons to create an engaging and branded business case study

Nobody wants to read pages and pages of text — and that’s why Venngage wants to help you communicate your ideas visually.

Using icons, graphics, photos, or patterns helps create a much more engaging design. 

With this Blue Cap case study icons, colors, and impactful pattern designs have been used to create an engaging design that catches your eye.

Social Media Business Case Study template

Use a monochromatic color palette to create a professional and clean case study

Let your research shine by using a monochromatic and minimalistic color palette.

By sticking to one color, and leaving lots of blank space you can ensure your design doesn’t distract a potential customer from your case study content.

Color combination examples

In this case study on Polygon Media, the design is simple and professional, and the layout allows the prospective customer to follow the flow of information.

The gradient effect on the left-hand column helps break up the white background and adds an interesting visual effect.

Gray Lead Generation Business Case Study Template

Did you know you can generate an accessible color palette with Venngage? Try our free accessible color palette generator today and create a case study that delivers and looks pleasant to the eye:

Venngage's accessible color palette generator

Add long term goals in your case study

When creating a case study it’s a great idea to look at both the short term and the long term goals of the company to gain the best understanding possible of the insights they provide.

Short-term goals will be what the company or person hopes to achieve in the next few months, and long-term goals are what the company hopes to achieve in the next few years.

Check out this modern pattern design example of a case study below:

Lead generation business case study template

In this case study example, the short and long-term goals are clearly distinguished by light blue boxes and placed side by side so that they are easy to compare.

Lead generation case study example short term goals

Use a strong introductory paragraph to outline the overall strategy and goals before outlining the specific short-term and long-term goals to help with clarity.

This strategy can also be handy when creating a consulting case study.

Use data to make concrete points about your sales and successes

When conducting any sort of research stats, facts, and figures are like gold dust (aka, really valuable).

Being able to quantify your findings is important to help understand the information fully. Saying sales increased 10% is much more effective than saying sales increased.

In sales case study examples, like this one, the key data and findings can be presented with icons. This contributes to the potential customer’s better understanding of the report.

They can clearly comprehend the information and it shows that the case study has been well researched.

Vibrant Content Marketing Case Study Template

Use emotive, persuasive, or action based language in your marketing case study

Create a compelling case study by using emotive, persuasive and action-based language when customizing your case study template.

Case study example pursuasive language

In this well-written case study example, we can see that phrases such as “Results that Speak Volumes” and “Drive Sales” have been used.

Using persuasive language like you would in a blog post. It helps inspire potential customers to take action now.

Bold Content Marketing Case Study Template

Keep your potential customers in mind when creating a customer case study for marketing

82% of marketers use case studies in their marketing  because it’s such an effective tool to help quickly gain customers’ trust and to showcase the potential of your product.

Why are case studies such an important tool in content marketing?

By writing a case study you’re telling potential customers that they can trust you because you’re showing them that other people do.

Not only that, but if you have a SaaS product, business case studies are a great way to show how other people are effectively using your product in their company.

In this case study, Network is demonstrating how their product has been used by Vortex Co. with great success; instantly showing other potential customers that their tool works and is worth using.

Teal Social Media Business Case Study Template

Related: 10+ Case Study Infographic Templates That Convert

Case studies are particularly effective as a sales technique.

A sales case study is like an extended customer testimonial, not only sharing opinions of your product – but showcasing the results you helped your customer achieve.

Make impactful statistics pop in your sales case study

Writing a case study doesn’t mean using text as the only medium for sharing results.

You should use icons to highlight areas of your research that are particularly interesting or relevant, like in this example of a case study:

Coral content marketing case study template.jpg

Icons are a great way to help summarize information quickly and can act as visual cues to help draw the customer’s attention to certain areas of the page.

In some of the business case study examples above, icons are used to represent the impressive areas of growth and are presented in a way that grabs your attention.

Use high contrast shapes and colors to draw attention to key information in your sales case study

Help the key information stand out within your case study by using high contrast shapes and colors.

Use a complementary or contrasting color, or use a shape such as a rectangle or a circle for maximum impact.

Blue case study example case growth

This design has used dark blue rectangles to help separate the information and make it easier to read.

Coupled with icons and strong statistics, this information stands out on the page and is easily digestible and retainable for a potential customer.

Blue Content Marketing Case Study Tempalte

Less is often more, and this is especially true when it comes to creating designs. Whilst you want to create a professional-looking, well-written and design case study – there’s no need to overcomplicate things.

These simple case study examples show that smart clean designs and informative content can be an effective way to showcase your successes.

Use colors and fonts to create a professional-looking case study

Business case studies shouldn’t be boring. In fact, they should be beautifully and professionally designed.

This means the normal rules of design apply. Use fonts, colors, and icons to create an interesting and visually appealing case study.

In this case study example, we can see how multiple fonts have been used to help differentiate between the headers and content, as well as complementary colors and eye-catching icons.

Blue Simple Business Case Study Template

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, business case studies can be a powerful resource to help with your sales, marketing, and even internal departmental awareness.

Business and business management case studies should encompass strategic insights alongside anecdotal and qualitative findings, like in the business case study examples below.

Conduct a B2B case study by researching the company holistically

When it comes to writing a case study, make sure you approach the company holistically and analyze everything from their social media to their sales.

Think about every avenue your product or service has been of use to your case study company, and ask them about the impact this has had on their wider company goals.

Venngage orange marketing case study example

In business case study examples like the one above, we can see that the company has been thought about holistically simply by the use of icons.

By combining social media icons with icons that show in-person communication we know that this is a well-researched and thorough case study.

This case study report example could also be used within an annual or end-of-year report.

Highlight the key takeaway from your marketing case study

To create a compelling case study, identify the key takeaways from your research. Use catchy language to sum up this information in a sentence, and present this sentence at the top of your page.

