case study what are

The Ultimate Guide to Qualitative Research - Part 1: The Basics

case study what are

  • Introduction and overview
  • What is qualitative research?
  • What is qualitative data?
  • Examples of qualitative data
  • Qualitative vs. quantitative research
  • Mixed methods
  • Qualitative research preparation
  • Theoretical perspective
  • Theoretical framework
  • Literature reviews

Research question

  • Conceptual framework
  • Conceptual vs. theoretical framework

Data collection

  • Qualitative research methods
  • Focus groups
  • Observational research

What is a case study?

Applications for case study research, what is a good case study, process of case study design, benefits and limitations of case studies.

  • Ethnographical research
  • Ethical considerations
  • Confidentiality and privacy
  • Power dynamics
  • Reflexivity

Case studies

Case studies are essential to qualitative research , offering a lens through which researchers can investigate complex phenomena within their real-life contexts. This chapter explores the concept, purpose, applications, examples, and types of case studies and provides guidance on how to conduct case study research effectively.

case study what are

Whereas quantitative methods look at phenomena at scale, case study research looks at a concept or phenomenon in considerable detail. While analyzing a single case can help understand one perspective regarding the object of research inquiry, analyzing multiple cases can help obtain a more holistic sense of the topic or issue. Let's provide a basic definition of a case study, then explore its characteristics and role in the qualitative research process.

Definition of a case study

A case study in qualitative research is a strategy of inquiry that involves an in-depth investigation of a phenomenon within its real-world context. It provides researchers with the opportunity to acquire an in-depth understanding of intricate details that might not be as apparent or accessible through other methods of research. The specific case or cases being studied can be a single person, group, or organization – demarcating what constitutes a relevant case worth studying depends on the researcher and their research question .

Among qualitative research methods , a case study relies on multiple sources of evidence, such as documents, artifacts, interviews , or observations , to present a complete and nuanced understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. The objective is to illuminate the readers' understanding of the phenomenon beyond its abstract statistical or theoretical explanations.

Characteristics of case studies

Case studies typically possess a number of distinct characteristics that set them apart from other research methods. These characteristics include a focus on holistic description and explanation, flexibility in the design and data collection methods, reliance on multiple sources of evidence, and emphasis on the context in which the phenomenon occurs.

Furthermore, case studies can often involve a longitudinal examination of the case, meaning they study the case over a period of time. These characteristics allow case studies to yield comprehensive, in-depth, and richly contextualized insights about the phenomenon of interest.

The role of case studies in research

Case studies hold a unique position in the broader landscape of research methods aimed at theory development. They are instrumental when the primary research interest is to gain an intensive, detailed understanding of a phenomenon in its real-life context.

In addition, case studies can serve different purposes within research - they can be used for exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory purposes, depending on the research question and objectives. This flexibility and depth make case studies a valuable tool in the toolkit of qualitative researchers.

Remember, a well-conducted case study can offer a rich, insightful contribution to both academic and practical knowledge through theory development or theory verification, thus enhancing our understanding of complex phenomena in their real-world contexts.

What is the purpose of a case study?

Case study research aims for a more comprehensive understanding of phenomena, requiring various research methods to gather information for qualitative analysis . Ultimately, a case study can allow the researcher to gain insight into a particular object of inquiry and develop a theoretical framework relevant to the research inquiry.

Why use case studies in qualitative research?

Using case studies as a research strategy depends mainly on the nature of the research question and the researcher's access to the data.

Conducting case study research provides a level of detail and contextual richness that other research methods might not offer. They are beneficial when there's a need to understand complex social phenomena within their natural contexts.

The explanatory, exploratory, and descriptive roles of case studies

Case studies can take on various roles depending on the research objectives. They can be exploratory when the research aims to discover new phenomena or define new research questions; they are descriptive when the objective is to depict a phenomenon within its context in a detailed manner; and they can be explanatory if the goal is to understand specific relationships within the studied context. Thus, the versatility of case studies allows researchers to approach their topic from different angles, offering multiple ways to uncover and interpret the data .

The impact of case studies on knowledge development

Case studies play a significant role in knowledge development across various disciplines. Analysis of cases provides an avenue for researchers to explore phenomena within their context based on the collected data.

case study what are

This can result in the production of rich, practical insights that can be instrumental in both theory-building and practice. Case studies allow researchers to delve into the intricacies and complexities of real-life situations, uncovering insights that might otherwise remain hidden.

Types of case studies

In qualitative research , a case study is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on the nature of the research question and the specific objectives of the study, researchers might choose to use different types of case studies. These types differ in their focus, methodology, and the level of detail they provide about the phenomenon under investigation.

Understanding these types is crucial for selecting the most appropriate approach for your research project and effectively achieving your research goals. Let's briefly look at the main types of case studies.

Exploratory case studies

Exploratory case studies are typically conducted to develop a theory or framework around an understudied phenomenon. They can also serve as a precursor to a larger-scale research project. Exploratory case studies are useful when a researcher wants to identify the key issues or questions which can spur more extensive study or be used to develop propositions for further research. These case studies are characterized by flexibility, allowing researchers to explore various aspects of a phenomenon as they emerge, which can also form the foundation for subsequent studies.

Descriptive case studies

Descriptive case studies aim to provide a complete and accurate representation of a phenomenon or event within its context. These case studies are often based on an established theoretical framework, which guides how data is collected and analyzed. The researcher is concerned with describing the phenomenon in detail, as it occurs naturally, without trying to influence or manipulate it.

Explanatory case studies

Explanatory case studies are focused on explanation - they seek to clarify how or why certain phenomena occur. Often used in complex, real-life situations, they can be particularly valuable in clarifying causal relationships among concepts and understanding the interplay between different factors within a specific context.

case study what are

Intrinsic, instrumental, and collective case studies

These three categories of case studies focus on the nature and purpose of the study. An intrinsic case study is conducted when a researcher has an inherent interest in the case itself. Instrumental case studies are employed when the case is used to provide insight into a particular issue or phenomenon. A collective case study, on the other hand, involves studying multiple cases simultaneously to investigate some general phenomena.

Each type of case study serves a different purpose and has its own strengths and challenges. The selection of the type should be guided by the research question and objectives, as well as the context and constraints of the research.

The flexibility, depth, and contextual richness offered by case studies make this approach an excellent research method for various fields of study. They enable researchers to investigate real-world phenomena within their specific contexts, capturing nuances that other research methods might miss. Across numerous fields, case studies provide valuable insights into complex issues.

Critical information systems research

Case studies provide a detailed understanding of the role and impact of information systems in different contexts. They offer a platform to explore how information systems are designed, implemented, and used and how they interact with various social, economic, and political factors. Case studies in this field often focus on examining the intricate relationship between technology, organizational processes, and user behavior, helping to uncover insights that can inform better system design and implementation.

Health research

Health research is another field where case studies are highly valuable. They offer a way to explore patient experiences, healthcare delivery processes, and the impact of various interventions in a real-world context.

case study what are

Case studies can provide a deep understanding of a patient's journey, giving insights into the intricacies of disease progression, treatment effects, and the psychosocial aspects of health and illness.

Asthma research studies

Specifically within medical research, studies on asthma often employ case studies to explore the individual and environmental factors that influence asthma development, management, and outcomes. A case study can provide rich, detailed data about individual patients' experiences, from the triggers and symptoms they experience to the effectiveness of various management strategies. This can be crucial for developing patient-centered asthma care approaches.

Other fields

Apart from the fields mentioned, case studies are also extensively used in business and management research, education research, and political sciences, among many others. They provide an opportunity to delve into the intricacies of real-world situations, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of various phenomena.

Case studies, with their depth and contextual focus, offer unique insights across these varied fields. They allow researchers to illuminate the complexities of real-life situations, contributing to both theory and practice.

case study what are

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Understanding the key elements of case study design is crucial for conducting rigorous and impactful case study research. A well-structured design guides the researcher through the process, ensuring that the study is methodologically sound and its findings are reliable and valid. The main elements of case study design include the research question , propositions, units of analysis, and the logic linking the data to the propositions.

The research question is the foundation of any research study. A good research question guides the direction of the study and informs the selection of the case, the methods of collecting data, and the analysis techniques. A well-formulated research question in case study research is typically clear, focused, and complex enough to merit further detailed examination of the relevant case(s).


Propositions, though not necessary in every case study, provide a direction by stating what we might expect to find in the data collected. They guide how data is collected and analyzed by helping researchers focus on specific aspects of the case. They are particularly important in explanatory case studies, which seek to understand the relationships among concepts within the studied phenomenon.

Units of analysis

The unit of analysis refers to the case, or the main entity or entities that are being analyzed in the study. In case study research, the unit of analysis can be an individual, a group, an organization, a decision, an event, or even a time period. It's crucial to clearly define the unit of analysis, as it shapes the qualitative data analysis process by allowing the researcher to analyze a particular case and synthesize analysis across multiple case studies to draw conclusions.


This refers to the inferential model that allows researchers to draw conclusions from the data. The researcher needs to ensure that there is a clear link between the data, the propositions (if any), and the conclusions drawn. This argumentation is what enables the researcher to make valid and credible inferences about the phenomenon under study.

Understanding and carefully considering these elements in the design phase of a case study can significantly enhance the quality of the research. It can help ensure that the study is methodologically sound and its findings contribute meaningful insights about the case.

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Conducting a case study involves several steps, from defining the research question and selecting the case to collecting and analyzing data . This section outlines these key stages, providing a practical guide on how to conduct case study research.

Defining the research question

The first step in case study research is defining a clear, focused research question. This question should guide the entire research process, from case selection to analysis. It's crucial to ensure that the research question is suitable for a case study approach. Typically, such questions are exploratory or descriptive in nature and focus on understanding a phenomenon within its real-life context.

Selecting and defining the case

The selection of the case should be based on the research question and the objectives of the study. It involves choosing a unique example or a set of examples that provide rich, in-depth data about the phenomenon under investigation. After selecting the case, it's crucial to define it clearly, setting the boundaries of the case, including the time period and the specific context.

Previous research can help guide the case study design. When considering a case study, an example of a case could be taken from previous case study research and used to define cases in a new research inquiry. Considering recently published examples can help understand how to select and define cases effectively.

Developing a detailed case study protocol

A case study protocol outlines the procedures and general rules to be followed during the case study. This includes the data collection methods to be used, the sources of data, and the procedures for analysis. Having a detailed case study protocol ensures consistency and reliability in the study.

The protocol should also consider how to work with the people involved in the research context to grant the research team access to collecting data. As mentioned in previous sections of this guide, establishing rapport is an essential component of qualitative research as it shapes the overall potential for collecting and analyzing data.

Collecting data

Gathering data in case study research often involves multiple sources of evidence, including documents, archival records, interviews, observations, and physical artifacts. This allows for a comprehensive understanding of the case. The process for gathering data should be systematic and carefully documented to ensure the reliability and validity of the study.

Analyzing and interpreting data

The next step is analyzing the data. This involves organizing the data , categorizing it into themes or patterns , and interpreting these patterns to answer the research question. The analysis might also involve comparing the findings with prior research or theoretical propositions.

Writing the case study report

The final step is writing the case study report . This should provide a detailed description of the case, the data, the analysis process, and the findings. The report should be clear, organized, and carefully written to ensure that the reader can understand the case and the conclusions drawn from it.

Each of these steps is crucial in ensuring that the case study research is rigorous, reliable, and provides valuable insights about the case.

The type, depth, and quality of data in your study can significantly influence the validity and utility of the study. In case study research, data is usually collected from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the case. This section will outline the various methods of collecting data used in case study research and discuss considerations for ensuring the quality of the data.

Interviews are a common method of gathering data in case study research. They can provide rich, in-depth data about the perspectives, experiences, and interpretations of the individuals involved in the case. Interviews can be structured , semi-structured , or unstructured , depending on the research question and the degree of flexibility needed.


Observations involve the researcher observing the case in its natural setting, providing first-hand information about the case and its context. Observations can provide data that might not be revealed in interviews or documents, such as non-verbal cues or contextual information.

Documents and artifacts

Documents and archival records provide a valuable source of data in case study research. They can include reports, letters, memos, meeting minutes, email correspondence, and various public and private documents related to the case.

case study what are

These records can provide historical context, corroborate evidence from other sources, and offer insights into the case that might not be apparent from interviews or observations.

Physical artifacts refer to any physical evidence related to the case, such as tools, products, or physical environments. These artifacts can provide tangible insights into the case, complementing the data gathered from other sources.

Ensuring the quality of data collection

Determining the quality of data in case study research requires careful planning and execution. It's crucial to ensure that the data is reliable, accurate, and relevant to the research question. This involves selecting appropriate methods of collecting data, properly training interviewers or observers, and systematically recording and storing the data. It also includes considering ethical issues related to collecting and handling data, such as obtaining informed consent and ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of the participants.

Data analysis

Analyzing case study research involves making sense of the rich, detailed data to answer the research question. This process can be challenging due to the volume and complexity of case study data. However, a systematic and rigorous approach to analysis can ensure that the findings are credible and meaningful. This section outlines the main steps and considerations in analyzing data in case study research.

Organizing the data

The first step in the analysis is organizing the data. This involves sorting the data into manageable sections, often according to the data source or the theme. This step can also involve transcribing interviews, digitizing physical artifacts, or organizing observational data.

Categorizing and coding the data

Once the data is organized, the next step is to categorize or code the data. This involves identifying common themes, patterns, or concepts in the data and assigning codes to relevant data segments. Coding can be done manually or with the help of software tools, and in either case, qualitative analysis software can greatly facilitate the entire coding process. Coding helps to reduce the data to a set of themes or categories that can be more easily analyzed.

Identifying patterns and themes

After coding the data, the researcher looks for patterns or themes in the coded data. This involves comparing and contrasting the codes and looking for relationships or patterns among them. The identified patterns and themes should help answer the research question.

Interpreting the data

Once patterns and themes have been identified, the next step is to interpret these findings. This involves explaining what the patterns or themes mean in the context of the research question and the case. This interpretation should be grounded in the data, but it can also involve drawing on theoretical concepts or prior research.

Verification of the data

The last step in the analysis is verification. This involves checking the accuracy and consistency of the analysis process and confirming that the findings are supported by the data. This can involve re-checking the original data, checking the consistency of codes, or seeking feedback from research participants or peers.

Like any research method , case study research has its strengths and limitations. Researchers must be aware of these, as they can influence the design, conduct, and interpretation of the study.

Understanding the strengths and limitations of case study research can also guide researchers in deciding whether this approach is suitable for their research question . This section outlines some of the key strengths and limitations of case study research.

Benefits include the following:

  • Rich, detailed data: One of the main strengths of case study research is that it can generate rich, detailed data about the case. This can provide a deep understanding of the case and its context, which can be valuable in exploring complex phenomena.
  • Flexibility: Case study research is flexible in terms of design , data collection , and analysis . A sufficient degree of flexibility allows the researcher to adapt the study according to the case and the emerging findings.
  • Real-world context: Case study research involves studying the case in its real-world context, which can provide valuable insights into the interplay between the case and its context.
  • Multiple sources of evidence: Case study research often involves collecting data from multiple sources , which can enhance the robustness and validity of the findings.

On the other hand, researchers should consider the following limitations:

  • Generalizability: A common criticism of case study research is that its findings might not be generalizable to other cases due to the specificity and uniqueness of each case.
  • Time and resource intensive: Case study research can be time and resource intensive due to the depth of the investigation and the amount of collected data.
  • Complexity of analysis: The rich, detailed data generated in case study research can make analyzing the data challenging.
  • Subjectivity: Given the nature of case study research, there may be a higher degree of subjectivity in interpreting the data , so researchers need to reflect on this and transparently convey to audiences how the research was conducted.

Being aware of these strengths and limitations can help researchers design and conduct case study research effectively and interpret and report the findings appropriately.

case study what are

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

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.

Case study examples
Research question Case study
What are the ecological effects of wolf reintroduction? Case study of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park
How do populist politicians use narratives about history to gain support? Case studies of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and US president Donald Trump
How can teachers implement active learning strategies in mixed-level classrooms? Case study of a local school that promotes active learning
What are the main advantages and disadvantages of wind farms for rural communities? Case studies of three rural wind farm development projects in different parts of the country
How are viral marketing strategies changing the relationship between companies and consumers? Case study of the iPhone X marketing campaign
How do experiences of work in the gig economy differ by gender, race and age? Case studies of Deliveroo and Uber drivers in London

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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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What Is a Case Study?

Weighing the pros and cons of this method of research

Verywell / Colleen Tighe

  • Pros and Cons

What Types of Case Studies Are Out There?

Where do you find data for a case study, how do i write a psychology 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 many different fields, including psychology, medicine, education, anthropology, political science, and social work.

The point 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, we got you—here are some rules of APA format to reference.  

At a Glance

A case study, or an in-depth study of a person, group, or event, can be a useful research tool when used wisely. In many cases, case studies are best used in situations where it would be difficult or impossible for you to conduct an experiment. They are helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a lot of˜ information about a specific individual or group of people. However, it's important to be cautious of any bias we draw from them as they are highly subjective.

What Are the Benefits and Limitations of Case Studies?

A case study can have its 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 or impossible to replicate in a lab. Some other benefits of a case study:

  • Allows researchers to capture information on the 'how,' 'what,' and 'why,' of something that's implemented
  • Gives researchers the chance to collect information on why one strategy might be chosen over another
  • Permits researchers to develop hypotheses that can be explored in experimental research

On the other hand, a case study can have some drawbacks:

  • It cannot necessarily be generalized to the larger population
  • Cannot demonstrate cause and effect
  • It may not be scientifically rigorous
  • It can lead to bias

Researchers may choose to perform a case study if they want to explore a unique or recently discovered phenomenon. Through their insights, researchers develop additional ideas and study questions that might be explored in future studies.

It's important to remember that the insights 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 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 learning was possible, even after missing critical periods for language development. 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 denied her the opportunity to learn a language at critical points in her development.

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

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

  • 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 who live 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 case 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 use depends on the unique characteristics of the situation and the case itself.

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.

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 you need to follow. If you are writing your case study for a professional publication, check with the publisher for their specific guidelines for submitting a case study.

Here is a general outline of what should be included in a case study.

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?

Need More Tips?

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, use 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 .

