Whether you’re enrolled in an engineering course or already working in an engineering company, one of the common technical documents that you can come across is the case study report.
Generally speaking, case studies require that you combine practice and theory. This allows you to relate theoretical concepts sot real-life professional/practical situations. A case study can be an occurrence, event, person or individual group of people, a text, an object, a concept, an institution, and so on.
To effectively write a case study, you’ll need to analyze the case by mapping it against a theory explanation, to understand and see the bigger picture. In other words, you’ll be investigating what has happened and then providing the reasons why it has happened.
Another thing that you need to remember is that your case study may take the form of an essay or a report. This depends on the set of instructions provided. Again, be sure to look cases at the assignments question or check with your professor.
But Today, this guide provides all the tips and tricks you need to hack your engineering case study report and other risk management students. This ranges from the definition, types of case studies, tips for organizing your case study, and tips for hacking your case study report to impress your professor and score HD Grades. Even professionals looking for tips on how to prepare risk management or engineering case report can use this guide for free—and rest assured you’ll impress your boss! Let’s get on with it!
What is a case study?
As we’ve briefly explained above, a case study is an account of an event, activity, or problem which contains a real or hypothetical situation. It incorporates the difficulties that you can encounter in a real-life scenario. That’s why case studies are essential since they can allow you to see how the complexities of life impact decisions.
To effectively analyze a case study, you need to practice applying knowledge learned in class and critical thinking skills to real-life situations. As experts advise, learning from a case study requires analyzing, applying knowledge, reason, and drawing conclusions. Here are the features of a good case:
- Case studies are drawn from real-life situations
- Cases studies have many parts, and each part ends with problems and points for discussion even though there is no clear cut-off point to the situation.
- It provides sufficient information to help the reader treat the problem and issues.
- A case should be believable to the reader—that means cases should contain personalities, settings, sequence of events, conflicts, and problems.
Types of case studies
Before we dive deep into the specifics of writing an engineering report, you also need to familiarize yourself with the other forms of case studies reports that you might be asked to write on.
1. Historical case study
In writing historical case studies, you analyze the causes and consequences of an occurrence and consequently discuss the lessons learned. Thus, as an analyst, you’re outside the situation under analysis. An excellent example of a historical case study would be looking into the recent collapse of companies like ENRON and FROGGY. You analyze what really went wrong.
2. Problem-oriented case studies
These are the type of case studies in which you’re supposed to role-play or imagine that you were in the situation and make reasonable recommendations to the top company leadership. Some of the problems may require you to develop a new design. An excellent example of a problem-oriented case study would be applying cost-benefit analysis to determine the current and future market impunity of Tesla in Africa by 2025.
How to Write a Case Study Report: Step by Step Guide
Approaching the case study
Investigating and writing up your case study report requires you to complete specific stages. So first, prepare a timetable detailing sufficient time to complete each of the stages. Remember that some of the stages you will complete will require revisiting later. At the same time, you analyze the case and write the report. This way, your thinking, and writing become a cyclical process.
Steps for Writing Case Study Report
Here are the essential stages for analyzing and writing a case study report.
Step #1: Defining the task
First, you need to read the case and the instructions for the assignment.
But if you don’t have instructions set out, you can use the checklist below as a guide. A practical checklist should answer the following question:
- What’s the background/context of the case study—For instance, include location, type of industry, or even who requested the report
- What is the main problem—once you’ve read the case, you need to summarize whatever you first understood as the problem/risk/situation, etc.
- Are you considering the instructions or questions that have been provided to guide your analysis of the problem?
- What tools are you going to use for your analysis? (PEST, SWOT, mind-map, matrix, computer program, template, etc.)
- Is there anything else you’re familiar with in these kinds of problems?
- What else do you need to know?
- How is the report presented? (length, due date, convections, essential sections, presentation)
Step #2: Be Cognizant of theories and analysis tools that may apply to a situation
Here, a starting point is to consider the textbooks, notes, and readings to identify the appropriate methodology for your case study analysis.
Identify the problems
Your initial analysis should identify the issues/risks/problems inherent to the case. So read the case to identify the firm’s history of failure and success concerning the case, the relevant current strengths and weaknesses, the communication processes occurring, and any other activities that relate to the case.