This is “at a glance” information and it allows people to gain a top-level understanding of the content immediately. 

Purple SAAS Business Case Study Template

You can use a large, bold, contrasting font to help this information stand out from the page and provide interest.

Learn  how to choose fonts  effectively with our Venngage guide and once you’ve done that.

Upload your fonts and  brand colors  to Venngage using the  My Brand Kit  tool and see them automatically applied to your designs.

The heading is the ideal place to put the most impactful information, as this is the first thing that people will read.

In this example, the stat of “Increase[d] lead quality by 90%” is used as the header. It makes customers want to read more to find out how exactly lead quality was increased by such a massive amount.

Purple SAAS Business Case Study Template Header

If you’re conducting an in-person interview, you could highlight a direct quote or insight provided by your interview subject.

Pick out a catchy sentence or phrase, or the key piece of information your interview subject provided and use that as a way to draw a potential customer in.

Use charts to visualize data in your business case studies

Charts are an excellent way to visualize data and to bring statistics and information to life. Charts make information easier to understand and to illustrate trends or patterns.

Making charts is even easier with Venngage.

In this consulting case study example, we can see that a chart has been used to demonstrate the difference in lead value within the Lead Elves case study.

Adding a chart here helps break up the information and add visual value to the case study. 

Red SAAS Business Case Study Template

Using charts in your case study can also be useful if you’re creating a project management case study.

You could use a Gantt chart or a project timeline to show how you have managed the project successfully.

event marketing project management gantt chart example

Use direct quotes to build trust in your marketing case study

To add an extra layer of authenticity you can include a direct quote from your customer within your case study.

According to research from Nielsen , 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer and 70% trust recommendations even if they’re from somebody they don’t know.

Case study peer recommendation quote

So if you have a customer or client who can’t stop singing your praises, make sure you get a direct quote from them and include it in your case study.

You can either lift part of the conversation or interview, or you can specifically request a quote. Make sure to ask for permission before using the quote.

Contrast Lead Generation Business Case Study Template

This design uses a bright contrasting speech bubble to show that it includes a direct quote, and helps the quote stand out from the rest of the text.

This will help draw the customer’s attention directly to the quote, in turn influencing them to use your product or service.

Case Study Examples Summary

Once you have created your case study, it’s best practice to update your examples on a regular basis to include up-to-date statistics, data, and information.

You should update your business case study examples often if you are sharing them on your website .

It’s also important that your case study sits within your brand guidelines – find out how Venngage’s My Brand Kit tool can help you create consistently branded case study templates.

Case studies are important marketing tools – but they shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox. Content marketing is also a valuable way to earn consumer trust.

Case Study FAQ

Why should you write a case study.

Case studies are an effective marketing technique to engage potential customers and help build trust.

By producing case studies featuring your current clients or customers, you are showcasing how your tool or product can be used. You’re also showing that other people endorse your product.

In addition to being a good way to gather positive testimonials from existing customers , business case studies are good educational resources and can be shared amongst your company or team, and used as a reference for future projects.

How should you write a case study?

To create a great case study, you should think strategically. The first step, before starting your case study research, is to think about what you aim to learn or what you aim to prove.

You might be aiming to learn how a company makes sales or develops a new product. If this is the case, base your questions around this.

You can learn more about writing a case study  from our extensive guide.

Related: How to Present a Case Study like a Pro (With Examples)

Some good questions you could ask would be:

  • Why do you use our tool or service?
  • How often do you use our tool or service?
  • What does the process of using our product look like to you?
  • If our product didn’t exist, what would you be doing instead?
  • What is the number one benefit you’ve found from using our tool?

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  • Open access
  • Published: 14 December 2023

A qualitative study to explore student learning and development of interprofessional collaboration during an online interprofessional education intervention

  • Hailah Almoghirah 1 ,
  • Jan Illing 2 , 3 &
  • Hamde Nazar 4  

BMC Medical Education volume  23 , Article number:  957 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

Metrics details

Interprofessional education (IPE) during undergraduate education and training has been found to improve collaboration between health care students. This supports interprofessional working in clinical practice to enhance patient safety and care delivery.

Undergraduate students from pharmacy and medical programmes worked online in pairs to review notes of hospital patients due to be discharged. Students were tasked to complete a discharge letter and undertake an online consultation with a simulated patient prior to discharge. Online interactions were recorded and assessed using a validated tool to measure interprofessional professionalism. Students undertook this intervention in different pairings with different patient cases for three iterations after receiving feedback and undertaking a reflective exercise.

The aim was to investigate the student learning and development that could be used to inform intervention optimisation and scale-up.

Qualitative data were collected from different sources. Method triangulation was employed to develop a comprehensive understanding of the student learning and development. Data was collected from written feedback provided by the assessment team, student reflections on their performance, and from semi-structured interviews conducted with the student pairs and one to one with the assessment team. Content and thematic analysis was used to analyse these data and the Kirkpatrick/Barr evaluation model provided a framework to organise the themes.

Eighteen students (nine from each professional programme) completed the study and a total of 27 IPE sessions were conducted. The assessment team completed 54 assessment tools and 31 student reflections were received (from a maximum of 36). Students were interviewed in their interprofessional pairs to yield nine interview transcripts and one interview was conducted with the assessment team.

Students reported and were observed to improve in interprofessional collaboration over the three iterations following feedback and rehearsal opportunities. Longitudinal observation and assessment of student interprofessional working in changing teams provided the opportunity to capture the influence of interdependence on student performance and assessment of competence.