Crowe S, Cresswell K, Robertson A, Huby G, Avery A, Sheikh A. The case study approach .  BMC Med Res Methodol . 2011;11:100.

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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  • Introduction

The case study creation process

Types of case studies, benefits and limitations.

What is it like to never feel fear?

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case study , detailed description and assessment of a specific situation in the real world created for the purpose of deriving generalizations and other insights from it. A case study can be about an individual, a group of people, an organization, or an event, among other subjects.

By focusing on a specific subject in its natural setting, a case study can help improve understanding of the broader features and processes at work. Case studies are a research method used in multiple fields, including business, criminology , education , medicine and other forms of health care, anthropology , political science , psychology , and social work . Data in case studies can be both qualitative and quantitative. Unlike experiments, where researchers control and manipulate situations, case studies are considered to be “naturalistic” because subjects are studied in their natural context . ( See also natural experiment .)

The creation of a case study typically involves the following steps:

  • The research question to be studied is defined, informed by existing literature and previous research. Researchers should clearly define the scope of the case, and they should compile a list of evidence to be collected as well as identify the nature of insights that they expect to gain from the case study.
  • Once the case is identified, the research team is given access to the individual, organization, or situation being studied. Individuals are informed of risks associated with participation and must provide their consent , which may involve signing confidentiality or anonymity agreements.
  • Researchers then collect evidence using multiple methods, which may include qualitative techniques, such as interviews, focus groups , and direct observations, as well as quantitative methods, such as surveys, questionnaires, and data audits. The collection procedures need to be well defined to ensure the relevance and accuracy of the evidence.
  • The collected evidence is analyzed to come up with insights. Each data source must be reviewed carefully by itself and in the larger context of the case study so as to ensure continued relevance. At the same time, care must be taken not to force the analysis to fit (potentially preconceived) conclusions. While the eventual case study may serve as the basis for generalizations, these generalizations must be made cautiously to ensure that specific nuances are not lost in the averages.
  • Finally, the case study is packaged for larger groups and publication. At this stage some information may be withheld, as in business case studies, to allow readers to draw their own conclusions. In scientific fields, the completed case study needs to be a coherent whole, with all findings and statistical relationships clearly documented.

What is it like to never feel fear?

Case studies have been used as a research method across multiple fields. They are particularly popular in the fields of law, business, and employee training; they typically focus on a problem that an individual or organization is facing. The situation is presented in considerable detail, often with supporting data, to discussion participants, who are asked to make recommendations that will solve the stated problem. The business case study as a method of instruction was made popular in the 1920s by instructors at Harvard Business School who adapted an approach used at Harvard Law School in which real-world cases were used in classroom discussions. Other business and law schools started compiling case studies as teaching aids for students. In a business school case study, students are not provided with the complete list of facts pertaining to the topic and are thus forced to discuss and compare their perspectives with those of their peers to recommend solutions.

In criminology , case studies typically focus on the lives of an individual or a group of individuals. These studies can provide particularly valuable insight into the personalities and motives of individual criminals, but they may suffer from a lack of objectivity on the part of the researchers (typically because of the researchers’ biases when working with people with a criminal history), and their findings may be difficult to generalize.

In sociology , the case-study method was developed by Frédéric Le Play in France during the 19th century. This approach involves a field worker staying with a family for a period of time, gathering data on the family members’ attitudes and interactions and on their income, expenditures, and physical possessions. Similar approaches have been used in anthropology . Such studies can sometimes continue for many years.

Case studies provide insight into situations that involve a specific entity or set of circumstances. They can be beneficial in helping to explain the causal relationships between quantitative indicators in a field of study, such as what drives a company’s market share. By introducing real-world examples, they also plunge the reader into an actual, concrete situation and make the concepts real rather than theoretical. They also help people study rare situations that they might not otherwise experience.

Because case studies are in a “naturalistic” environment , they are limited in terms of research design: researchers lack control over what they are studying, which means that the results often cannot be reproduced. Also, care must be taken to stay within the bounds of the research question on which the case study is focusing. Other limitations to case studies revolve around the data collected. It may be difficult, for instance, for researchers to organize the large volume of data that can emerge from the study, and their analysis of the data must be carefully thought through to produce scientifically valid insights. The research methodology used to generate these insights is as important as the insights themselves, for the latter need to be seen in the proper context. Taken out of context, they may lead to erroneous conclusions. Like all scientific studies, case studies need to be approached objectively; personal bias or opinion may skew the research methods as well as the results. ( See also confirmation bias .)

Business case studies in particular have been criticized for approaching a problem or situation from a narrow perspective. Students are expected to come up with solutions for a problem based on the data provided. However, in real life, the situation is typically reversed: business managers face a problem and must then look for data to help them solve it.

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What is a Case Study? Definition & Examples

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Case Study Definition

A case study is an in-depth investigation of a single person, group, event, or community. This research method involves intensively analyzing a subject to understand its complexity and context. The richness of a case study comes from its ability to capture detailed, qualitative data that can offer insights into a process or subject matter that other research methods might miss.

A case study involves drawing lots of connections.

A case study strives for a holistic understanding of events or situations by examining all relevant variables. They are ideal for exploring ‘how’ or ‘why’ questions in contexts where the researcher has limited control over events in real-life settings. Unlike narrowly focused experiments, these projects seek a comprehensive understanding of events or situations.

In a case study, researchers gather data through various methods such as participant observation, interviews, tests, record examinations, and writing samples. Unlike statistically-based studies that seek only quantifiable data, a case study attempts to uncover new variables and pose questions for subsequent research.

A case study is particularly beneficial when your research:

  • Requires a deep, contextual understanding of a specific case.
  • Needs to explore or generate hypotheses rather than test them.
  • Focuses on a contemporary phenomenon within a real-life context.

Learn more about Other Types of Experimental Design .

Case Study Examples

Various fields utilize case studies, including the following:

  • Social sciences : For understanding complex social phenomena.
  • Business : For analyzing corporate strategies and business decisions.
  • Healthcare : For detailed patient studies and medical research.
  • Education : For understanding educational methods and policies.
  • Law : For in-depth analysis of legal cases.

For example, consider a case study in a business setting where a startup struggles to scale. Researchers might examine the startup’s strategies, market conditions, management decisions, and competition. Interviews with the CEO, employees, and customers, alongside an analysis of financial data, could offer insights into the challenges and potential solutions for the startup. This research could serve as a valuable lesson for other emerging businesses.

See below for other examples.

What impact does urban green space have on mental health in high-density cities? Assess a green space development in Tokyo and its effects on resident mental health.
How do small businesses adapt to rapid technological changes? Examine a small business in Silicon Valley adapting to new tech trends.
What strategies are effective in reducing plastic waste in coastal cities? Study plastic waste management initiatives in Barcelona.
How do educational approaches differ in addressing diverse learning needs? Investigate a specialized school’s approach to inclusive education in Sweden.
How does community involvement influence the success of public health initiatives? Evaluate a community-led health program in rural India.
What are the challenges and successes of renewable energy adoption in developing countries? Assess solar power implementation in a Kenyan village.

Types of Case Studies

Several standard types of case studies exist that vary based on the objectives and specific research needs.

Illustrative Case Study : Descriptive in nature, these studies use one or two instances to depict a situation, helping to familiarize the unfamiliar and establish a common understanding of the topic.

Exploratory Case Study : Conducted as precursors to large-scale investigations, they assist in raising relevant questions, choosing measurement types, and identifying hypotheses to test.

Cumulative Case Study : These studies compile information from various sources over time to enhance generalization without the need for costly, repetitive new studies.

Critical Instance Case Study : Focused on specific sites, they either explore unique situations with limited generalizability or challenge broad assertions, to identify potential cause-and-effect issues.

Pros and Cons

As with any research study, case studies have a set of benefits and drawbacks.

  • Provides comprehensive and detailed data.
  • Offers a real-life perspective.
  • Flexible and can adapt to discoveries during the study.
  • Enables investigation of scenarios that are hard to assess in laboratory settings.
  • Facilitates studying rare or unique cases.
  • Generates hypotheses for future experimental research.
  • Time-consuming and may require a lot of resources.
  • Hard to generalize findings to a broader context.
  • Potential for researcher bias.
  • Cannot establish causality .
  • Lacks scientific rigor compared to more controlled research methods .

Crafting a Good Case Study: Methodology

While case studies emphasize specific details over broad theories, they should connect to theoretical frameworks in the field. This approach ensures that these projects contribute to the existing body of knowledge on the subject, rather than standing as an isolated entity.

The following are critical steps in developing a case study:

  • Define the Research Questions : Clearly outline what you want to explore. Define specific, achievable objectives.
  • Select the Case : Choose a case that best suits the research questions. Consider using a typical case for general understanding or an atypical subject for unique insights.
  • Data Collection : Use a variety of data sources, such as interviews, observations, documents, and archival records, to provide multiple perspectives on the issue.
  • Data Analysis : Identify patterns and themes in the data.
  • Report Findings : Present the findings in a structured and clear manner.

Analysts typically use thematic analysis to identify patterns and themes within the data and compare different cases.

  • Qualitative Analysis : Such as coding and thematic analysis for narrative data.
  • Quantitative Analysis : In cases where numerical data is involved.
  • Triangulation : Combining multiple methods or data sources to enhance accuracy.

A good case study requires a balanced approach, often using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The researcher should constantly reflect on their biases and how they might influence the research. Documenting personal reflections can provide transparency.

Avoid over-generalization. One common mistake is to overstate the implications of a case study. Remember that these studies provide an in-depth insights into a specific case and might not be widely applicable.

Don’t ignore contradictory data. All data, even that which contradicts your hypothesis, is valuable. Ignoring it can lead to skewed results.

Finally, in the report, researchers provide comprehensive insight for a case study through “thick description,” which entails a detailed portrayal of the subject, its usage context, the attributes of involved individuals, and the community environment. Thick description extends to interpreting various data, including demographic details, cultural norms, societal values, prevailing attitudes, and underlying motivations. This approach ensures a nuanced and in-depth comprehension of the case in question.

Learn more about Qualitative Research and Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data .

Morland, J. & Feagin, Joe & Orum, Anthony & Sjoberg, Gideon. (1992). A Case for the Case Study . Social Forces. 71(1):240.

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Research Method

Home » Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Case Study – Methods, Examples and Guide

Table of Contents

Case Study Research

A case study is a research method that involves an in-depth examination and analysis of a particular phenomenon or case, such as an individual, organization, community, event, or situation.

It is a qualitative research approach that aims to provide a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the case being studied. Case studies typically involve multiple sources of data, including interviews, observations, documents, and artifacts, which are analyzed using various techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, and grounded theory. The findings of a case study are often used to develop theories, inform policy or practice, or generate new research questions.

Types of Case Study

Types and Methods of Case Study are as follows:

Single-Case Study

A single-case study is an in-depth analysis of a single case. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to understand a specific phenomenon in detail.

For Example , A researcher might conduct a single-case study on a particular individual to understand their experiences with a particular health condition or a specific organization to explore their management practices. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of a single-case study are often used to generate new research questions, develop theories, or inform policy or practice.

Multiple-Case Study

A multiple-case study involves the analysis of several cases that are similar in nature. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to identify similarities and differences between the cases.

For Example, a researcher might conduct a multiple-case study on several companies to explore the factors that contribute to their success or failure. The researcher collects data from each case, compares and contrasts the findings, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as comparative analysis or pattern-matching. The findings of a multiple-case study can be used to develop theories, inform policy or practice, or generate new research questions.

Exploratory Case Study

An exploratory case study is used to explore a new or understudied phenomenon. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to generate hypotheses or theories about the phenomenon.

For Example, a researcher might conduct an exploratory case study on a new technology to understand its potential impact on society. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as grounded theory or content analysis. The findings of an exploratory case study can be used to generate new research questions, develop theories, or inform policy or practice.

Descriptive Case Study

A descriptive case study is used to describe a particular phenomenon in detail. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to provide a comprehensive account of the phenomenon.

For Example, a researcher might conduct a descriptive case study on a particular community to understand its social and economic characteristics. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of a descriptive case study can be used to inform policy or practice or generate new research questions.

Instrumental Case Study

An instrumental case study is used to understand a particular phenomenon that is instrumental in achieving a particular goal. This type of case study is useful when the researcher wants to understand the role of the phenomenon in achieving the goal.

For Example, a researcher might conduct an instrumental case study on a particular policy to understand its impact on achieving a particular goal, such as reducing poverty. The researcher collects data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and documents, and uses various techniques to analyze the data, such as content analysis or thematic analysis. The findings of an instrumental case study can be used to inform policy or practice or generate new research questions.

Case Study Data Collection Methods

Here are some common data collection methods for case studies:

Interviews involve asking questions to individuals who have knowledge or experience relevant to the case study. Interviews can be structured (where the same questions are asked to all participants) or unstructured (where the interviewer follows up on the responses with further questions). Interviews can be conducted in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing.


Observations involve watching and recording the behavior and activities of individuals or groups relevant to the case study. Observations can be participant (where the researcher actively participates in the activities) or non-participant (where the researcher observes from a distance). Observations can be recorded using notes, audio or video recordings, or photographs.

Documents can be used as a source of information for case studies. Documents can include reports, memos, emails, letters, and other written materials related to the case study. Documents can be collected from the case study participants or from public sources.

Surveys involve asking a set of questions to a sample of individuals relevant to the case study. Surveys can be administered in person, over the phone, through mail or email, or online. Surveys can be used to gather information on attitudes, opinions, or behaviors related to the case study.

Artifacts are physical objects relevant to the case study. Artifacts can include tools, equipment, products, or other objects that provide insights into the case study phenomenon.

How to conduct Case Study Research

Conducting a case study research involves several steps that need to be followed to ensure the quality and rigor of the study. Here are the steps to conduct case study research:

  • Define the research questions: The first step in conducting a case study research is to define the research questions. The research questions should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the case study phenomenon under investigation.
  • Select the case: The next step is to select the case or cases to be studied. The case should be relevant to the research questions and should provide rich and diverse data that can be used to answer the research questions.
  • Collect data: Data can be collected using various methods, such as interviews, observations, documents, surveys, and artifacts. The data collection method should be selected based on the research questions and the nature of the case study phenomenon.
  • Analyze the data: The data collected from the case study should be analyzed using various techniques, such as content analysis, thematic analysis, or grounded theory. The analysis should be guided by the research questions and should aim to provide insights and conclusions relevant to the research questions.
  • Draw conclusions: The conclusions drawn from the case study should be based on the data analysis and should be relevant to the research questions. The conclusions should be supported by evidence and should be clearly stated.
  • Validate the findings: The findings of the case study should be validated by reviewing the data and the analysis with participants or other experts in the field. This helps to ensure the validity and reliability of the findings.
  • Write the report: The final step is to write the report of the case study research. The report should provide a clear description of the case study phenomenon, the research questions, the data collection methods, the data analysis, the findings, and the conclusions. The report should be written in a clear and concise manner and should follow the guidelines for academic writing.

Examples of Case Study

Here are some examples of case study research:

  • The Hawthorne Studies : Conducted between 1924 and 1932, the Hawthorne Studies were a series of case studies conducted by Elton Mayo and his colleagues to examine the impact of work environment on employee productivity. The studies were conducted at the Hawthorne Works plant of the Western Electric Company in Chicago and included interviews, observations, and experiments.
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment: Conducted in 1971, the Stanford Prison Experiment was a case study conducted by Philip Zimbardo to examine the psychological effects of power and authority. The study involved simulating a prison environment and assigning participants to the role of guards or prisoners. The study was controversial due to the ethical issues it raised.
  • The Challenger Disaster: The Challenger Disaster was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. The study included interviews, observations, and analysis of data to identify the technical, organizational, and cultural factors that contributed to the disaster.
  • The Enron Scandal: The Enron Scandal was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the Enron Corporation’s bankruptcy in 2001. The study included interviews, analysis of financial data, and review of documents to identify the accounting practices, corporate culture, and ethical issues that led to the company’s downfall.
  • The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster : The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster was a case study conducted to examine the causes of the nuclear accident that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011. The study included interviews, analysis of data, and review of documents to identify the technical, organizational, and cultural factors that contributed to the disaster.

Application of Case Study

Case studies have a wide range of applications across various fields and industries. Here are some examples:

Business and Management

Case studies are widely used in business and management to examine real-life situations and develop problem-solving skills. Case studies can help students and professionals to develop a deep understanding of business concepts, theories, and best practices.

Case studies are used in healthcare to examine patient care, treatment options, and outcomes. Case studies can help healthcare professionals to develop critical thinking skills, diagnose complex medical conditions, and develop effective treatment plans.

Case studies are used in education to examine teaching and learning practices. Case studies can help educators to develop effective teaching strategies, evaluate student progress, and identify areas for improvement.

Social Sciences

Case studies are widely used in social sciences to examine human behavior, social phenomena, and cultural practices. Case studies can help researchers to develop theories, test hypotheses, and gain insights into complex social issues.

Law and Ethics

Case studies are used in law and ethics to examine legal and ethical dilemmas. Case studies can help lawyers, policymakers, and ethical professionals to develop critical thinking skills, analyze complex cases, and make informed decisions.

Purpose of Case Study

The purpose of a case study is to provide a detailed analysis of a specific phenomenon, issue, or problem in its real-life context. A case study is a qualitative research method that involves the in-depth exploration and analysis of a particular case, which can be an individual, group, organization, event, or community.

The primary purpose of a case study is to generate a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the case, including its history, context, and dynamics. Case studies can help researchers to identify and examine the underlying factors, processes, and mechanisms that contribute to the case and its outcomes. This can help to develop a more accurate and detailed understanding of the case, which can inform future research, practice, or policy.

Case studies can also serve other purposes, including:

  • Illustrating a theory or concept: Case studies can be used to illustrate and explain theoretical concepts and frameworks, providing concrete examples of how they can be applied in real-life situations.
  • Developing hypotheses: Case studies can help to generate hypotheses about the causal relationships between different factors and outcomes, which can be tested through further research.
  • Providing insight into complex issues: Case studies can provide insights into complex and multifaceted issues, which may be difficult to understand through other research methods.
  • Informing practice or policy: Case studies can be used to inform practice or policy by identifying best practices, lessons learned, or areas for improvement.

