Do you need to describe in detail the effectiveness of a project, or document the situation or experiences of an individual or a group of people? This sort of detailed study is called a case study.
Case studies are used to test hypotheses, help plan for real-world problems, and generate a discussion of potential needs and solutions, among other things. For example, a pharmaceutical company might do a case study to determine how a group of individuals has benefited from a drug therapy, or a school administrator might do a case study to show whether or not individual students have benefited from tutoring programs.
Case study reports are usually complete standalone documents. However, if you write business proposals or grant applications, you may find that including summaries of case studies within your proposal can show how your product or service has benefited groups or provided the solution to needs in the past.
Each case study report should include these sections within the body of the report:
Goal(s) of the study. Do you want to determine whether a past process, product, or service has been successful in order to modify it for future use? Are you trying to determine if there's a need for a product or service among a certain group of people, or show the benefits of a project your organization has done in the past?
A hypothesis or proposition you want to test. Depending on your organization, this might be demonstrating that a group has a specific need or that recipients of a product or service benefited in measurable ways.
The specific questions you want to answer. These will be derived from the goals and hypothesis of the study.
The methodology (how information was collected). This might include interviews, measurements, sampling, and so forth. Be sure to include all relevant details such as schedules, dates and times, locations, and personnel who performed the collection. You may want to summarize this information in the body of the report and include details in an appendix.
Participants. How did you select participants or subjects for the study? What is each participant's background and history?
The data that was or will be collected. Depending on what you are studying, this section could include videos, transcripts of interviews, collections of documents, descriptions of test results, recorded observations & all kinds of topics could go in this section. If your data is extensive, you may want to summarize it in the body of your report and provide the details in an appendix.
Analysis of the data. This section is likely to include statistical summaries and patterns found in the data.
Conclusions. Were your questions answered? Did the study meet the goals? Was the hypothesis supported or refuted? What are the implications for the future?
As with any report, you'll start off with a title page and a table of contents. You'll probably want to include a summary of the important summary points, too, for the high-level readers who will only skim your report. After the body of the report, you may need all sorts of appendices, too & lists of statistics, diagrams, charts, a bibliography or list of sources, and so forth.
Remember to always keep your readers in mind. What do they know about you and the study? What do you need to tell them so they can judge the results? You may need to include background information about your organization, the resumes of personnel who participated, your training or education credentials, and so forth.
It's important that your case study sounds professional, so be sure to proofread every page. If possible, get someone who is unfamiliar with the study to read and comment on your work. It's always a good idea to choose a reviewer with a similar background to your readers so that he or she can ask appropriate questions and provide useful comments to improve your report.
You also want your report to look professional, too. Make sure your completed document is carefully formatted and looks visually appealing. You can include your company logo and colors, or opt for a more general purpose color and logo design scheme. Color and visual aspects should be used sparingly, and to enhance the overall presentation. Colors and graphics can be used to draw attention to certain elements and help break up the text to make reading easier. Its common to add a colorful title page cover to the first page.
There's no need to start each section of your case study report by staring at a blank page. Use a kit of pre-designed topics to get started faster. Also use a kit which includes samples of all kinds of proposals and studies, too. This will dramatically accelerate your case study and other business document creation time.
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