Peer Review reports

Introduction

It is well established that teamworking and good communication between healthcare professionals contributes to positive patient outcomes, improved patient safety and job satisfaction within the healthcare workforce [ 1 , 2 , 3 ]. In particular, collaborative doctor-pharmacist team-based care has been found to have a positive effect on the management of chronic disease and has reduced the occurrence of medical errors during the transition from hospital in-patient back to primary care [ 3 , 4 ]. However, there are many reported barriers to working collaboratively, for example existing or perceived hierarchical structures; complexity of healthcare systems and procedures, and silo working [ 5 , 6 ].

Interprofessional education (IPE) within undergraduate and professional training has been identified as a strategy to help improve teamworking and collaborative communication between different healthcare professions [ 7 ].

Educators are challenged to design and create educational and training experiences that provide learners the opportunity to collaborate meaningfully and develop knowledge, skills, and behaviours to support collaborative practice [ 8 , 9 ]. There is significant IPE scholarship and research which advocate for authentic learning experiences with a high level of fidelity, delivered as a longitudinal programme of experiences, rather than ad hoc isolated sessions with provision of feedback for learners [ 9 , 10 ]. These are most likely to lead to a sustained impact on the developing skills and behaviours that support later effective working in interprofessional teams.

In this study, we aim to investigate if and how an IPE intervention, facilitated students to become more collaborative. Undergraduate medical and pharmacy students participated in an online IPE intervention that focused on the transition of care from hospital in-patient to primary care. The framework of entrustable professional activities (EPAs) informed the design of this intervention as hospital discharge planning is an identified clinical activity likely to require interprofessional collaboration. Researchers have contested the use of EPAs, which are about entrustment of individuals based on their competence, within the field of IPE, which is about interprofessional collaboration. However, there is recognition that some EPAs are dependent upon interprofessional working and authors acknowledge that assessing interprofessional collaborative competence (reflecting team competencies) is important when assessing EPAs and making entrustment decisions (a unit of professional practice that can be fully entrusted to a trainee, once he or she has demonstrated the necessary competence to execute this activity unsupervised) [ 11 ]. The students in this study were assessed and provided with feedback on their individual performance and had the opportunity to undertake the intervention two more times with other students and using further patient cases to apply their learning into practice. In our previous work, we showed that student interprofessional behaviour statistically improved over the three iterations [ 12 ]. In this work, we provide greater insight into the ‘ how ’ and ‘ why ’ students developed through this longitudinal experience which could facilitate how educators reconcile using the individually focussed EPAs in the team-based context of IPE.

Our qualitative study adopted method triangulation of data from a range of sources to investigate in-depth student learning and development. The Consolidated criteria for Reporting Qualitative research Checklist (COREQ) has been used in the reporting of this study [ 13 ]. The completed checklist is included in the Supplementary information .

Participants

A detailed description of the intervention is included in our previous work; [ 12 ] however, we provide a brief outline here. Undergraduate students from year five (final year) of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and years three and four (final two years) of the Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) programmes were invited by email through the course coordinators to participate in this study. These students were identified to already have knowledge about the discharge process and previous experience with IPE. The EPA framework was used to design the session and collaborative activities for students [ 14 , 15 , 16 ]. Real clinical notes of patients due to be discharged from a local hospital were sourced and anonymised by a clinical pharmacist from the hospital briefed about the intervention. Participants were tasked to meet online (using Zoom: A spatial data visualization tool. (Version 2.0.6) [ 17 ] to collaboratively review the patient notes, prepare a patient discharge letter and then undertake a patient consultation to counsel the simulated patient prior to discharge.

Each student was required to complete three IPE sessions 2–3 weeks apart, each taking one hour and were paired with a different student and were provided with a new patient case. Thus, mimicking the transient nature of team working in healthcare. Students were provided with an instructional video at the beginning to describe the educational intervention and asked to complete the consent form to participate as research participants. One day before each scheduled online session, students were provided with the patient case and a template for the discharge letter. During the online session, one medical student and one pharmacy student worked collaboratively to review and discuss the patient notes and prepare a discharge letter. The students were then joined by the simulated patient to undertake a consultation about their hospital discharge. The sessions were recorded with consent and later used for assessing student performance (as described in our previous work) by an assessment team (an academic pharmacist and a general practitioner).

Data collection

Student behavioural performance was captured using a validated tool, the Interprofessional Professionalism Assessment tool (IPA) which consists of six domains: communication, respect, altruism and caring, excellence, ethics and accountability (covering 26 items) [ 18 ]. Assessors also provided written feedback against these domains. These qualitative comments from the IPA tool were collected and matched with each student across the IPE iterations.

Students were provided with their respective IPA scores and comments via the lead research (AH) after each IPE session and asked to reflect on their performance and future learning objectives ( What did you do well? What areas did you find challenging? What do you plan to improve?). The written answers to these three questions were also collected, and again matched with each student across the IPE iterations. There are other studies which have successfully analysed student reflections following interprofessional educational interventions. This has been done to investigate student learning from such experiences [ 19 , 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ].

After completing all three IPE sessions, students were involved in an interview to explore their perceptions of the intervention and their learning and development. Interviews were conducted following the last IPE session, so included student pairs.

Lastly, the assessors ( n  = 2) who reviewed the recorded student performance and completed the IPA tool were interviewed together to explore their perceptions and experiences of the intervention, mode of assessment and observed student learning and development. Assessors were provided with information about the study and asked to provide oral consent before participating in the interview.

One assessor was an academic pharmacist with over ten years of educational experience with specific health service research interest in improving hospital to home discharge care; the other assessor was a practicing general practitioner with over five years of educational experience and ten years of clinical practice.

Interview schedules are included in the Supplementary information . All interviews were audio recorded with consent and transcribed verbatim. The sources of qualitative data after each IPE session illustrated in Fig.  1 .

figure 1

Sources of qualitative data after each IPE session

Figure  1 illustrates the sources of qualitative data after each IPE session.