Advantages of Case Study Research

There are several advantages of case study research, including:

  • In-depth exploration: Case study research allows for a detailed exploration and analysis of a specific phenomenon, issue, or problem in its real-life context. This can provide a comprehensive understanding of the case and its dynamics, which may not be possible through other research methods.
  • Rich data: Case study research can generate rich and detailed data, including qualitative data such as interviews, observations, and documents. This can provide a nuanced understanding of the case and its complexity.
  • Holistic perspective: Case study research allows for a holistic perspective of the case, taking into account the various factors, processes, and mechanisms that contribute to the case and its outcomes. This can help to develop a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the case.
  • Theory development: Case study research can help to develop and refine theories and concepts by providing empirical evidence and concrete examples of how they can be applied in real-life situations.
  • Practical application: Case study research can inform practice or policy by identifying best practices, lessons learned, or areas for improvement.
  • Contextualization: Case study research takes into account the specific context in which the case is situated, which can help to understand how the case is influenced by the social, cultural, and historical factors of its environment.

Limitations of Case Study Research

There are several limitations of case study research, including:

  • Limited generalizability : Case studies are typically focused on a single case or a small number of cases, which limits the generalizability of the findings. The unique characteristics of the case may not be applicable to other contexts or populations, which may limit the external validity of the research.
  • Biased sampling: Case studies may rely on purposive or convenience sampling, which can introduce bias into the sample selection process. This may limit the representativeness of the sample and the generalizability of the findings.
  • Subjectivity: Case studies rely on the interpretation of the researcher, which can introduce subjectivity into the analysis. The researcher’s own biases, assumptions, and perspectives may influence the findings, which may limit the objectivity of the research.
  • Limited control: Case studies are typically conducted in naturalistic settings, which limits the control that the researcher has over the environment and the variables being studied. This may limit the ability to establish causal relationships between variables.
  • Time-consuming: Case studies can be time-consuming to conduct, as they typically involve a detailed exploration and analysis of a specific case. This may limit the feasibility of conducting multiple case studies or conducting case studies in a timely manner.
  • Resource-intensive: Case studies may require significant resources, including time, funding, and expertise. This may limit the ability of researchers to conduct case studies in resource-constrained settings.

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Blog Beginner Guides 6 Types of Case Studies to Inspire Your Research and Analysis

6 Types of Case Studies to Inspire Your Research and Analysis

Written by: Ronita Mohan Sep 20, 2021

What is a Case Study Blog Header

Case studies have become powerful business tools. But what is a case study? What are the benefits of creating one? Are there limitations to the format?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, our helpful guide will clear things up. Learn how to use a case study for business. Find out how cases analysis works in psychology and research.

We’ve also got examples of case studies to inspire you.

Haven’t made a case study before? You can easily  create a case study  with Venngage’s customizable case study templates .

Click to jump ahead:

What is a case study?

6 types of case studies, what is a business case study, what is a case study in research, what is a case study in psychology, what is the case study method, benefits of case studies, limitations of case studies, faqs about case studies.

A case study is a research process aimed at learning about a subject, an event or an organization. Case studies are use in business, the social sciences and healthcare.

A case study may focus on one observation or many. It can also examine a series of events or a single case. An effective case study tells a story and provides a conclusion.

Case Study Definition LinkedIn Post

Healthcare industries write reports on patients and diagnoses. Marketing case study examples , like the one below, highlight the benefits of a business product.

Bold Social Media Business Case Study Template

Now that you know what a case study is, let’s look at the six different types of case studies next.

There are six common types of case reports. Depending on your industry, you might use one of these types.

Descriptive case studies

Explanatory case studies, exploratory case reports, intrinsic case studies, instrumental case studies, collective case reports.

6 Types Of Case Studies List

We go into more detail about each type of study in the guide below.

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

When you have an existing hypothesis, you can design a descriptive study. This type of report starts with a description. The aim is to find connections between the subject being studied and a theory.

Once these connections are found, the study can conclude. The results of this type of study will usually suggest how to develop a theory further.

A study like the one below has concrete results. A descriptive report would use the quantitative data as a suggestion for researching the subject deeply.

Lead generation business case study template

When an incident occurs in a field, an explanation is required. An explanatory report investigates the cause of the event. It will include explanations for that cause.

The study will also share details about the impact of the event. In most cases, this report will use evidence to predict future occurrences. The results of explanatory reports are definitive.

Note that there is no room for interpretation here. The results are absolute.

The study below is a good example. It explains how one brand used the services of another. It concludes by showing definitive proof that the collaboration was successful.

Bold Content Marketing Case Study Template

Another example of this study would be in the automotive industry. If a vehicle fails a test, an explanatory study will examine why. The results could show that the failure was because of a particular part.

Related: How to Write a Case Study [+ Design Tips]

An explanatory report is a self-contained document. An exploratory one is only the beginning of an investigation.

Exploratory cases act as the starting point of studies. This is usually conducted as a precursor to large-scale investigations. The research is used to suggest why further investigations are needed.

An exploratory study can also be used to suggest methods for further examination.

For example, the below analysis could have found inconclusive results. In that situation, it would be the basis for an in-depth study.

Teal Social Media Business Case Study Template

Intrinsic studies are more common in the field of psychology. These reports can also be conducted in healthcare or social work.

These types of studies focus on a unique subject, such as a patient. They can sometimes study groups close to the researcher.

The aim of such studies is to understand the subject better. This requires learning their history. The researcher will also examine how they interact with their environment.

For instance, if the case study below was about a unique brand, it could be an intrinsic study.

Vibrant Content Marketing Case Study Template

Once the study is complete, the researcher will have developed a better understanding of a phenomenon. This phenomenon will likely not have been studied or theorized about before.

Examples of intrinsic case analysis can be found across psychology. For example, Jean Piaget’s theories on cognitive development. He established the theory from intrinsic studies into his own children.

Related: What Disney Villains Can Tell Us About Color Psychology [Infographic]

This is another type of study seen in medical and psychology fields. Instrumental reports are created to examine more than just the primary subject.

When research is conducted for an instrumental study, it is to provide the basis for a larger phenomenon. The subject matter is usually the best example of the phenomenon. This is why it is being studied.

Take the example of the fictional brand below.

Purple SAAS Business Case Study Template

Assume it’s examining lead generation strategies. It may want to show that visual marketing is the definitive lead generation tool. The brand can conduct an instrumental case study to examine this phenomenon.

Collective studies are based on instrumental case reports. These types of studies examine multiple reports.

There are a number of reasons why collective reports are created:

  • To provide evidence for starting a new study
  • To find pattens between multiple instrumental reports
  • To find differences in similar types of cases
  • Gain a deeper understanding of a complex phenomenon
  • Understand a phenomenon from diverse contexts

A researcher could use multiple reports, like the one below, to build a collective case report.

Social Media Business Case Study template

Related: 10+ Case Study Infographic Templates That Convert

A business or marketing case study aims at showcasing a successful partnership. This can be between a brand and a client. Or the case study can examine a brand’s project.

There is a perception that case studies are used to advertise a brand. But effective reports, like the one below, can show clients how a brand can support them.

Light Simple Business Case Study Template

Hubspot created a case study on a customer that successfully scaled its business. The report outlines the various Hubspot tools used to achieve these results.

Hubspot case study

Hubspot also added a video with testimonials from the client company’s employees.

So, what is the purpose of a case study for businesses? There is a lot of competition in the corporate world. Companies are run by people. They can be on the fence about which brand to work with.

Business reports  stand out aesthetically, as well. They use  brand colors  and brand fonts . Usually, a combination of the client’s and the brand’s.

With the Venngage  My Brand Kit  feature, businesses can automatically apply their brand to designs.

A business case study, like the one below, acts as social proof. This helps customers decide between your brand and your competitors.

Modern lead Generation Business Case Study Template

Don’t know how to design a report? You can learn  how to write a case study  with Venngage’s guide. We also share design tips and examples that will help you convert.

Related: 55+ Annual Report Design Templates, Inspirational Examples & Tips [Updated]

Research is a necessary part of every case study. But specific research fields are required to create studies. These fields include user research, healthcare, education, or social work.

For example, this UX Design  report examined the public perception of a client. The brand researched and implemented new visuals to improve it. The study breaks down this research through lessons learned.

What is a case study in research? UX Design case study example

Clinical reports are a necessity in the medical field. These documents are used to share knowledge with other professionals. They also help examine new or unusual diseases or symptoms.

The pandemic has led to a significant increase in research. For example,  Spectrum Health  studied the value of health systems in the pandemic. They created the study by examining community outreach.

What is a case study in research? Spectrum healthcare example

The pandemic has significantly impacted the field of education. This has led to numerous examinations on remote studying. There have also been studies on how students react to decreased peer communication.

Social work case reports often have a community focus. They can also examine public health responses. In certain regions, social workers study disaster responses.

You now know what case studies in various fields are. In the next step of our guide, we explain the case study method.

In the field of psychology, case studies focus on a particular subject. Psychology case histories also examine human behaviors.

Case reports search for commonalities between humans. They are also used to prescribe further research. Or these studies can elaborate on a solution for a behavioral ailment.

The American Psychology Association  has a number of case studies on real-life clients. Note how the reports are more text-heavy than a business case study.

What is a case study in psychology? Behavior therapy example

Famous psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Anna O popularised the use of case studies in the field. They did so by regularly interviewing subjects. Their detailed observations build the field of psychology.

It is important to note that psychological studies must be conducted by professionals. Psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists should be the researchers in these cases.

Related: What Netflix’s Top 50 Shows Can Teach Us About Font Psychology [Infographic]

The case study method, or case method, is a learning technique where you’re presented with a real-world business challenge and asked how you’d solve it.

After working through it independently and with peers, you learn how the actual scenario unfolded. This approach helps develop problem-solving skills and practical knowledge.

This method often uses various data sources like interviews, observations, and documents to provide comprehensive insights. The below example would have been created after numerous interviews.

Case studies are largely qualitative. They analyze and describe phenomena. While some data is included, a case analysis is not quantitative.

There are a few steps in the case method. You have to start by identifying the subject of your study. Then determine what kind of research is required.

In natural sciences, case studies can take years to complete. Business reports, like this one, don’t take that long. A few weeks of interviews should be enough.

Blue Simple Business Case Study Template

The case method will vary depending on the industry. Reports will also look different once produced.

As you will have seen, business reports are more colorful. The design is also more accessible . Healthcare and psychology reports are more text-heavy.

Designing case reports takes time and energy. So, is it worth taking the time to write them? Here are the benefits of creating case studies.

  • Collects large amounts of information
  • Helps formulate hypotheses
  • Builds the case for further research
  • Discovers new insights into a subject
  • Builds brand trust and loyalty
  • Engages customers through stories

For example, the business study below creates a story around a brand partnership. It makes for engaging reading. The study also shows evidence backing up the information.

Blue Content Marketing Case Study Template

We’ve shared the benefits of why studies are needed. We will also look at the limitations of creating them.

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

There are a few disadvantages to conducting a case analysis. The limitations will vary according to the industry.

  • Responses from interviews are subjective
  • Subjects may tailor responses to the researcher
  • Studies can’t always be replicated
  • In certain industries, analyses can take time and be expensive
  • Risk of generalizing the results among a larger population

These are some of the common weaknesses of creating case reports. If you’re on the fence, look at the competition in your industry.

Other brands or professionals are building reports, like this example. In that case, you may want to do the same.

Coral content marketing case study template

What makes a case study a case study?

A case study has a very particular research methodology. They are an in-depth study of a person or a group of individuals. They can also study a community or an organization. Case reports examine real-world phenomena within a set context.

How long should a case study be?

The length of studies depends on the industry. It also depends on the story you’re telling. Most case studies should be at least 500-1500 words long. But you can increase the length if you have more details to share.

What should you ask in a case study?

The one thing you shouldn’t ask is ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. Case studies are qualitative. These questions won’t give you the information you need.

Ask your client about the problems they faced. Ask them about solutions they found. Or what they think is the ideal solution. Leave room to ask them follow-up questions. This will help build out the study.

How to present a case study?

When you’re ready to present a case study, begin by providing a summary of the problem or challenge you were addressing. Follow this with an outline of the solution you implemented, and support this with the results you achieved, backed by relevant data. Incorporate visual aids like slides, graphs, and images to make your case study presentation more engaging and impactful.

Now you know what a case study means, you can begin creating one. These reports are a great tool for analyzing brands. They are also useful in a variety of other fields.

Use a visual communication platform like Venngage to design case studies. With Venngage’s templates, you can design easily. Create branded, engaging reports, all without design experience.

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28 Case Study Examples Every Marketer Should See

Caroline Forsey

Published: March 08, 2023

Putting together a compelling case study is one of the most powerful strategies for showcasing your product and attracting future customers. But it's not easy to create case studies that your audience can’t wait to read.

marketer reviewing case study examples

In this post, we’ll go over the definition of a case study and the best examples to inspire you.

Download Now: 3 Free Case Study Templates

What is a case study?

A case study is a detailed story of something your company did. It includes a beginning — often discussing a conflict, an explanation of what happened next, and a resolution that explains how the company solved or improved on something.

A case study proves how your product has helped other companies by demonstrating real-life results. Not only that, but marketing case studies with solutions typically contain quotes from the customer. This means that they’re not just ads where you praise your own product. Rather, other companies are praising your company — and there’s no stronger marketing material than a verbal recommendation or testimonial. A great case study is also filled with research and stats to back up points made about a project's results.

There are myriad ways to use case studies in your marketing strategy . From featuring them on your website to including them in a sales presentation, a case study is a strong, persuasive tool that shows customers why they should work with you — straight from another customer. Writing one from scratch is hard, though, which is why we’ve created a collection of case study templates for you to get started.

Fill out the form below to access the free case study templates.

case study what are

Free Case Study Templates

Showcase your company's success using these three free case study templates.

  • Data-Driven Case Study Template
  • Product-Specific Case Study Template
  • General Case Study Template

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There’s no better way to generate more leads than by writing case studies . But without case study examples to draw inspiration from, it can be difficult to write impactful studies that convince visitors to submit a form.

Marketing Case Study Examples

To help you create an attractive and high-converting case study, we've put together a list of some of our favorites. This list includes famous case studies in marketing, technology, and business.

These studies can show you how to frame your company offers in a way that is both meaningful and useful to your audience. So, take a look, and let these examples inspire your next brilliant case study design.

These marketing case studies with solutions show the value proposition of each product. They also show how each company benefited in both the short and long term using quantitative data. In other words, you don’t get just nice statements, like "This company helped us a lot." You see actual change within the firm through numbers and figures.

You can put your learnings into action with HubSpot's Free Case Study Templates . Available as custom designs and text-based documents, you can upload these templates to your CMS or send them to prospects as you see fit.

case study template

1. " How Handled Scaled from Zero to 121 Locations with the Help of HubSpot ," by HubSpot

Case study examples: Handled and HubSpot

What's interesting about this case study is the way it leads with the customer. That reflects a major HubSpot cornerstone, which is to always solve for the customer first. The copy leads with a brief description of why the CEO of Handled founded the company and why he thought Handled could benefit from adopting a CRM. The case study also opens up with one key data point about Handled’s success using HubSpot, namely that it grew to 121 locations.

Notice that this case study uses mixed media. Yes, there is a short video, but it's elaborated upon in the other text on the page. So while your case studies can use one or the other, don't be afraid to combine written copy with visuals to emphasize the project's success.

Key Learnings from the HubSpot Case Study Example

  • Give the case study a personal touch by focusing on the CEO rather than the company itself.
  • Use multimedia to engage website visitors as they read the case study.

2. " The Whole Package ," by IDEO

Case study examples: IDEO and H&M

Here's a design company that knows how to lead with simplicity in its case studies. As soon as the visitor arrives at the page, they’re greeted with a big, bold photo and the title of the case study — which just so happens to summarize how IDEO helped its client. It summarizes the case study in three snippets: The challenge, the impact, and the outcome.

Immediately, IDEO communicates its impact — the company partnered with H&M to remove plastic from its packaging — but it doesn't stop there. As the user scrolls down, the challenge, impact, and progress are elaborated upon with comprehensive (but not overwhelming) copy that outlines what that process looked like, replete with quotes and intriguing visuals.

Key Learnings from the IDEO Case Study Example

  • Split up the takeaways of your case studies into bite-sized sections.
  • Always use visuals and images to enrich the case study experience, especially if it’s a comprehensive case study.

3. " Rozum Robotics intensifies its PR game with Awario ," by Awario

Case study example from Awario

In this case study, Awario greets the user with a summary straight away — so if you’re feeling up to reading the entire case study, you can scan the snapshot and understand how the company serves its customers. The case study then includes jump links to several sections, such as "Company Profile," "Rozum Robotics' Pains," "Challenge," "Solution," and "Results and Improvements."

The sparse copy and prominent headings show that you don’t need a lot of elaborate information to show the value of your products and services. Like the other case study examples on this list, it includes visuals and quotes to demonstrate the effectiveness of the company’s efforts. The case study ends with a bulleted list that shows the results.

Key Learnings from the Awario Robotics Case Study Example

  • Create a table of contents to make your case study easier to navigate.
  • Include a bulleted list of the results you achieved for your client.

4. " Chevrolet DTU ," by Carol H. Williams

Case study examples: Carol H. Williams and Chevrolet DTU

If you’ve worked with a company that’s well-known, use only the name in the title — like Carol H. Williams, one of the nation’s top advertising agencies, does here. The "DTU," stands for "Discover the Unexpected." It generates interest because you want to find out what the initials mean.

They keep your interest in this case study by using a mixture of headings, images, and videos to describe the challenges, objectives, and solutions of the project. The case study closes with a summary of the key achievements that Chevrolet’s DTU Journalism Fellows reached during the project.

Key Learnings from the Carol H. Williams Case Study Example

  • If you’ve worked with a big brand before, consider only using the name in the title — just enough to pique interest.
  • Use a mixture of headings and subheadings to guide users through the case study.

5. " How Fractl Earned Links from 931 Unique Domains for in a Single Year ," by Fractl

Case study example from Fractl

Fractl uses both text and graphic design in their case study to immerse the viewer in a more interesting user experience. For instance, as you scroll, you'll see the results are illustrated in an infographic-design form as well as the text itself.

