A case study analysis is usually presented as a report and will therefore contain many of the features and structure of reports in general. This section will briefly describe each section, its purpose and structure.
Before reading this section you might like to try this Quiz to see how much you already know about writing reports.
The title page presents routine information and hints at the report's content through an informative title. Design your title page to be simple yet functional and appropriate for your audience. Common elements to include on the title page include:
The executive summary is usually read by senior management. The manager will use the information in the executive summary to decide what action to take and who will carry it out. An executive summary should include an overview of the whole report and is longer than an abstract for a professional journal. It can be from one to a couple of pages, but try to keep it under 2 pages if possible. Headings can be used but there is no need to number these. In your own words present clearly and briefly:
Readers can use this to get a sense of how the report is structured and can skim the contents page for relevant sections to read. Include heading, subheading and page numbers. Usually in large reports a decimal numbering system for headings and subheadings are used. If it is a large report with many tables and figures in the body, a list of figures and a list of terminology or symbols can be included after the contents page.
The introduction is very important as it sets the context for the report. Summarise the brief (your task), briefly outline the case and focus on its significance for the reader, state the report's aim(s) and describe how the report is organised. Readers use the introduction to locate the aim of your report and to decide which sections of the report they need to read. While you may include the key problem you have identified and its significance, it is not usual to detail findings or recommendations in the introduction.
The previous sections (title page, executive summary, contents, tables of figures, introduction) are preliminary sections.
It is difficult to give a single precise description of how a case study report should be organised as many models and variations exist. Organisation will depend on the type of report (eg; design, management), the type of case study investigation (eg; historical, problem orientated), and even the discipline or field you are writing in. Ultimately, the writer decides how best to organise and explain the case, the methodology and the recommendations. The following descriptions are examples only and are drawn from the field of risk management.
An historical case study's body sections may be organised as follows:
Problem-orientated case study
A problem orientated case study's body sections may be organised as follows:
Headings should be informative and descriptive providing a clue to the contents of the section.
Every report should include a concluding statement/s on the subject of the report. Restate the aim of the report and state how you have achieved it. Present the main findings and key recommendations in a summarised form for the reader's benefit. You should also restate the limitations of the report.
Appendices provide additional or supporting information that while not essential to understanding the main facts and recommendations, may be of interest to the expert reader and are evidence of your research and analysis. Appendices can be tables of raw data, detailed calculations, design drawings, maps, copies of a questionnaire or survey etc. Appendices are normally listed as Appendix A, Appendix B, Appendix C, and so forth. Give each appendix a clear informative title. Appendices and reference lists are supplementary sections of a report.
This is a list of all the sources of information you have referred to in the report. Many schools in engineering recommend the author date system. See Referencing for more information on reference styles. We recommend you check with your course facilitators on their preferences.