Data analysis

The data were managed and coded using NVivo 1.2 (426) (QSR International). Manifest content analysis was used to analyse the IPA qualitative comments and the student reflections [ 25 ]. Thematic analysis was used to analyse interview data using Braun & Clarke’s, six phases: familiarisation, data coding, generating initial themes, developing, and reviewing themes, refining, defining, and naming themes and writing matters for analysis. A combination of inductive and deductive approaches where used [ 26 ]. Initially, inductive coding facilitated the generation of themes from identified codes. The Kirkpatrick/Barr evaluation model [ 27 ] was then used as a conceptual framework to help organise the themes. The initial coding was conducted by HA then shared, discussed, and reviewed with the wider research team.

Once all data was analysed, the researcher iteratively compared across the data, particularly data from the different sources across the same student and across the three iterations, to explore convergence, complementarity, and dissonance. The researcher aimed to develop a comprehensive understanding of individual student journeys and of the collective. This approach is also recognised to increase the credibility and dependability of the findings and interpretations [ 28 ].

To improve the trustworthiness of the analysis and interpretation, different approaches have been used [ 29 ]. During the intervention, we documented all steps. We undertook iterative data collection from different viewpoints. Then, the data were iteratively analysed, and the analysis was shared and discussed with the research team. Member checking was conducted with one of the assessors to clarify some points in the interview and increase understanding prior to analysis. In our previous work, [ 12 ] we included a comprehensive description of the IPE intervention and assessment. We have used the COREQ checklist for reporting the study and provided a detailed description about the methods of data collection, data analysis.

Ethical approval

Ethical approved was obtained from the University Ethics Committee at Newcastle University before starting the study (reference number: 5299/2020) and written consent was obtained from all participants before data collection.

Eighteen students completed this study: nine medical students and nine pharmacy students. A total of 27 IPE sessions (nine pairs of students completing three IPE sessions) were completed and the assessment team completed 54 IPA assessments across the three IPE iterations. We received 31 reflections from the students while three students failed to send their feedback on five occasions. Nine interviews were conducted with participants in pairs and one interview was conducted with the assessment team.

The themes from the data were organised using the Kirkpatrick/Barr evaluation model, which are: reaction to the intervention; modification of attitudes and perceptions; behavioural change, and benefit to patient. Data from this study did not map to the domain of changing organisational practice.

The themes are presented below with illustrative quotes. We depict whether the quote originated from a medical or pharmacy student or from an assessor (M: medical student ( n  = 9), P: pharmacy student ( n  = 9), A: assessor ( n  = 2)), and from which data source (I: interview ( n  = 9, one per student pair), R: student reflection ( n  = 2 per student), IPA ( n  = 3 per student): comment included in the IPA tool).

Reaction to the intervention

After the first sessions, some students felt challenged and expressed feelings of struggling to work with someone else for first time.

" I think it’s just the first time, I've not really done anything like this before. So, everything was new, I didn’t know what my role was. I didn’t know what to expect of the pharmacy student" (M6, I).

After receiving the assessor feedback and then repeating the session, reactions improved as students expressed that they felt that they knew what to do and they felt that the session activities were closely linked to their future practice.

"We worked together well despite not knowing each other which was very representative of real-life situations in the world of work " (P8, R1).

After the third session, student awareness about the importance of interprofessional working improved and they became more engaged with the other professions' perspective. Also, students enjoyed the experience and found it useful for their education.

" I struggled to understand what is the role of other healthcare professionals in this particular scenario. But…with three sessions I progressively saw it more and more useful and figured out how better to work with our Pharmacy colleague" (M3, I).

The assessors also acknowledged that these IPE activities related well to real practice and the tasks were appropriate for students to work together to deliver safe and effective care.

" So, I really like the authenticity of that. The next thing was they were doing the activity, which they would actually have to do in practice. So again, the authenticity is really high" (A2, I).

Modification of attitudes and perceptions

After the first sessions, teamwork was reported as an issue with many of the students. Some found themselves doing all the work without involving their colleagues, while other students relied on their colleague to do the bulk of the activity.

" I felt that I took on the lead role with the discussion with the patient at the end" (M7, R1).
"Potentially taking some time to get to know other colleagues in a professional sense may help more shy or passive personalities engage more" (P4, IPA1).

After the second sessions, students began to be more positive about their experience of teamworking and they became more comfortable and confident when working with each other. However, for some the role of each other was still not completely clear and some were struggling to contribute more assertively in the session.

"Easy collaborative approach demonstrating initiative and confidence in contribution" (P3, IPA2).
"I feel there was better communication between me and the medic and I felt more comfortable with them" (P4, R2).
" It was also a bit confusing as to which part shall I talk about and which part should the pharmacist talk about [in the patient consultation] " (M9, R2).

On completing the third sessions, student attitudes were improved when working with their colleagues such as respecting each other, becoming more confident and comfortable, giving each other space, asking each other questions, etc. As a result, students felt that these attitudes led to better teamwork.

"We needed time to figure out what’s going on and get more confident with what we are doing. And therefore, we ended up working as a better team…as the sessions progressed" (M3, I).
" No significant areas for improvement. Generally good collaborative approach" (P8, IPA3).

The assessors also mentioned the positive attitudes demonstrated by students during the sessions which contributed to teamwork such as asking each other questions and clarifying each other’s roles. Assessors felt that providing feedback to students about their performance was an important facilitator in attitude improvement.

"I think the fact that they were able to get feedback after each of the iterations were really helpful because they could see the comments around whether they talked enough or didn't talk enough. Or weren't proactive enough… how they manage the patient. And when you saw their reflective answers to the questions they were asked, you could see that they'd actually consider that, that feedback. And then when you saw the next time, it was really interesting to see how they had or hadn't taken that on board and changed and adapted" (A1, I).