Further down the page, they use icons like a heart and a circle to illustrate their pitch angles, and graphs to showcase their results. Rather than writing which publications have mentioned during Fractl’s campaign, they incorporated the media outlets’ icons for further visual diversity.

Key Learnings from the Fractl Case Study Example

  • Let pictures speak for you by incorporating graphs, logos, and icons all throughout the case study.
  • Start the case study by right away stating the key results, like Fractl does, instead of putting the results all the way at the bottom.

6. " The Met ," by Fantasy

Case study example from Fantasy

What's the best way to showcase the responsiveness and user interface of a website? Probably by diving right into it with a series of simple showcases— which is exactly what Fantasy does on their case study page for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They keep the page simple and clean, inviting you to review their redesign of the Met’s website feature-by-feature.

Each section is simple, showing a single piece of the new website's interface so that users aren’t overwhelmed with information and can focus on what matters most.

If you're more interested in text, you can read the objective for each feature. Fantasy understands that, as a potential customer, this is all you need to know. Scrolling further, you're greeted with a simple "Contact Us" CTA.

Key Learnings from the Fantasy Case Study Example

  • You don’t have to write a ton of text to create a great case study. Focus on the solution you delivered itself.
  • Include a CTA at the bottom inviting visitors to contact you.

7. " Rovio: How Rovio Grew Into a Gaming Superpower ," by App Annie

Case study example from App Annie

If your client had a lot of positive things to say about you, take a note from App Annie’s Rovio case study and open up with a quote from your client. The case study also closes with a quote, so that the case study doesn’t seem like a promotion written by your marketing team but a story that’s taken straight from your client’s mouth. It includes a photo of a Rovio employee, too.

Another thing this example does well? It immediately includes a link to the product that Rovio used (namely, App Annie Intelligence) at the top of the case study. The case study closes with a call-to-action button prompting users to book a demo.

Key Learnings from the App Annie Case Study Example

  • Feature quotes from your client at the beginning and end of the case study.
  • Include a mention of the product right at the beginning and prompt users to learn more about the product.

8. " Embracing first-party data: 3 success stories from HubSpot ," by Think with Google

Case study examples: Think with Google and HubSpot

Google takes a different approach to text-focused case studies by choosing three different companies to highlight.

The case study is clean and easily scannable. It has sections for each company, with quotes and headers that clarify the way these three distinct stories connect. The simple format also uses colors and text that align with the Google brand.

Another differentiator is the focus on data. This case study is less than a thousand words, but it's packed with useful data points. Data-driven insights quickly and clearly show how the value of leveraging first-party data while prioritizing consumer privacy.

Case studies example: Data focus, Think with Google

Key Learnings from the Think with Google Case Study Example

  • A case study doesn’t need to be long or complex to be powerful.
  • Clear data points are a quick and effective way to prove value.

9. " In-Depth Performance Marketing Case Study ," by Switch

Case study example from Switch

Switch is an international marketing agency based in Malta that knocks it out of the park with this case study. Its biggest challenge is effectively communicating what it did for its client without ever revealing the client’s name. It also effectively keeps non-marketers in the loop by including a glossary of terms on page 4.

The PDF case study reads like a compelling research article, including titles like "In-Depth Performance Marketing Case Study," "Scenario," and "Approach," so that readers get a high-level overview of what the client needed and why they approached Switch. It also includes a different page for each strategy. For instance, if you’d only be interested in hiring Switch for optimizing your Facebook ads, you can skip to page 10 to see how they did it.

The PDF is fourteen pages long but features big fonts and plenty of white space, so viewers can easily skim it in only a few minutes.

Key Learnings from the Switch Case Study Example

  • If you want to go into specialized information, include a glossary of terms so that non-specialists can easily understand.
  • Close with a CTA page in your case study PDF and include contact information for prospective clients.

10. " Gila River ," by OH Partners

Case study example from OH Partners

Let pictures speak for you, like OH Partners did in this case study. While you’ll quickly come across a heading and some text when you land on this case study page, you’ll get the bulk of the case study through examples of actual work OH Partners did for its client. You will see OH Partners’ work in a billboard, magazine, and video. This communicates to website visitors that if they work with OH Partners, their business will be visible everywhere.

And like the other case studies here, it closes with a summary of what the firm achieved for its client in an eye-catching way.

Key Learnings from the OH Partners Case Study Example

  • Let the visuals speak by including examples of the actual work you did for your client — which is especially useful for branding and marketing agencies.
  • Always close out with your achievements and how they impacted your client.

11. " Facing a Hater ," by Digitas

Case study example from Digitas

Digitas' case study page for Sprite’s #ILOVEYOUHATER campaign keeps it brief while communicating the key facts of Digitas’ work for the popular soda brand. The page opens with an impactful image of a hundred people facing a single man. It turns out, that man is the biggest "bully" in Argentina, and the people facing him are those whom he’s bullied before.

Scrolling down, it's obvious that Digitas kept Sprite at the forefront of their strategy, but more than that, they used real people as their focal point. They leveraged the Twitter API to pull data from Tweets that people had actually tweeted to find the identity of the biggest "hater" in the country. That turned out to be @AguanteElCofler, a Twitter user who has since been suspended.

Key Learnings from the Digitas Case Study Example

  • If a video was part of your work for your client, be sure to include the most impactful screenshot as the heading.
  • Don’t be afraid to provide details on how you helped your client achieve their goals, including the tools you leveraged.

12. " Better Experiences for All ," by HermanMiller

Case study example from HermanMiller

HermanMiller sells sleek, utilitarian furniture with no frills and extreme functionality, and that ethos extends to its case study page for a hospital in Dubai.

What first attracted me to this case study was the beautiful video at the top and the clean user experience. User experience matters a lot in a case study. It determines whether users will keep reading or leave. Another notable aspect of this case study is that the video includes closed-captioning for greater accessibility, and users have the option of expanding the CC and searching through the text.

HermanMiller’s case study also offers an impressive amount of information packed in just a few short paragraphs for those wanting to understand the nuances of their strategy. It closes out with a quote from their client and, most importantly, the list of furniture products that the hospital purchased from the brand.

Key Learnings from the HermanMiller Case Study Example

  • Close out with a list of products that users can buy after reading the case study.
  • Include accessibility features such as closed captioning and night mode to make your case study more user-friendly.

13. " Capital One on AWS ," by Amazon

Case study example from Amazon AWS

Do you work continuously with your clients? Consider structuring your case study page like Amazon did in this stellar case study example. Instead of just featuring one article about Capital One and how it benefited from using AWS, Amazon features a series of articles that you can then access if you’re interested in reading more. It goes all the way back to 2016, all with different stories that feature Capital One’s achievements using AWS.

This may look unattainable for a small firm, but you don’t have to go to extreme measures and do it for every single one of your clients. You could choose the one you most wish to focus on and establish a contact both on your side and your client’s for coming up with the content. Check in every year and write a new piece. These don’t have to be long, either — five hundred to eight hundred words will do.

Key Learnings from the Amazon AWS Case Study Example

  • Write a new article each year featuring one of your clients, then include links to those articles in one big case study page.
  • Consider including external articles as well that emphasize your client’s success in their industry.

14. " HackReactor teaches the world to code #withAsana ," by Asana

Case study examples: Asana and HackReactor

While Asana's case study design looks text-heavy, there's a good reason. It reads like a creative story, told entirely from the customer's perspective.

For instance, Asana knows you won't trust its word alone on why this product is useful. So, they let Tony Phillips, HackReactor CEO, tell you instead: "We take in a lot of information. Our brains are awful at storage but very good at thinking; you really start to want some third party to store your information so you can do something with it."

Asana features frequent quotes from Phillips to break up the wall of text and humanize the case study. It reads like an in-depth interview and captivates the reader through creative storytelling. Even more, Asana includes in-depth detail about how HackReactor uses Asana. This includes how they build templates and workflows:

"There's a huge differentiator between Asana and other tools, and that’s the very easy API access. Even if Asana isn’t the perfect fit for a workflow, someone like me— a relatively mediocre software engineer—can add functionality via the API to build a custom solution that helps a team get more done."

Key Learnings from the Asana Example

  • Include quotes from your client throughout the case study.
  • Provide extensive detail on how your client worked with you or used your product.

15. " Rips Sewed, Brand Love Reaped ," by Amp Agency

Case study example from Amp Agency

Amp Agency's Patagonia marketing strategy aimed to appeal to a new audience through guerrilla marketing efforts and a coast-to-coast road trip. Their case study page effectively conveys a voyager theme, complete with real photos of Patagonia customers from across the U.S., and a map of the expedition. I liked Amp Agency's storytelling approach best. It captures viewers' attention from start to finish simply because it's an intriguing and unique approach to marketing.

Key Learnings from the Amp Agency Example

  • Open up with a summary that communicates who your client is and why they reached out to you.
  • Like in the other case study examples, you’ll want to close out with a quantitative list of your achievements.

16. " NetApp ," by Evisort

Case study examples: Evisort and NetApp

Evisort opens up its NetApp case study with an at-a-glance overview of the client. It’s imperative to always focus on the client in your case study — not on your amazing product and equally amazing team. By opening up with a snapshot of the client’s company, Evisort places the focus on the client.

This case study example checks all the boxes for a great case study that’s informative, thorough, and compelling. It includes quotes from the client and details about the challenges NetApp faced during the COVID pandemic. It closes out with a quote from the client and with a link to download the case study in PDF format, which is incredibly important if you want your case study to be accessible in a wider variety of formats.

Key Learnings from the Evisort Example

  • Place the focus immediately on your client by including a snapshot of their company.
  • Mention challenging eras, such as a pandemic or recession, to show how your company can help your client succeed even during difficult times.

17. " Copernicus Land Monitoring – CLC+ Core ," by Cloudflight

Case study example from Cloudflight

Including highly specialized information in your case study is an effective way to show prospects that you’re not just trying to get their business. You’re deep within their industry, too, and willing to learn everything you need to learn to create a solution that works specifically for them.

Cloudflight does a splendid job at that in its Copernicus Land Monitoring case study. While the information may be difficult to read at first glance, it will capture the interest of prospects who are in the environmental industry. It thus shows Cloudflight’s value as a partner much more effectively than a general case study would.

The page is comprehensive and ends with a compelling call-to-action — "Looking for a solution that automates, and enhances your Big Data system? Are you struggling with large datasets and accessibility? We would be happy to advise and support you!" The clean, whitespace-heavy page is an effective example of using a case study to capture future leads.

Key Learnings from the Cloudflight Case Study Example

  • Don’t be afraid to get technical in your explanation of what you did for your client.
  • Include a snapshot of the sales representative prospects should contact, especially if you have different sales reps for different industries, like Cloudflight does.

18. " Valvoline Increases Coupon Send Rate by 76% with Textel’s MMS Picture Texting ," by Textel

Case study example from Textel

If you’re targeting large enterprises with a long purchasing cycle, you’ll want to include a wealth of information in an easily transferable format. That’s what Textel does here in its PDF case study for Valvoline. It greets the user with an eye-catching headline that shows the value of using Textel. Valvoline saw a significant return on investment from using the platform.

Another smart decision in this case study is highlighting the client’s quote by putting it in green font and doing the same thing for the client’s results because it helps the reader quickly connect the two pieces of information. If you’re in a hurry, you can also take a look at the "At a Glance" column to get the key facts of the case study, starting with information about Valvoline.

Key Learnings from the Textel Case Study Example

  • Include your client’s ROI right in the title of the case study.
  • Add an "At a Glance" column to your case study PDF to make it easy to get insights without needing to read all the text.

19. " Hunt Club and Happeo — a tech-enabled love story ," by Happeo

Case study example from Happeo

In this blog-post-like case study, Happeo opens with a quote from the client, then dives into a compelling heading: "Technology at the forefront of Hunt Club's strategy." Say you’re investigating Happeo as a solution and consider your firm to be technology-driven. This approach would spark your curiosity about why the client chose to work with Happeo. It also effectively communicates the software’s value proposition without sounding like it’s coming from an in-house marketing team.

Every paragraph is a quote written from the customer’s perspective. Later down the page, the case study also dives into "the features that changed the game for Hunt Club," giving Happeo a chance to highlight some of the platform’s most salient features.

Key Learnings from the Happeo Case Study Example

  • Consider writing the entirety of the case study from the perspective of the customer.
  • Include a list of the features that convinced your client to go with you.

20. " Red Sox Season Campaign ," by CTP Boston

Case study example from CTP Boston

What's great about CTP's case study page for their Red Sox Season Campaign is their combination of video, images, and text. A video automatically begins playing when you visit the page, and as you scroll, you'll see more embedded videos of Red Sox players, a compilation of print ads, and social media images you can click to enlarge.

At the bottom, it says "Find out how we can do something similar for your brand." The page is clean, cohesive, and aesthetically pleasing. It invites viewers to appreciate the well-roundedness of CTP's campaign for Boston's beloved baseball team.

Key Learnings from the CTP Case Study Example

  • Include a video in the heading of the case study.
  • Close with a call-to-action that makes leads want to turn into prospects.

21. " Acoustic ," by Genuine

Case study example from Genuine

Sometimes, simple is key. Genuine's case study for Acoustic is straightforward and minimal, with just a few short paragraphs, including "Reimagining the B2B website experience," "Speaking to marketers 1:1," and "Inventing Together." After the core of the case study, we then see a quote from Acoustic’s CMO and the results Genuine achieved for the company.

The simplicity of the page allows the reader to focus on both the visual aspects and the copy. The page displays Genuine's brand personality while offering the viewer all the necessary information they need.

  • You don’t need to write a lot to create a great case study. Keep it simple.
  • Always include quantifiable data to illustrate the results you achieved for your client.

22. " Using Apptio Targetprocess Automated Rules in Wargaming ," by Apptio

Case study example from Apptio

Apptio’s case study for Wargaming summarizes three key pieces of information right at the beginning: The goals, the obstacles, and the results.

Readers then have the opportunity to continue reading — or they can walk away right then with the information they need. This case study also excels in keeping the human interest factor by formatting the information like an interview.

The piece is well-organized and uses compelling headers to keep the reader engaged. Despite its length, Apptio's case study is appealing enough to keep the viewer's attention. Every Apptio case study ends with a "recommendation for other companies" section, where the client can give advice for other companies that are looking for a similar solution but aren’t sure how to get started.

Key Learnings from the Apptio Case Study Example

  • Put your client in an advisory role by giving them the opportunity to give recommendations to other companies that are reading the case study.
  • Include the takeaways from the case study right at the beginning so prospects quickly get what they need.

23. " Airbnb + Zendesk: building a powerful solution together ," by Zendesk

Case study example from Zendesk

Zendesk's Airbnb case study reads like a blog post, and focuses equally on Zendesk and Airbnb, highlighting a true partnership between the companies. To captivate readers, it begins like this: "Halfway around the globe is a place to stay with your name on it. At least for a weekend."

The piece focuses on telling a good story and provides photographs of beautiful Airbnb locations. In a case study meant to highlight Zendesk's helpfulness, nothing could be more authentic than their decision to focus on Airbnb's service in such great detail.

Key Learnings from the Zendesk Case Study Example

  • Include images of your client’s offerings — not necessarily of the service or product you provided. Notice how Zendesk doesn’t include screenshots of its product.
  • Include a call-to-action right at the beginning of the case study. Zendesk gives you two options: to find a solution or start a trial.

24. " Biobot Customer Success Story: Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida ," by Biobot

Case study example from Biobot

Like some of the other top examples in this list, Biobot opens its case study with a quote from its client, which captures the value proposition of working with Biobot. It mentions the COVID pandemic and goes into detail about the challenges the client faced during this time.

This case study is structured more like a news article than a traditional case study. This format can work in more formal industries where decision-makers need to see in-depth information about the case. Be sure to test different methods and measure engagement .

Key Learnings from the Biobot Case Study Example

  • Mention environmental, public health, or economic emergencies and how you helped your client get past such difficult times.
  • Feel free to write the case study like a normal blog post, but be sure to test different methods to find the one that best works for you.

25. " Discovering Cost Savings With Efficient Decision Making ," by Gartner

Case study example from Gartner

You don't always need a ton of text or a video to convey your message — sometimes, you just need a few paragraphs and bullet points. Gartner does a fantastic job of quickly providing the fundamental statistics a potential customer would need to know, without boggling down their readers with dense paragraphs. The case study closes with a shaded box that summarizes the impact that Gartner had on its client. It includes a quote and a call-to-action to "Learn More."

Key Learnings from the Gartner Case Study Example

  • Feel free to keep the case study short.
  • Include a call-to-action at the bottom that takes the reader to a page that most relates to them.

26. " Bringing an Operator to the Game ," by Redapt

Case study example from Redapt

This case study example by Redapt is another great demonstration of the power of summarizing your case study’s takeaways right at the start of the study. Redapt includes three easy-to-scan columns: "The problem," "the solution," and "the outcome." But its most notable feature is a section titled "Moment of clarity," which shows why this particular project was difficult or challenging.

The section is shaded in green, making it impossible to miss. Redapt does the same thing for each case study. In the same way, you should highlight the "turning point" for both you and your client when you were working toward a solution.

Key Learnings from the Redapt Case Study Example

  • Highlight the turning point for both you and your client during the solution-seeking process.
  • Use the same structure (including the same headings) for your case studies to make them easy to scan and read.

27. " Virtual Call Center Sees 300% Boost In Contact Rate ," by Convoso

Case study example from Convoso

Convoso’s PDF case study for Digital Market Media immediately mentions the results that the client achieved and takes advantage of white space. On the second page, the case study presents more influential results. It’s colorful and engaging and closes with a spread that prompts readers to request a demo.

Key Learnings from the Convoso Case Study Example

  • List the results of your work right at the beginning of the case study.
  • Use color to differentiate your case study from others. Convoso’s example is one of the most colorful ones on this list.

28. " Ensuring quality of service during a pandemic ," by Ericsson

Case study example from Ericsson

Ericsson’s case study page for Orange Spain is an excellent example of using diverse written and visual media — such as videos, graphs, and quotes — to showcase the success a client experienced. Throughout the case study, Ericsson provides links to product and service pages users might find relevant as they’re reading the study.

For instance, under the heading "Preloaded with the power of automation," Ericsson mentions its Ericsson Operations Engine product, then links to that product page. It closes the case study with a link to another product page.