The best technique here is creating a mind-map of the problem/risks/situation/processes or the issues. Then use the mind-map to separate the elements of the issue and note the most crucial and their relationship.
In your initial draft, jot down the causes of the problems and their consequences highlighted in the case and the preliminary ideas for solutions. Be open-minded enough as you continue discovering more issues and solutions as you continue the analysis of the case.
Apply the Analysis tools
As mentioned above, there are many analysis tools that you can apply in the management and engineering fields. However, it depends on the type of risks/problems/issues you’re evaluating. If unsure which analysis best suits your case, why not ask your facilitator.
Documenting your results and ideas
Create complete sets of notes which will be helpful to refer to when writing up your case study report. That’s why you should record all your findings as well as your own thoughts on the case. Besides, clearly document any calculations, testing, or specifications related to your solutions investigation.
Step #3: Propose recommendations and form conclusions
Your recommendations should be clear statements of what will be done to minimize, remove or solve the problem you’re investigating.
Good recommendations require a detailed action plan for implementing various solutions depending on future events/scenarios.
For every part of the recommendations you’re offering, ask yourself:
- Will the proposed solution work and why. Besides, what can go wrong?
- Who will take action, and are they capable? Who might oppose the recommendations?
- When will the action be taken?
- How will the action be taken, and how much will it cost—be sure to spell out the costs
Once you’ve conducted your analysis is an assessment of the case, ti time to form conclusions based on what you found. Then you can ask yourself how desired objectives will be met and consider the limits of your recommendations based on your testing of solutions and original assumptions that were made in the case.
Step #4: Start writing the case study report
Here is some advice on the process of writing up a case study report.
Planning the report
Before you start writing down the report, you need to plan its structure. So you can begin planning your report while you’re still investigating the case. So what is the best way to plan the report?
Start by preparing an outline (can be a mind-map or a list) of the entire main heading and the subheading you’ll have in your report.
Then go on and add ideas and notes under those headings and subheadings to help you remember what you intend to achieve.
In other words, an effective outline will help you consider the information to include, where it goes, and in what order. Be open-minded enough to change your outline as you continue developing your outline.
Schedule your writing time
You need to prepare a schedule for writing and editing the report sections. You may have to schedule more time for some sections because some are more challenging to write than others.
The trick here is to start with the sections you feel most confident about. But note that the preliminary sections (executive summary and introduction) and supplementary sections (reference list, conclusions, and appendices) are written last.
Analyzing your audience
When writing a case study report for your course, your report is intended for an imaginary individual. Therefore you need to ensure that your language and style suit the individual. That means that a report written for senior management will contain technical language while writing for a community group will use a different style, content, and language.
By analyzing your audience, you can easily define your audience and help you decide what to include in the report depending on what readers should know.
Here are the key questions to ask you to perform an audience analysis:
- Who’s going to read the report?—ask yourself who will use it, where and when the report will be read
- What are the audience’s needs and goals? Remember that every department has its own goals and needs. So you need to understand each department’s perspective to decide how effectively you communicated with each group.
- How do you clearly communicate with managers? Ensure that the manner you communicate is accessible and usable by busy managers. That’s why your report should never omit sections like introductions, conclusions, and executive summary to help the busy manager grab the central concept.
- What might be the opposition or preferences to the case study report? Here, be sure to address your recommendations’ benefits, limitations, and significance. Do so by putting yourself in your reader’s perspectives
Step #5: Preparing a draft for the case study report
Even if you’re a seasoned writer, you won’t write a perfect report within the first attempt. Thus you’re likely to find yourself producing more drafts. You need to carefully plan and edit your draft for consistent professional standards by doing the following things:
- Revising the report often—consider your instructor’s needs and report objectives when gathering information, taking notes, and writing sections of the report
- Being selective—take precise notes, including the information you gathered and your thoughts following the analysis. Keep reviewing your notes to ensure that what is included in your report is essential.
- Creating a logical structure—again, you need to revisit your outline to decide where a specific piece of information will go. Within every section, decide the sequence of information and then order the sequence of information within these parts. Here, your writing should flow and ensure you support your ideas. Any table and figures included in your report should communicate a clear message.