Acquisition of knowledge and skills

Initially, students grappled to understand the role of each other in the context of the IPE tasks.

" I guess in the first session that was a challenge of understanding our roles as practitioners and what to expect from one another" (M6, I).
" Spending a moment to verify each other’s roles and potential contribution to this scenario would have been helpful in ensuring an organized approach to the task" (M2, IPA1).

As the sessions progressed, students gained this understanding which facilitated more collaborative dynamics.

"Worked better with pharmacist as I understood their role and my role in completing the task" (M1, R2).
"Very open to learn from others and this sets good foundation for interprofessional working" (P6, IPA2).

On completing the third sessions, students not only agreed about learning more about each other’s roles but also about the importance of each profession in providing safe and effective care for patients.

"… so it’s not this hierarchy that people think about medical doctors, you can’t speak to pharmacy students, we have to work together. I think learning how important it is to have two professions, that really brought it out, this experience helped me see this" (P9, I).

The assessors supported this in their reported observations of students asking each other about their roles and responsibilities and how this enabled more open communication.

“ I think they also learned about a non-hierarchical type of communication style, you know that both parties could contribute to the situation" (A1, I).

Behavioural change

Some students initially demonstrated good communication and teamwork, whilst some students struggled to work effectively in a team. This was exemplified where some students mentioned that they did not manage the tasks well, with no clear delineation of roles.

"Unfortunately, the pharmacist had to complete the discharge letter whilst I talked to the patient rather than us both doing it together" (M7, R1).
"…, it would have been safer to briefly plan how to manage the consultation since you are still quite unfamiliar with each other and each other’s potential approach to consultations " (P3, IPA1).

However, by the second sessions, student awareness appeared to improve. Students mentioned some strategies that helped collaboration, such as giving each other a chance and space to talk, becoming clearer in their communication, and behaving more confidently with each other.

"I demonstrated confidence and gave equal input as the other student" (P7, R2).
"Open, relaxed and engaging approach to communication" (M4, IPA2).

By the third sessions, students described their behaviours with positivity.

"We were able to communicate effectively and most of the times we'd agree, but when we don’t, we resolved it quite quickly on which way to go with it" ( P6, I).
"Made valuable contributions where appropriate, and was not overly verbose. So gave the appearance of quiet confidence which is reassuring" (P8, IPA3).

Students explained more techniques to collaborate with their colleagues, such as trusting each other, allowing each other a chance to contribute and splitting of responsibilities.

"I think, from the feedback I received, it was a relaxed environment with me and the medical student and it said that there was good interaction between us and good teamwork and collaboration. There wasn’t like silence all the time" (P9, I).

The assessors observed student behaviours generally improved across the IPE sessions. They described that the feedback on performance would have facilitated this as students were provided with some insight about how they behaved so that they could consider this and work to improve. However, the assessors mentioned that some students continued to struggle with some behaviour such as body language despite feedback and repetition. They opined that maybe this could have been due to personal characteristics, the influence of the person they were working with, the difficulty of the patient cases or they simply they didn’t understand the feedback provided.

"So globally there was improvement" (A1, I).
"Despite they improved, you could tell that the person they've worked with impacted their performance. So maybe they could have improved further if the person they're working with was more positive." (A1, I).

Benefit to patient

For this theme, the student self-perception about patient experience and assessors' comments were used as proxy measures.

After the first sessions, students were positive about their communication with patients, and they felt that they dealt with the patient expressed need and provided the required care.

"Talked with the patient well and patient felt happy with description of care to be provided  " (M6, R1).
"Person-centred with clear patient consultation " (P9, IPA1).

After the second sessions, students continued to feel positive with the patient outcome where they had demonstrated person-centred care, communicated clearly, and provided a comprehensive consultation. However, some students mentioned struggling to answer patient questions.

"We collaborated and focused on the patient’s needs and concerns" (P7, R2).
"I think that I struggled most to answer patient questions in which I was not confident in the answer. I found myself responding that I didn't know or would find out, which I was worried might look unprofessional and not satisfy some patients" (M4, R2).

After the third sessions, students used and mentioned a number of techniques they found useful to help ensure a positive experience for the patient such as creating a relaxed environment during consultation, demonstrating empathy, giving space to ask questions, listening to their concerns, trying to be professional, not overloading the patient with information and trying to understand the patient perspective.

"Was empathetic with the patient, considered her particular concerns and responded reassuringly" (P7, IPA3).
"I think the patient in all three cases left quite happy and they’d had all their questions answered, so I feel that we communicated well with them and with each other" (P3, I).

The assessors agreed that students were professional and that there was harmonisation between students when conducting the consultation which reflected interprofessional collaboration.

"There was an element of synchronising who was going to say what; they had to both, you know, come across as really professional and negotiate how the patient was responding" (A2, I).

Further details and quotations are provided in the Supplementary information .

For some students, three iterations of the interprofessional education session led to a positive change in their teamworking and communication. In Table 1 , we illustrate a journey of two students who demonstrated positive development across three iterations. In this example, the medical student (M7) initially demonstrated a dominant and verbose personality and approach, which was perceived as overly assertive by their pharmacist counterpart (P7). Conversely, the pharmacy student (P7) portrayed a passive demeanour at the outset. However, over the three sessions, we observe M7 developing a more considerate and inclusive communication approach and P7 becoming more assertive and engaging. This is reflected both in their respective partner’s perception of the interaction and the comments provided by the assessment team.

This study demonstrated that interprofessional working can improve with three iterations following feedback and further rehearsal opportunities. In our previous work, we were able to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement with rehearsal, while this study, illustrated evidence of improved collaboration [ 12 ].