Key Learnings from the Ericsson Case Study Example

  • Link to product pages throughout the case study so that readers can learn more about the solution you offer.
  • Use multimedia to engage users as they read the case study.

Start creating your case study.

Now that you've got a great list of examples of case studies, think about a topic you'd like to write about that highlights your company or work you did with a customer.

A customer’s success story is the most persuasive marketing material you could ever create. With a strong portfolio of case studies, you can ensure prospects know why they should give you their business.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Case study definition

case study what are

Case study, a term which some of you may know from the "Case Study of Vanitas" anime and manga, is a thorough examination of a particular subject, such as a person, group, location, occasion, establishment, phenomena, etc. They are most frequently utilized in research of business, medicine, education and social behaviour. There are a different types of case studies that researchers might use:

• Collective case studies

• Descriptive case studies

• Explanatory case studies

• Exploratory case studies

• Instrumental case studies

• Intrinsic case studies

Case studies are usually much more sophisticated and professional than regular essays and courseworks, as they require a lot of verified data, are research-oriented and not necessarily designed to be read by the general public.

How to write a case study?

It very much depends on the topic of your case study, as a medical case study and a coffee business case study have completely different sources, outlines, target demographics, etc. But just for this example, let's outline a coffee roaster case study. Firstly, it's likely going to be a problem-solving case study, like most in the business and economics field are. Here are some tips for these types of case studies:

• Your case scenario should be precisely defined in terms of your unique assessment criteria.

• Determine the primary issues by analyzing the scenario. Think about how they connect to the main ideas and theories in your piece.

• Find and investigate any theories or methods that might be relevant to your case.

• Keep your audience in mind. Exactly who are your stakeholder(s)? If writing a case study on coffee roasters, it's probably gonna be suppliers, landlords, investors, customers, etc.

• Indicate the best solution(s) and how they should be implemented. Make sure your suggestions are grounded in pertinent theories and useful resources, as well as being realistic, practical, and attainable.

• Carefully proofread your case study. Keep in mind these four principles when editing: clarity, honesty, reality and relevance.

Are there any online services that could write a case study for me?

Luckily, there are!

We completely understand and have been ourselves in a position, where we couldn't wrap our head around how to write an effective and useful case study, but don't fear - our service is here.

We are a group that specializes in writing all kinds of case studies and other projects for academic customers and business clients who require assistance with its creation. We require our writers to have a degree in your topic and carefully interview them before they can join our team, as we try to ensure quality above all. We cover a great range of topics, offer perfect quality work, always deliver on time and aim to leave our customers completely satisfied with what they ordered.

The ordering process is fully online, and it goes as follows:

• Select the topic and the deadline of your case study.

• Provide us with any details, requirements, statements that should be emphasized or particular parts of the writing process you struggle with.

• Leave the email address, where your completed order will be sent to.

• Select your payment type, sit back and relax!

With lots of experience on the market, professionally degreed writers, online 24/7 customer support and incredibly low prices, you won't find a service offering a better deal than ours.

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15 Real-Life Case Study Examples & Best Practices

15 Real-Life Case Study Examples & Best Practices

Written by: Oghale Olori

Real-Life Case Study Examples

Case studies are more than just success stories.

They are powerful tools that demonstrate the practical value of your product or service. Case studies help attract attention to your products, build trust with potential customers and ultimately drive sales.

It’s no wonder that 73% of successful content marketers utilize case studies as part of their content strategy. Plus, buyers spend 54% of their time reviewing case studies before they make a buying decision.

To ensure you’re making the most of your case studies, we’ve put together 15 real-life case study examples to inspire you. These examples span a variety of industries and formats. We’ve also included best practices, design tips and templates to inspire you.

Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

What is a case study, 15 real-life case study examples, sales case study examples, saas case study examples, product case study examples, marketing case study examples, business case study examples, case study faqs.

  • A case study is a compelling narrative that showcases how your product or service has positively impacted a real business or individual. 
  • Case studies delve into your customer's challenges, how your solution addressed them and the quantifiable results they achieved.
  • Your case study should have an attention-grabbing headline, great visuals and a relevant call to action. Other key elements include an introduction, problems and result section.
  • Visme provides easy-to-use tools, professionally designed templates and features for creating attractive and engaging case studies.

A case study is a real-life scenario where your company helped a person or business solve their unique challenges. It provides a detailed analysis of the positive outcomes achieved as a result of implementing your solution.

Case studies are an effective way to showcase the value of your product or service to potential customers without overt selling. By sharing how your company transformed a business, you can attract customers seeking similar solutions and results.

Case studies are not only about your company's capabilities; they are primarily about the benefits customers and clients have experienced from using your product.

Every great case study is made up of key elements. They are;

  • Attention-grabbing headline: Write a compelling headline that grabs attention and tells your reader what the case study is about. For example, "How a CRM System Helped a B2B Company Increase Revenue by 225%.
  • Introduction/Executive Summary: Include a brief overview of your case study, including your customer’s problem, the solution they implemented and the results they achieved.
  • Problem/Challenge: Case studies with solutions offer a powerful way to connect with potential customers. In this section, explain how your product or service specifically addressed your customer's challenges.
  • Solution: Explain how your product or service specifically addressed your customer's challenges.
  • Results/Achievements : Give a detailed account of the positive impact of your product. Quantify the benefits achieved using metrics such as increased sales, improved efficiency, reduced costs or enhanced customer satisfaction.
  • Graphics/Visuals: Include professional designs, high-quality photos and videos to make your case study more engaging and visually appealing.
  • Quotes/Testimonials: Incorporate written or video quotes from your clients to boost your credibility.
  • Relevant CTA: Insert a call to action (CTA) that encourages the reader to take action. For example, visiting your website or contacting you for more information. Your CTA can be a link to a landing page, a contact form or your social media handle and should be related to the product or service you highlighted in your case study.

Parts of a Case Study Infographic

Now that you understand what a case study is, let’s look at real-life case study examples. Among these, you'll find some simple case study examples that break down complex ideas into easily understandable solutions.

In this section, we’ll explore SaaS, marketing, sales, product and business case study examples with solutions. Take note of how these companies structured their case studies and included the key elements.

We’ve also included professionally designed case study templates to inspire you.

1. Georgia Tech Athletics Increase Season Ticket Sales by 80%

Case Study Examples

Georgia Tech Athletics, with its 8,000 football season ticket holders, sought for a way to increase efficiency and customer engagement.

Their initial sales process involved making multiple outbound phone calls per day with no real targeting or guidelines. Georgia Tech believed that targeting communications will enable them to reach more people in real time.

Salesloft improved Georgia Tech’s sales process with an inbound structure. This enabled sales reps to connect with their customers on a more targeted level. The use of dynamic fields and filters when importing lists ensured prospects received the right information, while communication with existing fans became faster with automation.

As a result, Georgia Tech Athletics recorded an 80% increase in season ticket sales as relationships with season ticket holders significantly improved. Employee engagement increased as employees became more energized to connect and communicate with fans.

Why Does This Case Study Work?

In this case study example , Salesloft utilized the key elements of a good case study. Their introduction gave an overview of their customers' challenges and the results they enjoyed after using them. After which they categorized the case study into three main sections: challenge, solution and result.

Salesloft utilized a case study video to increase engagement and invoke human connection.

Incorporating videos in your case study has a lot of benefits. Wyzol’s 2023 state of video marketing report showed a direct correlation between videos and an 87% increase in sales.

The beautiful thing is that creating videos for your case study doesn’t have to be daunting.

With an easy-to-use platform like Visme, you can create top-notch testimonial videos that will connect with your audience. Within the Visme editor, you can access over 1 million stock photos , video templates, animated graphics and more. These tools and resources will significantly improve the design and engagement of your case study.

Simplify content creation and brand management for your team

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case study what are

2. WeightWatchers Completely Revamped their Enterprise Sales Process with HubSpot

Case Study Examples

WeightWatchers, a 60-year-old wellness company, sought a CRM solution that increased the efficiency of their sales process. With their previous system, Weightwatchers had limited automation. They would copy-paste message templates from word documents or recreate one email for a batch of customers.

This required a huge effort from sales reps, account managers and leadership, as they were unable to track leads or pull customized reports for planning and growth.

WeightWatchers transformed their B2B sales strategy by leveraging HubSpot's robust marketing and sales workflows. They utilized HubSpot’s deal pipeline and automation features to streamline lead qualification. And the customized dashboard gave leadership valuable insights.

As a result, WeightWatchers generated seven figures in annual contract value and boosted recurring revenue. Hubspot’s impact resulted in 100% adoption across all sales, marketing, client success and operations teams.

Hubspot structured its case study into separate sections, demonstrating the specific benefits of their products to various aspects of the customer's business. Additionally, they integrated direct customer quotes in each section to boost credibility, resulting in a more compelling case study.

Getting insight from your customer about their challenges is one thing. But writing about their process and achievements in a concise and relatable way is another. If you find yourself constantly experiencing writer’s block, Visme’s AI writer is perfect for you.

Visme created this AI text generator tool to take your ideas and transform them into a great draft. So whether you need help writing your first draft or editing your final case study, Visme is ready for you.

3. Immi’s Ram Fam Helps to Drive Over $200k in Sales

Case Study Examples

Immi embarked on a mission to recreate healthier ramen recipes that were nutritious and delicious. After 2 years of tireless trials, Immi finally found the perfect ramen recipe. However, they envisioned a community of passionate ramen enthusiasts to fuel their business growth.

This vision propelled them to partner with Shopify Collabs. Shopify Collabs successfully cultivated and managed Immi’s Ramen community of ambassadors and creators.

As a result of their partnership, Immi’s community grew to more than 400 dedicated members, generating over $200,000 in total affiliate sales.

The power of data-driven headlines cannot be overemphasized. Chili Piper strategically incorporates quantifiable results in their headlines. This instantly sparks curiosity and interest in readers.

While not every customer success story may boast headline-grabbing figures, quantifying achievements in percentages is still effective. For example, you can highlight a 50% revenue increase with the implementation of your product.

Take a look at the beautiful case study template below. Just like in the example above, the figures in the headline instantly grab attention and entice your reader to click through.

Having a case study document is a key factor in boosting engagement. This makes it easy to promote your case study in multiple ways. With Visme, you can easily publish, download and share your case study with your customers in a variety of formats, including PDF, PPTX, JPG and more!

Financial Case Study

4. How WOW! is Saving Nearly 79% in Time and Cost With Visme

This case study discusses how Visme helped WOW! save time and money by providing user-friendly tools to create interactive and quality training materials for their employees. Find out what your team can do with Visme. Request a Demo

WOW!'s learning and development team creates high-quality training materials for new and existing employees. Previous tools and platforms they used had plain templates, little to no interactivity features, and limited flexibility—that is, until they discovered Visme.

Now, the learning and development team at WOW! use Visme to create engaging infographics, training videos, slide decks and other training materials.

This has directly reduced the company's turnover rate, saving them money spent on recruiting and training new employees. It has also saved them a significant amount of time, which they can now allocate to other important tasks.

Visme's customer testimonials spark an emotional connection with the reader, leaving a profound impact. Upon reading this case study, prospective customers will be blown away by the remarkable efficiency achieved by Visme's clients after switching from PowerPoint.

Visme’s interactivity feature was a game changer for WOW! and one of the primary reasons they chose Visme.

“Previously we were using PowerPoint, which is fine, but the interactivity you can get with Visme is so much more robust that we’ve all steered away from PowerPoint.” - Kendra, L&D team, Wow!

Visme’s interactive feature allowed them to animate their infographics, include clickable links on their PowerPoint designs and even embed polls and quizzes their employees could interact with.

By embedding the slide decks, infographics and other training materials WOW! created with Visme, potential customers get a taste of what they can create with the tool. This is much more effective than describing the features of Visme because it allows potential customers to see the tool in action.

To top it all off, this case study utilized relevant data and figures. For example, one part of the case study said, “In Visme, where Kendra’s team has access to hundreds of templates, a brand kit, and millions of design assets at their disposal, their team can create presentations in 80% less time.”

Who wouldn't want that?

Including relevant figures and graphics in your case study is a sure way to convince your potential customers why you’re a great fit for their brand. The case study template below is a great example of integrating relevant figures and data.

UX Case Study

This colorful template begins with a captivating headline. But that is not the best part; this template extensively showcases the results their customer had using relevant figures.

The arrangement of the results makes it fun and attractive. Instead of just putting figures in a plain table, you can find interesting shapes in your Visme editor to take your case study to the next level.

5. Lyte Reduces Customer Churn To Just 3% With Hubspot CRM

Case Study Examples

While Lyte was redefining the ticketing industry, it had no definite CRM system . Lyte utilized 12–15 different SaaS solutions across various departments, which led to a lack of alignment between teams, duplication of work and overlapping tasks.

Customer data was spread across these platforms, making it difficult to effectively track their customer journey. As a result, their churn rate increased along with customer dissatisfaction.

Through Fuelius , Lyte founded and implemented Hubspot CRM. Lyte's productivity skyrocketed after incorporating Hubspot's all-in-one CRM tool. With improved efficiency, better teamwork and stronger client relationships, sales figures soared.

The case study title page and executive summary act as compelling entry points for both existing and potential customers. This overview provides a clear understanding of the case study and also strategically incorporates key details like the client's industry, location and relevant background information.

Having a good summary of your case study can prompt your readers to engage further. You can achieve this with a simple but effective case study one-pager that highlights your customer’s problems, process and achievements, just like this case study did in the beginning.

Moreover, you can easily distribute your case study one-pager and use it as a lead magnet to draw prospective customers to your company.

Take a look at this case study one-pager template below.

Ecommerce One Pager Case Study

This template includes key aspects of your case study, such as the introduction, key findings, conclusion and more, without overcrowding the page. The use of multiple shades of blue gives it a clean and dynamic layout.

Our favorite part of this template is where the age group is visualized.

With Visme’s data visualization tool , you can present your data in tables, graphs, progress bars, maps and so much more. All you need to do is choose your preferred data visualization widget, input or import your data and click enter!

6. How Workato Converts 75% of Their Qualified Leads

Case Study Examples

Workato wanted to improve their inbound leads and increase their conversion rate, which ranged from 40-55%.

At first, Workato searched for a simple scheduling tool. They soon discovered that they needed a tool that provided advanced routing capabilities based on zip code and other criteria. Luckily, they found and implemented Chili Piper.

As a result of implementing Chili Piper, Workato achieved a remarkable 75–80% conversion rate and improved show rates. This led to a substantial revenue boost, with a 10-15% increase in revenue attributed to Chili Piper's impact on lead conversion.

This case study example utilizes the power of video testimonials to drive the impact of their product.

Chili Piper incorporates screenshots and clips of their tool in use. This is a great strategy because it helps your viewers become familiar with how your product works, making onboarding new customers much easier.

In this case study example, we see the importance of efficient Workflow Management Systems (WMS). Without a WMS, you manually assign tasks to your team members and engage in multiple emails for regular updates on progress.

However, when crafting and designing your case study, you should prioritize having a good WMS.

Visme has an outstanding Workflow Management System feature that keeps you on top of all your projects and designs. This feature makes it much easier to assign roles, ensure accuracy across documents, and track progress and deadlines.

Visme’s WMS feature allows you to limit access to your entire document by assigning specific slides or pages to individual members of your team. At the end of the day, your team members are not overwhelmed or distracted by the whole document but can focus on their tasks.

7. Rush Order Helps Vogmask Scale-Up During a Pandemic

Case Study Examples

Vomask's reliance on third-party fulfillment companies became a challenge as demand for their masks grew. Seeking a reliable fulfillment partner, they found Rush Order and entrusted them with their entire inventory.

Vomask's partnership with Rush Order proved to be a lifesaver during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rush Order's agility, efficiency and commitment to customer satisfaction helped Vogmask navigate the unprecedented demand and maintain its reputation for quality and service.

Rush Order’s comprehensive support enabled Vogmask to scale up its order processing by a staggering 900% while maintaining a remarkable customer satisfaction rate of 92%.

Rush Order chose one event where their impact mattered the most to their customer and shared that story.

While pandemics don't happen every day, you can look through your customer’s journey and highlight a specific time or scenario where your product or service saved their business.

The story of Vogmask and Rush Order is compelling, but it simply is not enough. The case study format and design attract readers' attention and make them want to know more. Rush Order uses consistent colors throughout the case study, starting with the logo, bold square blocks, pictures, and even headers.

Take a look at this product case study template below.

Just like our example, this case study template utilizes bold colors and large squares to attract and maintain the reader’s attention. It provides enough room for you to write about your customers' backgrounds/introductions, challenges, goals and results.

The right combination of shapes and colors adds a level of professionalism to this case study template.

Fuji Xerox Australia Business Equipment Case Study

8. AMR Hair & Beauty leverages B2B functionality to boost sales by 200%

Case Study Examples

With limits on website customization, slow page loading and multiple website crashes during peak events, it wasn't long before AMR Hair & Beauty began looking for a new e-commerce solution.

Their existing platform lacked effective search and filtering options, a seamless checkout process and the data analytics capabilities needed for informed decision-making. This led to a significant number of abandoned carts.

Upon switching to Shopify Plus, AMR immediately saw improvements in page loading speed and average session duration. They added better search and filtering options for their wholesale customers and customized their checkout process.

Due to this, AMR witnessed a 200% increase in sales and a 77% rise in B2B average order value. AMR Hair & Beauty is now poised for further expansion and growth.

This case study example showcases the power of a concise and impactful narrative.

To make their case analysis more effective, Shopify focused on the most relevant aspects of the customer's journey. While there may have been other challenges the customer faced, they only included those that directly related to their solutions.

Take a look at this case study template below. It is perfect if you want to create a concise but effective case study. Without including unnecessary details, you can outline the challenges, solutions and results your customers experienced from using your product.

Don’t forget to include a strong CTA within your case study. By incorporating a link, sidebar pop-up or an exit pop-up into your case study, you can prompt your readers and prospective clients to connect with you.

Search Marketing Case Study

9. How a Marketing Agency Uses Visme to Create Engaging Content With Infographics

Case Study Examples

SmartBox Dental , a marketing agency specializing in dental practices, sought ways to make dental advice more interesting and easier to read. However, they lacked the design skills to do so effectively.

Visme's wide range of templates and features made it easy for the team to create high-quality content quickly and efficiently. SmartBox Dental enjoyed creating infographics in as little as 10-15 minutes, compared to one hour before Visme was implemented.