- Edit, edit, and edit again!—while there is software like Grammarly or word processor’s spell checker, don’t overly rely on these tools because they are not perfect. They can overlook errors and irritate your professor.The trick here is to print out hard copies for editing and, if possible, give them to your peer for feedback which you act upon.
- Prepare the reference list—for all the sources you refer to in your report, including each one of them. Otherwise, you may fail. Your references could be books/journal articles, electronic media like websites.
- Prepare the cover/title page—check with your course requirement and assignment instructions on formatting the title page.
- Conduct the final audit—leave a report for a day before performing the final proofread. Then come back and reread the assignment guidelines, scrutinize every section of the report, and finally reread the report to ensure you make changes as required.
How to Organize a Management or Engineering Case Study Report in 8 Parts
Since a case study analysis is presented in the form of a report, it includes many features and generally follows the structure of reports. So, here is a brief description of each section, its purpose, and the overall structure.
Part #1: Title page
The title page presents routine information and hints at the contents of your report by providing an informative title. That’s means you need to design a functional title that is appropriate for your audience to understand.
Thought you should look with your assignments instructions, here are the common elements to include in a title page:
- Name of the institution
- Title of the report
- Student’s name and number if necessary
- Name of the person you submitting the report to
- The course name
- Date of submission
Part #2: The Executive summary
The firm’s senior management reads the executive summary of a case analysis. Then they will use the information in the executive summary to decide the action to take and who to take it.
A good executive summary is an overview of the entire report. It should be longer than an abstract written for professional journals. While it can be a couple of pages, please keep it under 2 pages. You can use heading though you don’t need to number this section. So using your own words, identify briefly and clearly:
- The topic of the report
- The reports main objectives
- The key findings
- The summary of your methodology or approach
- Significant/limits/benefits of your findings
- The summary of the report’s recommendations
Part #3: Contents pages
The other crucial preliminary section of the case study report is the table of contents. Your readers can refer to this section to understand how the report is structured and make it easy for them to skim through the content to the sections they want to read. Therefore, be sure to include a heading, subheadings, and page numbers.
Part #4: Write the introduction
The introduction of a case study report is crucial since it sets the context and the background of your report. So you need to summarize your task, outline the case and focus on its significance for your audience, states its aims, and describe the report’s organization.
Your reader will use the introduction to identify your objectives and help them decide which section they want to read. While you are free to include the problem you’ve identified and its significance, don’t detail the recommendations and findings within the introduction.
The title page, executive summary, table of contents, table and figures, and introduction are the preliminary section of the case study report.
Part #5: Case study report body
Though it is challenging to present an accurate description of how a case study report should look because of the many variations and models. But for organizations, it all depends on the type of report, the type of case study being investigated, and most notably on the discipline you enrolled in. It’s upon you to decide how best to organize and explain the case study, the approach, and the recommendations you propose.
Let’s look at structuring each type of case study under investigation; this can be historical or problem-oriented.
- Historical case study
If you’re writing a historical case study, the body section should be organized as follows:
- Context—here, you describe the case under investigation but focus on facts only
- Approach—you can use heading and subheadings to include the chronological sequence of occurrences. Look at relevant publications, theories, or previous cases to justify and explain your interpretation of the problem. Be sure to identify how previous similar problems have been solved and the problem which remained unsolved.
- Conclusion—what have been achieved since the problem occurred, how were the recommendations implemented, and what can happen in future
- The problem-oriented case study report
If you’re writing a problem-oriented case study report, here are the key things to include in the body section of your report:
- Context of the case under investigation
- An explanation of the methodology
- A summary of your findings
- Present an action plan for the recommendations
Part #6: Conclusions
All reports should have conclusion statements restating how the report’s objectives have been achieved. Again, include the essential findings and main recommendations in a summary form. Don’t forget to restate the limitations of the report.
Part #7: Appendices
Your appendices provide supporting or additional information which might interest expert readers. Such include maps, design drawings, detailed calculations, questionnaires, etc.
Part #8: Reference list
Finally, you need to list all the sources you consulted when writing the report. Check whether your instructor prefers Harvard style, MLA, APA, CMOS, among other commonly used styles.
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