The iterative nature of the intervention with feedback enabled students to reflect on their performance and make further adjustments so that they were supported to become more self-aware and purposefully develop. This observation is supported by Kolb's Experiential learning theory [ 30 ] where students learn by experience, reflection, and further development in a cyclical way. Reflective practice in interprofessional education interventions is not new. Positive experiences using reflective practice in pharmacy and other health care professions has been published previously in the literature [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ]. These studies showed that reflective practice did faciltate students towardss continuous improvement and skills development [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ].

Providing students with personal feedback enables feedforward as advised in literature [ 31 , 32 , 33 ]. In the main, previous IPE interventions have been a one-off session or delivered in a longitudinal manner and the students were assessed either using pre/post or just post assessment [ 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 ]. Students in these studies did not receive feedback nor were they facilitated to reflect on their performance and given another opportunity to put the feedback into practice as in our intervention.

The authentic learning experience with a simulated patient and adopting the premise of EPAs was positively received and our multi-assessment approach allowed us to successfully capture the impact of the IPE intervention across most of Kirkpatrick/Barr evaluation levels. Other similar studies have generally focused on assessing if the IPE activities impacted learners across one or two specific levels of Kirkpatrick/Barr evaluation model; either learner’s reaction, modification of attitudes and perceptions, behavioural change, or patient benefit [ 34 , 35 , 36 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 ].

The opportunity to observe student performance with different student partners has highlighted how behaviours and approaches of a student can influence how their counterpart then behaves and performs. This is otherwise known as interdependence: " patterns of interaction between individuals, working collaboratively, that can afford or constrain one's performance and potentially shape the practice of a broader healthcare team " [ 41 ] (p2). It is important for educators to consider interdependence during student assessment, especially in the context of EPAs that are inherently dependent upon interprofessional working. Some IPE assessment tools identified in literature have some items that try to capture the nature of interdependence, whilst some tools offer a space for qualitative comments such as textual feedback [ 42 ]. In our study, the assessors recorded qualitative comments in the IPA tool to describe the dynamics between the students and observations about its impact on performance. To our knowledge, this is the first IPE study which has required students to work collaboratively on the same task with different colleagues and has enabled the impact of interdependence to be clearly demonstrated.

Our study is limited by the small number of participants, recruited from just two programmes from one institution. It is possible that these students were more motivated than other students and the pharmacy tutor was known to the students, hence scaling up to a full cohort is important. However, we have compensated by capturing, analysing, and triangulating data from different sources to best investigate our research question. The student interviews were conducted in pairs. This could have meant that potential power dynamics may have impacted how the students responded and interacted within the interview. As with many educational interventional studies, a longer period to assess the sustained impact of the intervention would be invaluable [ 43 ]. However, our study findings strongly suggest that any endeavour to develop interprofessional collaboration between undergraduate healthcare students is best delivered iteratively with opportunity for feedback and reflection. This study also lacks the patient perspective on student interprofessional collaboration which could represent another patient outcome.

Our intervention was focussed on the discharge process, but the approach of conducting this intervention could be generalised to other scenarios where interprofessional working might be expected, e.g., care planning, solving patient safety issues. From our work, we would recommend that educators aiming to design and deliver IPE interventions with an assessment should consider the following strategies: framing their IPE intervention around EPA's that depend upon interprofessional working; providing multiple opportunities for the students to complete it with different peers and provide multiple opportunities for the students to get feedback and engage in reflection.

Interprofessional collaboration improved after three iterations following individual feedback and further rehearsal opportunities. Having a quantitative measure is important to assess the student's performance but having the opportunity to provide qualitative feedback is also important to gain greater understanding of student performance and capturing the impact of interdependence. Future work could assess this educational and assessment approach in other IPE environments or scenarios on a larger scale. Also, collecting feedback from the patient and peer would provide further perspectives about students' interprofessional collaboration.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

Hailah Almoghirah acknowledges the funding that she received as a scholarship from King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

This research was supported by a scholarship from King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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This work was conducted as part of a Ph.D by HA under the supervision and guidance of JI and HN. JI, HN and HA conceived and designed the study, and HA undertook data collection. All authors were involved in the data analyses, interpretation, and write up for the preparation of this manuscript.

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Almoghirah, H., Illing, J. & Nazar, H. A qualitative study to explore student learning and development of interprofessional collaboration during an online interprofessional education intervention. BMC Med Educ 23 , 957 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-023-04885-y

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Title: stable rivers: a case study in the application of text-to-image generative models for earth sciences.

Abstract: Text-to-image (TTI) generative models can be used to generate photorealistic images from a given text-string input. These models offer great potential to mitigate challenges to the uptake of machine learning in the earth sciences. However, the rapid increase in their use has raised questions about fairness and biases, with most research to-date focusing on social and cultural areas rather than domain-specific considerations. We conducted a case study for the earth sciences, focusing on the field of fluvial geomorphology, where we evaluated subject-area specific biases in the training data and downstream model performance of Stable Diffusion (v1.5). In addition to perpetuating Western biases, we found that the training data over-represented scenic locations, such as famous rivers and waterfalls, and showed serious under- and over-representation of many morphological and environmental terms. Despite biased training data, we found that with careful prompting, the Stable Diffusion model was able to generate photorealistic synthetic river images reproducing many important environmental and morphological characteristics. Furthermore, conditional control techniques, such as the use of condition maps with ControlNet were effective for providing additional constraints on output images. Despite great potential for the use of TTI models in the earth sciences field, we advocate for caution in sensitive applications, and advocate for domain-specific reviews of training data and image generation biases to mitigate perpetuation of existing biases.