By leveraging Visme, SmartBox Dental successfully transformed dental content into a more enjoyable and informative experience for their clients' patients. Therefore enhancing its reputation as a marketing partner that goes the extra mile to deliver value to its clients.

Visme creatively incorporates testimonials In this case study example.

By showcasing infographics and designs created by their clients, they leverage the power of social proof in a visually compelling way. This way, potential customers gain immediate insight into the creative possibilities Visme offers as a design tool.

This example effectively showcases a product's versatility and impact, and we can learn a lot about writing a case study from it. Instead of focusing on one tool or feature per customer, Visme took a more comprehensive approach.

Within each section of their case study, Visme explained how a particular tool or feature played a key role in solving the customer's challenges.

For example, this case study highlighted Visme’s collaboration tool . With Visme’s tool, the SmartBox Dental content team fostered teamwork, accountability and effective supervision.

Visme also achieved a versatile case study by including relevant quotes to showcase each tool or feature. Take a look at some examples;

Visme’s collaboration tool: “We really like the collaboration tool. Being able to see what a co-worker is working on and borrow their ideas or collaborate on a project to make sure we get the best end result really helps us out.”

Visme’s library of stock photos and animated characters: “I really love the images and the look those give to an infographic. I also really like the animated little guys and the animated pictures. That’s added a lot of fun to our designs.”

Visme’s interactivity feature: “You can add URLs and phone number links directly into the infographic so they can just click and call or go to another page on the website and I really like adding those hyperlinks in.”

You can ask your customers to talk about the different products or features that helped them achieve their business success and draw quotes from each one.

10. Jasper Grows Blog Organic Sessions 810% and Blog-Attributed User Signups 400X

Jasper, an AI writing tool, lacked a scalable content strategy to drive organic traffic and user growth. They needed help creating content that converted visitors into users. Especially when a looming domain migration threatened organic traffic.

To address these challenges, Jasper partnered with Omniscient Digital. Their goal was to turn their content into a growth channel and drive organic growth. Omniscient Digital developed a full content strategy for Jasper AI, which included a content audit, competitive analysis, and keyword discovery.

Through their collaboration, Jasper’s organic blog sessions increased by 810%, despite the domain migration. They also witnessed a 400X increase in blog-attributed signups. And more importantly, the content program contributed to over $4 million in annual recurring revenue.

The combination of storytelling and video testimonials within the case study example makes this a real winner. But there’s a twist to it. Omniscient segmented the video testimonials and placed them in different sections of the case study.

Video marketing , especially in case studies, works wonders. Research shows us that 42% of people prefer video testimonials because they show real customers with real success stories. So if you haven't thought of it before, incorporate video testimonials into your case study.

Take a look at this stunning video testimonial template. With its simple design, you can input the picture, name and quote of your customer within your case study in a fun and engaging way.

Try it yourself! Customize this template with your customer’s testimonial and add it to your case study!

Satisfied Client Testimonial Ad Square

11. How Meliá Became One of the Most Influential Hotel Chains on Social Media

Case Study Examples

Meliá Hotels needed help managing their growing social media customer service needs. Despite having over 500 social accounts, they lacked a unified response protocol and detailed reporting. This largely hindered efficiency and brand consistency.

Meliá partnered with Hootsuite to build an in-house social customer care team. Implementing Hootsuite's tools enabled Meliá to decrease response times from 24 hours to 12.4 hours while also leveraging smart automation.

In addition to that, Meliá resolved over 133,000 conversations, booking 330 inquiries per week through Hootsuite Inbox. They significantly improved brand consistency, response time and customer satisfaction.

The need for a good case study design cannot be over-emphasized.

As soon as anyone lands on this case study example, they are mesmerized by a beautiful case study design. This alone raises the interest of readers and keeps them engaged till the end.

If you’re currently saying to yourself, “ I can write great case studies, but I don’t have the time or skill to turn it into a beautiful document.” Say no more.

Visme’s amazing AI document generator can take your text and transform it into a stunning and professional document in minutes! Not only do you save time, but you also get inspired by the design.

With Visme’s document generator, you can create PDFs, case study presentations , infographics and more!

Take a look at this case study template below. Just like our case study example, it captures readers' attention with its beautiful design. Its dynamic blend of colors and fonts helps to segment each element of the case study beautifully.

Patagonia Case Study

12. Tea’s Me Cafe: Tamika Catchings is Brewing Glory

Case Study Examples

Tamika's journey began when she purchased Tea's Me Cafe in 2017, saving it from closure. She recognized the potential of the cafe as a community hub and hosted regular events centered on social issues and youth empowerment.

One of Tamika’s business goals was to automate her business. She sought to streamline business processes across various aspects of her business. One of the ways she achieves this goal is through Constant Contact.

Constant Contact became an integral part of Tamika's marketing strategy. They provided an automated and centralized platform for managing email newsletters, event registrations, social media scheduling and more.

This allowed Tamika and her team to collaborate efficiently and focus on engaging with their audience. They effectively utilized features like WooCommerce integration, text-to-join and the survey builder to grow their email list, segment their audience and gather valuable feedback.

The case study example utilizes the power of storytelling to form a connection with readers. Constant Contact takes a humble approach in this case study. They spotlight their customers' efforts as the reason for their achievements and growth, establishing trust and credibility.

This case study is also visually appealing, filled with high-quality photos of their customer. While this is a great way to foster originality, it can prove challenging if your customer sends you blurry or low-quality photos.

If you find yourself in that dilemma, you can use Visme’s AI image edit tool to touch up your photos. With Visme’s AI tool, you can remove unwanted backgrounds, erase unwanted objects, unblur low-quality pictures and upscale any photo without losing the quality.

Constant Contact offers its readers various formats to engage with their case study. Including an audio podcast and PDF.

In its PDF version, Constant Contact utilized its brand colors to create a stunning case study design.  With this, they increase brand awareness and, in turn, brand recognition with anyone who comes across their case study.

With Visme’s brand wizard tool , you can seamlessly incorporate your brand assets into any design or document you create. By inputting your URL, Visme’s AI integration will take note of your brand colors, brand fonts and more and create branded templates for you automatically.

You don't need to worry about spending hours customizing templates to fit your brand anymore. You can focus on writing amazing case studies that promote your company.

13. How Breakwater Kitchens Achieved a 7% Growth in Sales With Thryv

Case Study Examples

Breakwater Kitchens struggled with managing their business operations efficiently. They spent a lot of time on manual tasks, such as scheduling appointments and managing client communication. This made it difficult for them to grow their business and provide the best possible service to their customers.

David, the owner, discovered Thryv. With Thryv, Breakwater Kitchens was able to automate many of their manual tasks. Additionally, Thryv integrated social media management. This enabled Breakwater Kitchens to deliver a consistent brand message, captivate its audience and foster online growth.

As a result, Breakwater Kitchens achieved increased efficiency, reduced missed appointments and a 7% growth in sales.

This case study example uses a concise format and strong verbs, which make it easy for readers to absorb the information.

At the top of the case study, Thryv immediately builds trust by presenting their customer's complete profile, including their name, company details and website. This allows potential customers to verify the case study's legitimacy, making them more likely to believe in Thryv's services.

However, manually copying and pasting customer information across multiple pages of your case study can be time-consuming.

To save time and effort, you can utilize Visme's dynamic field feature . Dynamic fields automatically insert reusable information into your designs.  So you don’t have to type it out multiple times.

14. Zoom’s Creative Team Saves Over 4,000 Hours With Brandfolder

Case Study Examples

Zoom experienced rapid growth with the advent of remote work and the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such growth called for agility and resilience to scale through.

At the time, Zoom’s assets were disorganized which made retrieving brand information a burden. Zoom’s creative manager spent no less than 10 hours per week finding and retrieving brand assets for internal teams.

Zoom needed a more sustainable approach to organizing and retrieving brand information and came across Brandfolder. Brandfolder simplified and accelerated Zoom’s email localization and webpage development. It also enhanced the creation and storage of Zoom virtual backgrounds.

With Brandfolder, Zoom now saves 4,000+ hours every year. The company also centralized its assets in Brandfolder, which allowed 6,800+ employees and 20-30 vendors to quickly access them.

Brandfolder infused its case study with compelling data and backed it up with verifiable sources. This data-driven approach boosts credibility and increases the impact of their story.

Bradfolder's case study goes the extra mile by providing a downloadable PDF version, making it convenient for readers to access the information on their own time. Their dedication to crafting stunning visuals is evident in every aspect of the project.

From the vibrant colors to the seamless navigation, everything has been meticulously designed to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. And with clickable links that make exploring the content a breeze, the user experience is guaranteed to be nothing short of exceptional.

The thing is, your case study presentation won’t always sit on your website. There are instances where you may need to do a case study presentation for clients, partners or potential investors.

Visme has a rich library of templates you can tap into. But if you’re racing against the clock, Visme’s AI presentation maker is your best ally.

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15. How Cents of Style Made $1.7M+ in Affiliate Sales with LeadDyno

Case Study Examples

Cents of Style had a successful affiliate and influencer marketing strategy. However, their existing affiliate marketing platform was not intuitive, customizable or transparent enough to meet the needs of their influencers.

Cents of Styles needed an easy-to-use affiliate marketing platform that gave them more freedom to customize their program and implement a multi-tier commission program.

After exploring their options, Cents of Style decided on LeadDyno.

LeadDyno provided more flexibility, allowing them to customize commission rates and implement their multi-tier commission structure, switching from monthly to weekly payouts.

Also, integrations with PayPal made payments smoother And features like newsletters and leaderboards added to the platform's success by keeping things transparent and engaging.

As a result, Cents of Style witnessed an impressive $1.7 million in revenue from affiliate sales with a substantial increase in web sales by 80%.

LeadDyno strategically placed a compelling CTA in the middle of their case study layout, maximizing its impact. At this point, readers are already invested in the customer's story and may be considering implementing similar strategies.

A well-placed CTA offers them a direct path to learn more and take action.

LeadDyno also utilized the power of quotes to strengthen their case study. They didn't just embed these quotes seamlessly into the text; instead, they emphasized each one with distinct blocks.

Are you looking for an easier and quicker solution to create a case study and other business documents? Try Visme's AI designer ! This powerful tool allows you to generate complete documents, such as case studies, reports, whitepapers and more, just by providing text prompts. Simply explain your requirements to the tool, and it will produce the document for you, complete with text, images, design assets and more.

Still have more questions about case studies? Let's look at some frequently asked questions.

How to Write a Case Study?

  • Choose a compelling story: Not all case studies are created equal. Pick one that is relevant to your target audience and demonstrates the specific benefits of your product or service.
  • Outline your case study: Create a case study outline and highlight how you will structure your case study to include the introduction, problem, solution and achievements of your customer.
  • Choose a case study template: After you outline your case study, choose a case study template . Visme has stunning templates that can inspire your case study design.
  • Craft a compelling headline: Include figures or percentages that draw attention to your case study.
  • Work on the first draft: Your case study should be easy to read and understand. Use clear and concise language and avoid jargon.
  • Include high-quality visual aids: Visuals can help to make your case study more engaging and easier to read. Consider adding high-quality photos, screenshots or videos.
  • Include a relevant CTA: Tell prospective customers how to reach you for questions or sign-ups.

What Are the Stages of a Case Study?

The stages of a case study are;

  • Planning & Preparation: Highlight your goals for writing the case study. Plan the case study format, length and audience you wish to target.
  • Interview the Client: Reach out to the company you want to showcase and ask relevant questions about their journey and achievements.
  • Revision & Editing: Review your case study and ask for feedback. Include relevant quotes and CTAs to your case study.
  • Publication & Distribution: Publish and share your case study on your website, social media channels and email list!
  • Marketing & Repurposing: Turn your case study into a podcast, PDF, case study presentation and more. Share these materials with your sales and marketing team.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Case Study?

Advantages of a case study:

  • Case studies showcase a specific solution and outcome for specific customer challenges.
  • It attracts potential customers with similar challenges.
  • It builds trust and credibility with potential customers.
  • It provides an in-depth analysis of your company’s problem-solving process.

Disadvantages of a case study:

  • Limited applicability. Case studies are tailored to specific cases and may not apply to other businesses.
  • It relies heavily on customer cooperation and willingness to share information.
  • It stands a risk of becoming outdated as industries and customer needs evolve.

What Are the Types of Case Studies?

There are 7 main types of case studies. They include;

  • Illustrative case study.
  • Instrumental case study.
  • Intrinsic case study.
  • Descriptive case study.
  • Explanatory case study.
  • Exploratory case study.
  • Collective case study.

How Long Should a Case Study Be?

The ideal length of your case study is between 500 - 1500 words or 1-3 pages. Certain factors like your target audience, goal or the amount of detail you want to share may influence the length of your case study. This infographic has powerful tips for designing winning case studies

What Is the Difference Between a Case Study and an Example?

Case studies provide a detailed narrative of how your product or service was used to solve a problem. Examples are general illustrations and are not necessarily real-life scenarios.

Case studies are often used for marketing purposes, attracting potential customers and building trust. Examples, on the other hand, are primarily used to simplify or clarify complex concepts.

Where Can I Find Case Study Examples?

You can easily find many case study examples online and in industry publications. Many companies, including Visme, share case studies on their websites to showcase how their products or services have helped clients achieve success. You can also search online libraries and professional organizations for case studies related to your specific industry or field.

If you need professionally-designed, customizable case study templates to create your own, Visme's template library is one of the best places to look. These templates include all the essential sections of a case study and high-quality content to help you create case studies that position your business as an industry leader.

Get More Out Of Your Case Studies With Visme

Case studies are an essential tool for converting potential customers into paying customers. By following the tips in this article, you can create compelling case studies that will help you build trust, establish credibility and drive sales.

Visme can help you create stunning case studies and other relevant marketing materials. With our easy-to-use platform, interactive features and analytics tools , you can increase your content creation game in no time.

There is no limit to what you can achieve with Visme. Connect with Sales to discover how Visme can boost your business goals.

Easily create beautiful case studies and more with Visme

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How to Write a Case Study: Step-by-Step Guide with Examples

  • October 7, 2022

Picture of Written by Alexandra

Content Manager at SocialBee

Why is learning how to write a case study so important?

Well, because it provides your customers with social proof and supporting evidence of how effective your products and services are. Moreover, it eliminates the doubt that usually makes clients give up on their next purchase.

That is why today we are going to talk about the step-by-step process of writing a case study . We prepared five business case study examples guaranteed to inspire you throughout the process.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a piece of content that focuses on a case from your business history. It describes the problems your client faced and the solutions you used to help them succeed.

The goal of a writing case study is to promote your business , so your aim should be to put together a compelling story with evidence that backs up all your claims.

Case studies use real-life examples to show your clients the quality and effectiveness of your products and services. It’s a marketing tool that provides credibility and it helps your potential clients gain confidence in your brand.

Case studies can be structured in different formats:

  • A written document
  • An infographic
  • A blog post
  • A landing page

Case Study Benefits

A great case study makes your potential customers want to benefit from the products and services that helped your client overcome their challenges. 

Here are the benefits of writing a case study:

  • It is an affordable marketing practice
  • It decreases the perceived risk of your potential clients
  • It provides transparency
  • It builds trust and credibility among prospective customers
  • It makes your potential clients relate to the problem
  • It provides your potential clients with a solution for their problems

How to Write a Case Study

Now that you know what a case study is, let’s get into the real reason why you are here — learning how to write an in-depth study.

Here is the step-by-step process of writing a case study:

  • Identify the topic of your case study
  • Start collaborating with a client
  • Prepare questions for the interview
  • Conduct the case study interview
  • Structure your case study 
  • Make it visual

Step 1: Identify the Topic of Your Case Study

A case study starts with a strategy. Choosing what you want to write about should be closely related to your business needs. More specifically, what service or product do you want to promote through your case study?

Because case studies focus on client challenges, business solutions, and results, you have to carefully pick the case that your potential clients will relate to the most. 

To communicate the benefits of your business, you should focus on a customer story that appeals to a specific segment of your audience . Consequently, you will target clients that relate to your customer example while providing a solution for their needs and pain points — your products and services.

Start by focusing all your research methods on identifying your customers’ main pain points. Then find examples of how your products or services have helped them overcome their challenges and achieve their goals .

Furthermore, to make sure you choose the best case study topic for your buyer persona , you should have a meeting with your sales/customer service team. Because they are in close contact with your customers, they will be able to tell you:

  • The main challenges your clients face 
  • The services/products that bring them the best results 

These are the main two pieces of information you want your case study to focus on.

Step 2: Start Collaborating with a Client

With a clear topic in mind, you have to find the best fit for your case study. 

However, that is not all. First, you must obtain the client’s permission. After all, your business story is theirs too.

So, craft an email to provide your client with an overview of the case study. This will help them make a decision. 

Your message should include:

  • The case study format (video, written, etc.) and where it will be published (blog, landing page , etc.)
  • The topic of the document
  • The timeline of the process
  • The information that will be included
  • The benefits they get as a result of this collaboration (brand exposure, backlinks)

Additionally, you can offer to schedule a call or a meeting to answer all their questions and curiosities and provide a means for clear and open communication.

Once you receive a positive response from your client, you can continue with the next step of the process: the actual interview.

PRO TIP: A great way to ensure a smooth and safe collaboration between you and your client is to sign a legal release form before writing the case study. This will allow you to use their information and protect you from issues that may occur in the future. Moreover, if the client is not comfortable with revealing their identity, you can always offer them anonymity.

Step 3: Prepare Questions for the Interview

Now that you have the subject for your case study, it’s time to write and organize your interview in several sets of questions.

Don’t forget that the whole structure of your case study is based on the information you get from your customer interview.

So pay attention to the way you phrase the questions. After all, your goal is to gather all the data you need to avoid creating a back-and-forth process that will consume your client’s time and energy.

To help you create the best questionnaire, we created a set of case study questions and organized them into different categories. 

Here are the five main sections your case study interview should contain:

  • The client’s background information
  • The problem
  • The start of the collaboration
  • The solution
  • The results

A. The Client’s Background Information

This part of the case study interview must give a comprehensive look into your customer’s business and allow your readers to get to know them better.

Here are some question ideas:

B. The Problem

Now it’s time to get into the reason your client came to you for assistance, the initial challenge that triggered your collaboration.