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Subway Five Forces Analysis & Recommendations (Porter’s Model)

Subway Five Forces analysis, competition, customers, suppliers, substitution, new entry entrants, competitors, restaurant business case study

This Five Forces analysis of Subway examines the global foodservice industry and the related external factors that influence competitive pressures on the company. In Michael Porter’s Five Forces analysis model, these external factors in the quick-service restaurant market determine the Five Forces, namely, competition, buyer power, supplier power, substitution threat, and new entry threat. Subway’s growth in its multinational operations shows business capabilities to overcome challenges linked to the Five Forces. As one of the leading fast-food restaurant chains in the world, the company finds success in its strategies accounting for competitive forces in the industry. Still, innovative changes in the business organization can offer additional support for long-term growth despite the issues examined in this Five Forces analysis of Subway.

Overcoming the competitive forces in this Five Forces analysis case creates opportunities for reaching Subway’s mission and vision and related strategic goals and objectives. Strategic planning and managerial decisions that account for the external factors in this Five Forces analysis empower Subway’s quick-service restaurant chain to grow in the international market.

Summary: Porter’s Five Forces Analysis of Subway

This Five Forces analysis of Subway illustrates strong competitive rivalry, as well as related external factors affecting the five forces. The following are the intensities of these five forces influencing Subway:

  • Competition: Strong
  • Buyer Power: Moderate
  • Supplier Power: Weak
  • Threat of Substitutes: Moderate
  • Threat of New Entrants: Moderate

Recommendations. The results of this Five Forces analysis determine that Subway experiences strong competition that relates to market saturation. The bargaining power of customers, the threat of substitution, and the threat of new entry are moderate (considerable but limited) in influencing the fast-food restaurant chain. The bargaining power of suppliers is weak because of Subway’s large size and purchasing power. This Five Forces analysis of Subway warrants the following recommendations:

  • Invest in product innovation and market penetration using Subway’s competitive strategy and growth strategies to ensure competitive advantages and business growth.
  • Develop strategies for business diversification to grow the business despite the saturation of the foodservice market.
  • Implement aggressive marketing campaigns to strengthen Subway’s brand and protect its business against competitors and new entrants.

Competition with Subway

This element of the Five Forces analysis evaluates competitors’ ability to attract consumers and increase their market share. The strong force of competition with Subway is based on the following external factors:

  • High number of foodservice firms
  • High aggressiveness of firms
  • Low-moderate brand loyalty

This Five Forces analysis of Subway evaluates competition with foodservice firms, including multinational fast-food restaurant chains, like McDonald’s , Burger King , and Wendy’s , as well as coffeehouse chains, such as Starbucks . The foodservice market is saturated with many firms of different types, sizes, and specialties. Based on Porter’s Five Forces analysis model, market saturation strengthens the force of competitive rivalry that Subway experiences. The related factor of firms’ high aggressiveness increases the strength of competition in the fast-food restaurant industry. Furthermore, the low to moderate brand loyalty of consumers strengthens the force of competition in this Five Forces analysis case. For example, diners looking for a different taste or cuisine can easily switch from Subway to competitors.

Bargaining Power of Customers

Customers’ influence on the restaurant business is evaluated in this element of Porter’s Five Forces analysis model. The following external factors are responsible for the moderate bargaining power of customers over Subway:

  • Foodservice firms’ low-moderate differentiation
  • Small size of individual customers
  • Consumers’ high price sensitivity

Many foodservice firms offer similar menus of similar food and drinks, while some restaurants offer some differentiation in terms of cuisine, spiciness, and other factors. The overall situation of firms’ low to moderate differentiation has a moderate contribution to the bargaining power of buyers or customers in this Five Forces analysis of Subway. On the other hand, individual buyers make small purchases compared to the company’s total revenues. In Porter’s Five Forces analysis model, this external factor minimizes the bargaining power of Subway’s customers. Furthermore, high price sensitivity means that consumers are highly likely to switch to competitors based on affordability. In this Five Forces analysis case, buyer power relates to the trends affecting consumers in the foodservice market, such as the social and economic trends shown in the PESTEL/PESTLE analysis of Subway.

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

This element of the Five Forces analysis examines suppliers’ leverage and ability to influence foodservice companies. The weak bargaining power of suppliers over Subway are based on the following external factors:

  • Suppliers’ moderate-high switching costs
  • Subway’s moderate ability to switch suppliers
  • High overall supply

Suppliers’ bargaining power over Subway is limited in this Five Forces analysis case because of their moderate to high switching costs. These costs involve the consequences of suppliers’ switching from the company to other buyers (other foodservice firms). These costs are moderate to high because Subway is a major buyer of ingredients and other input materials. On the other hand, the restaurant company’s large multinational size provides the moderate ability to switch from one supplier to another. This external factor also limits supplier power in this Five Forces analysis of Subway. Furthermore, the high overall supply can facilitate the restaurant chain’s switching from one supplier to another and reduce supplier power. Subway’s operations management, particularly for diversifying the supply chain, can improve the business despite supplier power and their impact in this Five Forces analysis case.

Threat of Substitutes

The likelihood and impact of substitution is examined in this Five Forces analysis of the foodservice business. The following external factors create the moderate substitution threat to Subway:

  • High availability of substitutes
  • Substitutes’ moderate price-performance ratio
  • Buyers’ low-moderate propensity to substitute

In this Five Forces analysis of Subway, the high availability of substitutes limits their threat to the submarine sandwich business. These substitutes include microwave meals, home-cooked meals, and food and beverage products available at grocery stores. Substitutes have moderate price-performance ratio based on moderate convenience, taste, dining experience, ambiance, and other variables, relative to Subway. This external factor sets the threat of substitution at a moderate level in Porter’s Five Forces analysis model. Moreover, consumers who are used to having Subway’s food and drinks have a low to moderate propensity to substitute. This condition is especially true for busy customers who prefer the speed, convenience, and quality of the company’s food and drinks. The strengths shown in the SWOT analysis of Subway can function as competitive advantages over substitutes. These competitive advantages help protect the submarine sandwich business against the threat of substitution evaluated in this Five Forces analysis.