In this part of the interview process, you want to find out what made them ask for help and what was their situation before working with you.

You can ask your client the following case study questions:

C. The Start of the Collaboration

This part of the case study interview will focus on the process that made your collaboration possible. More specifically, how did your client research possible collaboration opportunities, and why they chose your business? 

This information will not only be informative for your future customers but will also give you a behind-the-scenes look into their decision-making process.

D. The Solution

It’s time to get into one of the most significant parts of the case study interview — the solution. Here you should discuss how your services have helped their business recover from the problems mentioned before.

Make sure you ask the right questions so you can really paint the picture of a satisfied customer.

Have a look at these question examples:

E. The Results

The best proof you can give to your customers is through your results. And this is the perfect opportunity to let your actions speak for themselves.

Unlike the other marketing strategies you use to promote your business, the content is provided by your customer, not by your team. As a result, you end up with a project that is on another level of reliability.

Here is how you can ask your client about their results:

Step 4: Conduct the Case Study Interview

Now that you have a great set of case study questions, it’s time to put them to good use.

Decide on the type of interview you want to conduct: face-to-face, video call , or phone call. Then, consult with your client and set up a date and a time when you are both available. 

It should be noted that during the interview it’s best to use a recording device for accuracy. Maybe you don’t have time to write down all the information, and you forget important details. Or maybe you want to be focused more on the conversational aspect of the interview, and you don’t want to write anything down while it’s happening.

Step 5: Structure Your Case Study 

The hard part is over. Now it’s time to organize all the information you gathered in an appealing format. Let’s have a look at what your case study should contain.

Here are the components of a case study:

  • Engaging title
  • Executive summary
  • Client description 
  • Introduction to the problem
  • The problem-solving process
  • Progress and results

A. Engaging Title

Putting that much work into a project, it would be a shame not to do your best to attract more readers. So, take into consideration that you only have a few seconds to catch your audience’s attention. 

You can also use a headline analyzer to evaluate the performance of your title.

The best case study titles contain:

  • Relevant keywords
  • Customer pain points
  • Clear result

Case study example :

case study what are

B. Executive Summary

Your executive summary should include a thesis statement that sums up the main points of your case study. Therefore, it must be clear and concise. Moreover, to make your audience curious, you can add a statistic or a relevant piece of data that they might be interested in.

Here is what you should include in your executive summary:

  • The business you are writing about (only if the clients wants to make themselves known)
  • Relevant statistics

case study what are

C. Client Description 

Here is where you start to include the information you gained from your interview. Provide your readers with a clear picture of your client and create a context for your case study.

Take your client’s answers from the “Client Background” section of the interview and present them in a more appealing format.

case study what are

D. Introduction to the Problem

In this section, use your client’s interview answers to write about the problem they were experiencing before working with you.

Remember to be specific because you want your audience to fully understand the situation and relate to it. At the end of the day, the goal of the case study is to show your potential customers why they should buy your services/products.

case study what are

E. The Problem-Solving Process

Next, explain how your service/product helped your client overcome their problems. Moreover, let your readers know how and why your service/product worked in their case.

In this part of the case study, you should summarize: 

  • The strategy used to solve the problem of your customer 
  • The process of implementing the solution 

case study what are

F. Progress and Results

Tell your readers about what you and your client have achieved during your collaboration. Here you can include:

  • Graphics about your progress
  • Business objectives they have achieved
  • Relevant metrics 

case study what are

Step 6: Make It Visual

To elevate the information you have written for your audience, you must make sure it’s appealing and easy to read. And a great way to achieve that is to use visuals that add value to your case study.

Here are some design elements that will make emphasize your text:

  • Graphic symbols that guide the eye (arrows, bullet points, checkmarks, etc.)
  • Charts, graphics, tables 
  • Relevant screenshots from business reports
  • The colors and fonts of your brand
  • Your client’s logo

Platforms like Canva can really come in handy while designing your case study. It’s easy to use and it has multiple free slide templates and graphics that save you time and money.

PRO TIP: Share Your Case Study Across All Marketing Channels

A case study is a perfect example of evergreen content that can be reshared endlessly on your social media channels .

Aside from helping you maintain a consistent posting schedule with ease, case study-related posts will increase your credibility and push leads toward the bottom of your marketing funnel . Other examples of social proof evergreen content are reviews, testimonials, and positive social media mentions.

To keep track of all your evergreen posts and have them scheduled on a continuous loop, use a social media tool like SocialBee.

SocialBee post resharing and expiration features

Create evergreen content categories where all your posts get reposted regularly on your social media channels. 

Start your 14-day trial today and start using SocialBee for free!

Aside from promoting your case study on social media, you can also feature it in your newsletter that you can create using email newsletter software , include it as a pop-up on your website, and even create a separate landing page dedicated to your customer study.

SocialBee blog CTA box visual with the supported platforms

Share Your Case Study on Social Media with SocialBee!

Get to writing your own case study.

What do you think? Is writing a case study easier than you thought? We sure hope so.

Learning how to write a case study is a simple process once you understand the logical steps that go into it. So make sure you go over the guide a couple of times before you start documenting your customer success stories.

And remember that the goal of your case study is to attract more leads . Therefore you need to include tangible results and valuable details that will compel your audience to invest in your products and services.

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What Is a Case Study and Why You Should Use Them

Case studies can provide more insights into your business while helping you conduct further research with robust qualitative data analysis to learn more.

If you're in charge of running a company, then you're likely always looking for new ways to run your business more efficiently and increase your customer base while streamlining as many processes as possible.

Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to determine how to go about implementing the proper program in order to be successful. This is why many business owners opt to conduct a case study, which can help significantly. Whether you've been struggling with brand consistency or some other problem, the right case study can identify why your problem exists as well as provide a way to rectify it.

A case study is a great tool that many businesses aren't even aware exists, and there are marketing experts like Mailchimp who can provide you with step-by-step assistance with implementing a plan with a case study. Many companies discover that not only do they need to start a blog in order to improve business, but they also need to create specific and relevant blog titles.

If your company already has a blog, then optimizing your blog posts may be helpful. Regardless of the obstacles that are preventing you from achieving all your professional goals, a case study can work wonders in helping you reverse this issue.

case study what are

What is a case study?

A case study is a comprehensive report of the results of theory testing or examining emerging themes of a business in real life context. Case studies are also often used in the healthcare industry, conducting health services research with primary research interest around routinely collected healthcare data.

However, for businesses, the purpose of a case study is to help small business owners or company leaders identify the issues and conduct further research into what may be preventing success through information collection, client or customer interviews, and in-depth data analysis.

Knowing the case study definition is crucial for any business owner. By identifying the issues that are hindering a company from achieving all its goals, it's easier to make the necessary corrections to promote success through influenced data collection.

Why are case studies important?

Now that we've answered the questions, "what is a case study?" Why are case studies important? Some of the top reasons why case studies are important include:

 Importance of case studies

  • Understand complex issues: Even after you conduct a significant amount of market research , you might have a difficult time understanding exactly what it means. While you might have the basics down, conducting a case study can help you see how that information is applied. Then, when you see how the information can make a difference in business decisions, it could make it easier to understand complex issues.
  • Collect data: A case study can also help with data tracking . A case study is a data collection method that can help you describe the information that you have available to you. Then, you can present that information in a way the reader can understand.
  • Conduct evaluations: As you learn more about how to write a case study, remember that you can also use a case study to conduct evaluations of a specific situation. A case study is a great way to learn more about complex situations, and you can evaluate how various people responded in that situation. By conducting a case study evaluation, you can learn more about what has worked well, what has not, and what you might want to change in the future.
  • Identify potential solutions: A case study can also help you identify solutions to potential problems. If you have an issue in your business that you are trying to solve, you may be able to take a look at a case study where someone has dealt with a similar situation in the past. For example, you may uncover data bias in a specific solution that you would like to address when you tackle the issue on your own. If you need help solving a difficult problem, a case study may be able to help you.

Remember that you can also use case studies to target your audience . If you want to show your audience that you have a significant level of expertise in a field, you may want to publish some case studies that you have handled in the past. Then, when your audience sees that you have had success in a specific area, they may be more likely to provide you with their business. In essence, case studies can be looked at as the original method of social proof, showcasing exactly how you can help someone solve their problems.

What are the benefits of writing a business case study?

Although writing a case study can seem like a tedious task, there are many benefits to conducting one through an in depth qualitative research process.

Benefits of Case Studies

  • Industry understanding: First of all, a case study can give you an in-depth understanding of your industry through a particular conceptual framework and help you identify hidden problems that are preventing you from transcending into the business world.
  • Develop theories: If you decide to write a business case study, it provides you with an opportunity to develop new theories. You might have a theory about how to solve a specific problem, but you need to write a business case study to see exactly how that theory has unfolded in the past. Then, you can figure out if you want to apply your theory to a similar issue in the future.
  • Evaluate interventions: When you write a business case study that focuses on a specific situation you have been through in the past, you can uncover whether that intervention was truly helpful. This can make it easier to figure out whether you want to use the same intervention in a similar situation in the future.
  • Identify best practices: If you want to stay on top of the best practices in your field, conducting case studies can help by allowing you to identify patterns and trends and develop a new list of best practices that you can follow in the future.
  • Versatility: Writing a case study also provides you with more versatility. If you want to expand your business applications, you need to figure out how you respond to various problems. When you run a business case study, you open the door to new opportunities, new applications, and new techniques that could help you make a difference in your business down the road.
  • Solve problems: Writing a great case study can dramatically improve your chances of reversing your problem and improving your business.
  • These are just a few of the biggest benefits you might experience if you decide to publish your case studies. They can be an effective tool for learning, showcasing your talents, and teaching some of your other employees. If you want to grow your audience , you may want to consider publishing some case studies.

What are the limitations of case studies?

Case studies can be a wonderful tool for any business of any size to use to gain an in-depth understanding of their clients, products, customers, or services, but there are limitations.

One limitation of case studies is the fact that, unless there are other recently published examples, there is nothing to compare them to since, most of the time, you are conducting a single, not multiple, case studies.

Another limitation is the fact that most case studies can lack scientific evidence.

case study what are

Types of case studies

There are specific types of case studies to choose from, and each specific type will yield different results. Some case study types even overlap, which is sometimes more favorable, as they provide even more pertinent data.

Here are overviews of the different types of case studies, each with its own theoretical framework, so you can determine which type would be most effective for helping you meet your goals.

Explanatory case studies

Explanatory case studies are pretty straightforward, as they're not difficult to interpret. This type of case study is best if there aren't many variables involved because explanatory case studies can easily answer questions like "how" and "why" through theory development.

Exploratory case studies

An exploratory case study does exactly what its name implies: it goes into specific detail about the topic at hand in a natural, real-life context with qualitative research.

The benefits of exploratory case studies are limitless, with the main one being that it offers a great deal of flexibility. Having flexibility when writing a case study is important because you can't always predict what obstacles might arise during the qualitative research process.

Collective case studies

Collective case studies require you to study many different individuals in order to obtain usable data.

Case studies that involve an investigation of people will involve many different variables, all of which can't be predicted. Despite this fact, there are many benefits of collective case studies, including the fact that it allows an ongoing analysis of the data collected.

Intrinsic case studies

This type of study differs from the others as it focuses on the inquiry of one specific instance among many possibilities.

Many people prefer these types of case studies because it allows them to learn about the particular instance that they wish to investigate further.

Instrumental case studies

An instrumental case study is similar to an intrinsic one, as it focuses on a particular instance, whether it's a person, organization, or something different.

One thing that differentiates instrumental case studies from intrinsic ones is the fact that instrumental case studies aren't chosen merely because a person is interested in learning about a specific instance.

case study what are

Tips for writing a case study

If you have decided to write case studies for your company, then you may be unsure of where to start or which type to conduct.

However, it doesn't have to be difficult or confusing to begin conducting a case study that will help you identify ways to improve your business.

Here are some helpful tips for writing your case studies:

1. Your case study must be written in the proper format

When writing a case study, the format that you should be similar to this:

Case study format

Administrative summary

The executive summary is an overview of what your report will contain, written in a concise manner while providing real-life context.

Despite the fact that the executive summary should appear at the beginning of your case studies, it shouldn't be written until you've completed the entire report because if you write it before you finish the report, this summary may not be completely accurate.

Key problem statement

In this section of your case study, you will briefly describe the problem that you hope to solve by conducting the study. You will have the opportunity to elaborate on the problem that you're focusing on as you get into the breadth of the report.

Problem exploration

This part of the case study isn't as brief as the other two, and it goes into more detail about the problem at hand. Your problem exploration must include why the identified problem needs to be solved as well as the urgency of solving it.

Additionally, it must include justification for conducting the problem-solving, as the benefits must outweigh the efforts and costs.

Proposed resolution

This case study section will also be lengthier than the first two. It must include how you propose going about rectifying the problem. The "recommended solution" section must also include potential obstacles that you might experience, as well as how these will be managed.

Furthermore, you will need to list alternative solutions and explain the reason the chosen solution is best. Charts can enhance your report and make it easier to read, and provide as much proof to substantiate your claim as possible.

Overview of monetary consideration

An overview of monetary consideration is essential for all case studies, as it will be used to convince all involved parties why your project should be funded. You must successfully convince them that the cost is worth the investment it will require. It's important that you stress the necessity for this particular case study and explain the expected outcome.

Execution timeline

In the execution times of case studies, you explain how long you predict it will take to implement your study. The shorter the time it will take to implement your plan, the more apt it is to be approved. However, be sure to provide a reasonable timeline, taking into consideration any additional time that might be needed due to obstacles.

Always include a conclusion in your case study. This is where you will briefly wrap up your entire proposal, stressing the benefits of completing the data collection and data analysis in order to rectify your problem.

2. Make it clear and comprehensive

You want to write your case studies with as much clarity as possible so that every aspect of the report is understood. Be sure to double-check your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and more, as you don't want to submit a poorly-written document.

Not only would a poorly-written case study fail to prove that what you are trying to achieve is important, but it would also increase the chances that your report will be tossed aside and not taken seriously.

3. Don't rush through the process

Writing the perfect case study takes time and patience. Rushing could result in your forgetting to include information that is crucial to your entire study. Don't waste your time creating a study that simply isn't ready. Take the necessary time to perform all the research necessary to write the best case study possible.

Depending on the case study, conducting case study research could mean using qualitative methods, quantitative methods, or both. Qualitative research questions focus on non-numerical data, such as how people feel, their beliefs, their experiences, and so on.

Meanwhile, quantitative research questions focus on numerical or statistical data collection to explain causal links or get an in-depth picture.

It is also important to collect insightful and constructive feedback. This will help you better understand the outcome as well as any changes you need to make to future case studies. Consider using formal and informal ways to collect feedback to ensure that you get a range of opinions and perspectives.

4. Be confident in your theory development

While writing your case study or conducting your formal experimental investigation, you should have confidence in yourself and what you're proposing in your report. If you took the time to gather all the pertinent data collected to complete the report, don't second-guess yourself or doubt your abilities. If you believe your report will be amazing, then it likely will be.

5. Case studies and all qualitative research are long

It's expected that multiple case studies are going to be incredibly boring, and there is no way around this. However, it doesn't mean you can choose your language carefully in order to keep your audience as engaged as possible.

If your audience loses interest in your case study at the beginning, for whatever reason, then this increases the likelihood that your case study will not be funded.

Case study examples

If you want to learn more about how to write a case study, it might be beneficial to take a look at a few case study examples. Below are a few interesting case study examples you may want to take a closer look at.

  • Phineas Gage by John Martin Marlow : One of the most famous case studies comes from the medical field, and it is about the story of Phineas Gage, a man who had a railroad spike driven through his head in 1848. As he was working on a railroad, an explosive charge went off prematurely, sending a railroad rod through his head. Even though he survived this incident, he lost his left eye. However, Phineas Gage was studied extensively over the years because his experiences had a significant, lasting impact on his personality. This served as a case study because his injury showed different parts of the brain have different functions.
  • Kitty Genovese and the bystander effect : This is a tragic case study that discusses the murder of Kitty Genovese, a woman attacked and murdered in Queens, New York City. Shockingly, while numerous neighbors watched the scene, nobody called for help because they assumed someone else would. This case study helped to define the bystander effect, which is when a person fails to intervene during an emergency because other people are around.
  • Henry Molaison and the study of memory : Henry Molaison lost his memory and suffered from debilitating amnesia. He suffered from childhood epilepsy, and medical professionals attempted to remove the part of his brain that was causing his seizures. He had a portion of his brain removed, but it completely took away his ability to hold memories. Even though he went on to live until the age of 82, he was always forced to live in the present moment, as he was completely unable to form new memories.

Case study FAQs

When should you do a case study.

There are several scenarios when conducting a case study can be beneficial. Case studies are often used when there's a "why" or "how" question that needs to be answered. Case studies are also beneficial when trying to understand a complex phenomenon, there's limited research on a topic, or when you're looking for practical solutions to a problem.

How can case study results be used to make business decisions?

You can use the results from a case study to make future business decisions if you find yourself in a similar situation. As you assess the results of a case study, you can identify best practices, evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention, generate new and creative ideas, or get a better understanding of customer needs.

How are case studies different from other research methodologies?

When compared to other research methodologies, such as experimental or qualitative research methodology, a case study does not require a representative sample. For example, if you are performing quantitative research, you have a lot of subjects that expand your sample size. If you are performing experimental research, you may have a random sample in front of you. A case study is usually designed to deliberately focus on unusual situations, which allows it to shed new light on a specific business research problem.

Writing multiple case studies for your business

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the idea of writing a case study and it seems completely foreign, then you aren't alone. Writing a case study for a business is a very big deal, but fortunately, there is help available because an example of a case study doesn't always help.

Mailchimp, a well-known marketing company that provides comprehensive marketing support for all sorts of businesses, can assist you with your case study, or you can review one of their own recently published examples.

Mailchimp can assist you with developing the most effective content strategy to increase your chances of being as successful as possible. Mailchimp's content studio is a great tool that can help your business immensely.

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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}

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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.

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5 Benefits of Learning Through the Case Study Method

Harvard Business School MBA students learning through the case study method

  • 28 Nov 2023

While several factors make HBS Online unique —including a global Community and real-world outcomes —active learning through the case study method rises to the top.