Threat of New Entrants

This Five Forces analysis evaluates the effect of new entry on the fast-food company. The following external factors are responsible for new entrants’ moderate threat to Subway:

  • Consumers’ low switching costs
  • Moderate economies of scale

Consumers’ low switching costs equate to the ease of switching from Subway to new foodservice firms. In Porter’s Five Forces analysis model, this external factor strengthens the threat of new entry. New entrants need to compete with the moderate economies of scale of local, regional, and multinational franchise operations. This factor leads to the moderate threat of new entrants in this Five Forces analysis of Subway. Moreover, despite the company’s strong brand, brand loyalty is moderate because consumers can easily try food and drinks from new firms in the market. Based on the competitive situation in this Five Forces analysis, increasing the effectiveness of Subway’s marketing mix (4P) can reduce the adverse effect of new entrants on the company.

  • About Subway .
  • Bokrantz, J., & Dul, J. (2023). Building and testing necessity theories in supply chain management. Journal of Supply Chain Management, 59 (1), 48-65.
  • Dandis, A. O., Wallace-Williams, D. M., Ni, A. K., Wright, L. T., & Abu Siam, Y. I. (2023). The effect of brand experiences and relational benefits on loyalty in the fast-food restaurants. The TQM Journal, 35 (7), 2028-2051.
  • Martinez-Contreras, R. M., Hernandez-Mora, N. C., Vargas-Leguizamon, Y. R., & Borja-Barrera, S. M. (2022). PESTEL Analysis and the Porter’s Five Forces: An Integrated Model of Strategic Sectors. In Handbook of Research on Organizational Sustainability in Turbulent Economies (pp. 292-314). IGI Global.
  • Reshi, I. A., Dar, S. A., & Ansar, S. S. (2023). An empirical study on the factors affecting consumer behavior in the fast-food industry. Journal of Accounting Research, Utility Finance and Digital Assets, 1 (4), 376-381.
  • Subway – Responsible Sourcing .
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture – Economic Research Service – Food Service Industry Market Segments .
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    A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. Case studies can be used in various fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

  19. What the Case Study Method Really Teaches

    Nitin Nohria December 21, 2021 Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images Summary. It's been 100 years since Harvard Business School began using the case study method. Beyond teaching specific subject matter,...

  20. Case Study Research: Methods and Designs

    Case Study Model What Is The Case Study Method? Case study research is a great way to understand the nuances of a matter that can get lost in quantitative research methods. A case study is distinct from other qualitative studies in the following ways: It's interested in the effect of a set of circumstances on an individual or group.

  21. 15+ Case Study Examples, Design Tips & Templates

    What is a case study? A case study is a research method to gain a better understanding of a subject or process. Case studies involve in-depth research into a given subject, in order to understand its functionality and successes.

  22. Three Approaches to Case Study Methods in Education: Yin, Merriam, and

    case study that lead to a vast array of techniques and strategies, out of which they can come up with a combined perspective which best serves their research purpose. Keywords: Qualitative Research, Case Study Methods, Epistemological Foundations. Case study is one of the most frequently used qualitative research methodologies.

  23. A qualitative study to explore student learning and development of

    Figure 1 illustrates the sources of qualitative data after each IPE session. Data analysis. The data were managed and coded using NVivo 1.2 (426) (QSR International). Manifest content analysis was used to analyse the IPA qualitative comments and the student reflections [].Thematic analysis was used to analyse interview data using Braun & Clarke's, six phases: familiarisation, data coding ...

  24. Stable Rivers: A Case Study in the Application of Text-to-Image

    Text-to-image (TTI) generative models can be used to generate photorealistic images from a given text-string input. These models offer great potential to mitigate challenges to the uptake of machine learning in the earth sciences. However, the rapid increase in their use has raised questions about fairness and biases, with most research to-date focusing on social and cultural areas rather than ...

  25. Building Research Data Management Capacity: Case Studies in Strategic

    Building Research Data Management Capacity: Case Studies in Strategic Library Collaboration provides actionable recommendations based on real-world case studies that libraries can apply to help make their own collaborations successful and sustainable. The report shares experiences from the Texas Data Repository, Portage Network, and Data ...

  26. Case Study: Patient-Specific Anatomical and Surgical Cutting ...

    This case study covers how: 3D technology can be used to address real-world orthopaedic problems to study patellar instability and femoral neck stabilisation. Synopsys Simpleware software can be used to generate patient-specific anatomical models and to analyze CT scan data via measurements and deviation analysis.

  27. Analysis of Risk Factors for Carbapenem Resistant

    Dear editor. We highly appreciate the article titled "Analysis of Risk Factors for Carbapenem-Resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae Infection and Construction of a Nomogram Model: A Large Case-Control and Cohort Study from Shanxi, China" published in the journal Infection and Drug Resistance.

  28. Water

    The evaluation of water resources carrying capacity is a specific application [] of the concept of carrying capacity in the field of water resources, which can provide practical and effective suggestions [6,7,8] for regional water resources planning and management.Lv et al. studied the water resources carrying capacity of Heilongjiang Province, China, based on the TOPSIS model, and they found ...

  29. Subway Five Forces Analysis & Recommendations (Porter's Model)

    In Michael Porter's Five Forces analysis model, these external factors in the quick-service restaurant market determine the Five Forces, namely, competition, buyer power, supplier power, substitution threat, and new entry threat. Subway's growth in its multinational operations shows business capabilities to overcome challenges linked to the ...