In a 2023 City Square Associates survey, 74 percent of HBS Online learners who also took a course from another provider said HBS Online’s case method and real-world examples were better by comparison.

Here’s a primer on the case method, five benefits you could gain, and how to experience it for yourself.

Access your free e-book today.

What Is the Harvard Business School Case Study Method?

The case study method , or case method , is a learning technique in which you’re presented with a real-world business challenge and asked how you’d solve it. After working through it yourself and with peers, you’re told how the scenario played out.

HBS pioneered the case method in 1922. Shortly before, in 1921, the first case was written.

“How do you go into an ambiguous situation and get to the bottom of it?” says HBS Professor Jan Rivkin, former senior associate dean and chair of HBS's master of business administration (MBA) program, in a video about the case method . “That skill—the skill of figuring out a course of inquiry to choose a course of action—that skill is as relevant today as it was in 1921.”

Originally developed for the in-person MBA classroom, HBS Online adapted the case method into an engaging, interactive online learning experience in 2014.

In HBS Online courses , you learn about each case from the business professional who experienced it. After reviewing their videos, you’re prompted to take their perspective and explain how you’d handle their situation.

You then get to read peers’ responses, “star” them, and comment to further the discussion. Afterward, you learn how the professional handled it and their key takeaways.

HBS Online’s adaptation of the case method incorporates the famed HBS “cold call,” in which you’re called on at random to make a decision without time to prepare.

“Learning came to life!” said Sheneka Balogun , chief administration officer and chief of staff at LeMoyne-Owen College, of her experience taking the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program . “The videos from the professors, the interactive cold calls where you were randomly selected to participate, and the case studies that enhanced and often captured the essence of objectives and learning goals were all embedded in each module. This made learning fun, engaging, and student-friendly.”

If you’re considering taking a course that leverages the case study method, here are five benefits you could experience.

5 Benefits of Learning Through Case Studies

1. take new perspectives.

The case method prompts you to consider a scenario from another person’s perspective. To work through the situation and come up with a solution, you must consider their circumstances, limitations, risk tolerance, stakeholders, resources, and potential consequences to assess how to respond.

Taking on new perspectives not only can help you navigate your own challenges but also others’. Putting yourself in someone else’s situation to understand their motivations and needs can go a long way when collaborating with stakeholders.

2. Hone Your Decision-Making Skills

Another skill you can build is the ability to make decisions effectively . The case study method forces you to use limited information to decide how to handle a problem—just like in the real world.

Throughout your career, you’ll need to make difficult decisions with incomplete or imperfect information—and sometimes, you won’t feel qualified to do so. Learning through the case method allows you to practice this skill in a low-stakes environment. When facing a real challenge, you’ll be better prepared to think quickly, collaborate with others, and present and defend your solution.

3. Become More Open-Minded

As you collaborate with peers on responses, it becomes clear that not everyone solves problems the same way. Exposing yourself to various approaches and perspectives can help you become a more open-minded professional.

When you’re part of a diverse group of learners from around the world, your experiences, cultures, and backgrounds contribute to a range of opinions on each case.

On the HBS Online course platform, you’re prompted to view and comment on others’ responses, and discussion is encouraged. This practice of considering others’ perspectives can make you more receptive in your career.

“You’d be surprised at how much you can learn from your peers,” said Ratnaditya Jonnalagadda , a software engineer who took CORe.

In addition to interacting with peers in the course platform, Jonnalagadda was part of the HBS Online Community , where he networked with other professionals and continued discussions sparked by course content.

“You get to understand your peers better, and students share examples of businesses implementing a concept from a module you just learned,” Jonnalagadda said. “It’s a very good way to cement the concepts in one's mind.”

4. Enhance Your Curiosity

One byproduct of taking on different perspectives is that it enables you to picture yourself in various roles, industries, and business functions.

“Each case offers an opportunity for students to see what resonates with them, what excites them, what bores them, which role they could imagine inhabiting in their careers,” says former HBS Dean Nitin Nohria in the Harvard Business Review . “Cases stimulate curiosity about the range of opportunities in the world and the many ways that students can make a difference as leaders.”

Through the case method, you can “try on” roles you may not have considered and feel more prepared to change or advance your career .

5. Build Your Self-Confidence

Finally, learning through the case study method can build your confidence. Each time you assume a business leader’s perspective, aim to solve a new challenge, and express and defend your opinions and decisions to peers, you prepare to do the same in your career.

According to a 2022 City Square Associates survey , 84 percent of HBS Online learners report feeling more confident making business decisions after taking a course.

“Self-confidence is difficult to teach or coach, but the case study method seems to instill it in people,” Nohria says in the Harvard Business Review . “There may well be other ways of learning these meta-skills, such as the repeated experience gained through practice or guidance from a gifted coach. However, under the direction of a masterful teacher, the case method can engage students and help them develop powerful meta-skills like no other form of teaching.”

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If the case method seems like a good fit for your learning style, experience it for yourself by taking an HBS Online course. Offerings span seven subject areas, including:

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No matter which course or credential program you choose, you’ll examine case studies from real business professionals, work through their challenges alongside peers, and gain valuable insights to apply to your career.

Are you interested in discovering how HBS Online can help advance your career? Explore our course catalog and download our free guide —complete with interactive workbook sections—to determine if online learning is right for you and which course to take.

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  • Published: 10 July 2024

Assessing land-use changes and carbon storage: a case study of the Jialing River Basin, China

  • Shuai Yang 1 ,
  • Liqin Li 2 ,
  • Renhuan Zhu 3 , 4 ,
  • Chao Luo 5 ,
  • Xiong Lu 6 ,
  • Mili Sun 2 &
  • Benchuan Xu 7  

Scientific Reports volume  14 , Article number:  15984 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Environmental sciences

Land-use change is the main driver of carbon storage change in terrestrial ecosystems. Currently, domestic and international studies mainly focus on the impact of carbon storage changes on climate, while studies on the impact of land-use changes on carbon storage in complex terrestrial ecosystems are few. The Jialing River Basin (JRB), with a total area of ~ 160,000 km 2 , diverse topography, and elevation differences exceeding 5 km, is an ideal case for understanding the complex interactions between land-use change and carbon storage dynamics. Taking the JRB as our study area, we analyzed land-use changes from 2000 to 2020. Subsequently, we simulated land-use patterns for business-as-usual (BAU), cropland protection (CP), and ecological priority (EP) scenarios in 2035 using the PLUS model. Additionally, we assessed carbon storage using the InVEST model. This approach helps us to accurately understand the carbon change processes in regional complex terrestrial ecosystems and to formulate scientifically informed land-use policies. The results revealed the following: (1) Cropland was the most dominant land-use type (LUT) in the region, and it was the only LUT experiencing net reduction, with 92.22% of newly designated construction land originating from cropland. (2) In the JRB, total carbon storage steadily decreased after 2005, with significant spatial heterogeneity. This pattern was marked by higher carbon storage levels in the north and lower levels in the south, with a distinct demarcation line. The conversion of cropland to construction land is the main factor driving the reduction in carbon storage. (3) Compared with the BAU and EP scenarios, the CP scenario demonstrated a smaller reduction in cropland area, a smaller addition to construction land area, and a lower depletion in the JRB total carbon storage from 2020 to 2035. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of the PLUS and InVEST models in analyzing complex ecosystems and offers data support for quantitatively assessing regional ecosystem services. Strict adherence to the cropland replenishment task mandated by the Chinese government is crucial to increase cropland areas in the JRB and consequently enhance the carbon sequestration capacity of its ecosystem. Such efforts are vital for ensuring the food and ecological security of the JRB, particularly in the pursuit of the “dual-carbon” objective.

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Land, as the primary arena for human activities, has undergone drastic changes owing to accelerating socioeconomic development, urbanization processes, and natural transformations by human beings 1 , 2 . Land-use change forms the foundation of the study of carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems, as it directly impacts the original pattern, process, function, and structure of terrestrial ecosystems, thereby altering their carbon storage 3 , 4 . This directly affects climate change predictions, greenhouse gas emissions, and reduction efforts 4 . In the context of the overall spatial planning of the national territory, basins are open and composite systems and the basic unit of a complete ecosystem; moreover, the natural, economic, social, and cultural elements within basins are closely interconnected. Furthermore, basins are characterized by diverse natural landscapes, clear hierarchical structures, and holistic characteristics 2 . Taking a basin as a research area breaks traditional administrative boundaries. This approach allows for seeking optimal solutions for basin development that balance food production, ecology, environment, and other objectives, contributing to national ecological security construction 5 . Therefore, analyzing land-use changes in basins, predicting future land-use patterns, and quantitatively assessing ecosystem carbon storage are essential for achieving balanced development with multiple objectives in regions characterized by basins 6 .

Land-use simulation models are essential tools for studying future land-use dynamics. These models include quantitative models such as Markov 7 , linear prediction 8 , system dynamics 9 , gray prediction 10 models, and spatial models such as patch-generating land use simulation (PLUS) 11 , future land use simulation (FLUS) 12 , cellular automaton (CA) 7 , and conversion of land use and its effects at small regional extent (CLUE-S) 13 . The PLUS model compensates for the shortcomings of the CA and CLUE-S models by effectively identifying the driving factors of land-use change and capturing the evolutionary patterns of various patch types. The model enhances the roulette wheel competition process and adaptive inertia within the FLUS model. Moreover, the integrated random forest algorithm of the model can effectively handle spatial autocorrelation and multicollinearity among the driving factors 11 , 14 . Consequently, the PLUS model can more accurately simulate various future land use scenarios and is extensively utilized 11 , 15 . The Markov model is widely used to predict future land-use demand by calculating the conversion probability between different land-use types (LUTs) over time 16 , 17 , 18 . Among all carbon storage assessment methods, the ecosystem functional state assessment and analysis model represented by Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Service and Tradeoffs (InVEST) is highly regarded by scholars owing to the easy access to driving data, simple and convenient operation, high precision in quantitative assessment, and clear spatial representation of the assessment process and results 19 , 20 . The integration of PLUS, Markov, and InVEST models can enable the optimization of spatial layout, the quantitative structure of regional land-use, and the exploration of future carbon storage changing rules in terrestrial ecosystems.

The Jialing River Basin (JRB) connects the Guanzhong Plain urban agglomeration and the Lanxi urban agglomeration in the north and the Chengdu–Chongqing urban agglomeration in the south. It holds a crucial position in the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Silk Road Economic Belt. As one of China’s most important grain-producing regions, the JRB is densely cultivated. The JRB is an essential part of the ecological barrier, a significant water source region, and a key area for biodiversity protection in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in China. However, it is significantly affected by economic development and urbanization under the national macro-policy, leading to drastic land-use changes in the JRB. These changes bring about a series of challenges to food production and ecological security 21 , 22 , 23 . Carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems plays a crucial role as carbon sinks. However, changes in carbon storage are primarily influenced by LUT conversion. The carbon sequestration function of terrestrial complex ecosystems has been consistently strengthened through the regulation of LUT conversion, which will aid China in realizing its “dual-carbon” goals. Studying the JRB land-use changes and their impact on carbon storage is vital. Although there have been numerous studies on the effects of land-use/cover changes or human activities on hydrological conditions 24 , soil erosion 25 , biodiversity 26 , and environmental pollution 23 in the JRB, there is a lack of up-to-date studies on historical land-use or carbon storage changes and future land-use simulations or carbon storage assessments.

With the JRB as our research area, our objectives are as follows: (1) reveal the changing patterns of land use at the basin scale; (2) predict land-use status under business-as-usual (BAU), cropland protection (CP), and ecological priority (EP) scenarios in 2035 using the PLUS and Markov models; (3) assess carbon storage from 2000 to 2020 and in 2035 under different scenarios using the InVEST model; and (4) investigate carbon storage distribution and aggregation characteristics from 2000 to 2020 through global spatial autocorrelation analysis (Moran’s I), clustering and outlier analysis (Anselin Local Moran’s I), and cold-hotspot analysis (Getis-Ord G i *). This research aims to provide essential data support for achieving sustainable development in the JRB. Our study revealed that cropland, being the most prominent and the only LUT transferred out of the JRB, is in direct competition with construction land. To realize the coordinated ecological, social, and economic development of the JRB, it is imperative to implement CP policies, increase afforestation and grass-planting efforts, and strictly enforce urban development boundaries.

Materials and methods

The Jialing River is a primary tributary of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River on the left bank, with a total length of 1,345 km. Its water system has a dendritic shape, and most of it flows through the eastern part of the Sichuan Basin, eventually joining the Yangtze River at Chaotianmen in the Yuzhong District of Chongqing Municipality 25 , 27 . Covering a total area of ~ 160,000 km 2 , the JRB (longitude 102° 31′ 51″–109° 16′ 34″, latitude 29° 17′ 29″–34° 31′ 44″) constitutes ~ 9% of the Yangtze River Basin. It spans Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, and Chongqing (Fig.  1 ) 28 .

figure 1

Location and terrain of the study area.

The JRB is situated in the transition zone from the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau to China’s second-tier terrain, characterized by complex and varied topography. It encompasses the plateau region, mountainous region, hilly region, and basin region, displaying distinct geographic zoning characteristics. The JRB terrain tilts roughly from northwest to southeast, exhibiting a significant gradient change. The elevation difference across the entire JRB exceeds 5 km, resulting in dramatic topographical variations. The river course aligns with the terrain, leading to an elevation difference in the river of ~ 2.3 km and an average drop ratio of 2.05‰ 29 . The JRB traverses multiple climate zones, including the Tibetan Plateau, temperate monsoon, and subtropical monsoon regions. These climate zones exhibit distinct characteristics, with hot and rainy summers and warm and humid winters. The multi-year average daily maximum and minimum temperatures in the JRB are 19.4 °C and 4.3 °C, respectively 30 . Precipitation in the JRB follows a spatial distribution pattern that decreases from southeast to northwest. The multi-year average, maximum, and minimum precipitation levels are 935 mm, 1,283 mm, and 643 mm, respectively 28 , 29 .

Data sources

Land-use data and its driving factors.

The standard Chinese map with the approval number of GS(2024)0650 No. was obtained from the National Platform for Common GeoSpatial Information Services ( ). Data for the Jialing River, Yangtze River, and their respective basins were provided by the National Cryosphere Desert Data Center ( ). Land-use data were obtained from the Resource and Environment Science and Data Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences ( ). This dataset includes six primary land classes, such as cropland and forestland, and 24 secondary land classes, including paddy fields and dry land. Using ArcGIS 10.3 software, we cropped the data according to the vector range of the JRB and reclassified them into six LUTs: cropland, forestland, grassland, water, construction land, and unused land. Subsequently, we generated five land-use raster maps of the JRB for years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020. Drawing upon relevant studies 1 , 16 , 31 , 32 , we selected 19 driving factors encompassing both natural environmental and socioeconomic aspects. Among these, average annual temperature, average annual precipitation, total phosphorus, total potassium, total nitrogen, and soil organic matter were obtained from the National Tibetan Plateau Data Center ( ) and the National Earth System Science Data Center ( ). Digital elevation model (DEM) data were sourced from the Geospatial Data Cloud ( ), while slope data were calculated from the DEM data using ArcGIS 10.3 software. Gross domestic product, population density, and nighttime lighting data were retrieved from the Resource and Environment Science and Data Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences ( ). County (city and district) governmental location data were obtained from OpenStreetMap ( ), and data related to railways, Class I–IV roads, rivers, and settlements were acquired from the National Catalogue Service For Geographic Information ( ). Using ArcGIS 10.3 software, the projection coordinate system of the land-use data and data on the natural environment and socioeconomic factors were standardized to CGCS2000_GK_Zone_18. Subsequently, the data on roads, rivers, settlements, and county (city and district) governmental sites were subjected to Euclidean distance analysis. All data were converted into raster data (.tif) with a spatial resolution of 30 m × 30 m.

Carbon density data

According to the methodologies outlined by Li et al. 33 , Zhang et al. 34 , Wang et al. 35 , and Xiang et al. 36 for determining carbon density, we collated four datasets on carbon density: Dataset 1 comprised experimentally determined carbon density data on the JRB and its neighboring regions. A dataset on carbon density in Chinese terrestrial ecosystems (2010s) 37 obtained from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was processed in ArcGIS 10.3 to extract carbon density measurements in the study area and its surroundings. In addition, we utilized carbon density data obtained by Xia et al. 38 and Xia et al. 39 . Dataset 2 comprised carbon density data on the JRB, and it was collected from Zhang et al. 40 . Dataset 3 comprised carbon density data on the surrounding areas of the JRB, and it was collected from Xiang et al. 36 . The data were corrected for carbon density using the mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation correction models 41 . Dataset 4 comprised carbon density data on the climatic zone of the study area, and it was collected from Liu et al. 42 . Finally, we analyzed the collected carbon density data to remove outliers, and then took the average of the carbon density of each component for each LUT as the carbon pool data for the InVEST model (Table 1 ).

The research flowchart of the simulation and assessment of land-use changes and carbon storage in this paper is shown in Fig.  2 .

figure 2

The research framework of this study.

Multi-scenario setting

According to policy documents such as the Territorial Spatial Plan (2021–2035) of Shaanxi Province, Gansu Province, Sichuan Province, and Chongqing Municipality (municipalities directly under the central government) where the JRB is situated, we established the simulation timeframe for future land use in the JRB as the year 2035. The JRB, an important ecological reserve and grain-producing region in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, predominantly consists of cropland, forestland, and grassland as its land use types. Drawing on the land use scenario simulation studies conducted by Zhang et al. 40 within the JRB and by Yang et al. 43 in the surrounding areas, we established the BAU, CP, and EP scenarios for the future land use of the JRB. The specifics of these scenarios are described as follows:

The BAU scenario was constructed based on land-use change ratios, socioeconomic factors, and natural environmental drivers from 2015 to 2020, without considering policy planning constraints. The Markov model was employed to predict the future demand for various LUTs, and the LUT demand served as a parameter for land-use demand in the PLUS model 2 . This scenario formed the basis for setting other scenarios.

The CP scenario was built upon the BAU scenario according to the setup parameters presented in Li et al. 19 , Wang et al. 44 , and Li et al. 45 . In this scenario, the Markov transfer probability matrix was adjusted. The conversion probability of cropland to construction land was reduced by 65% to rigorously enforce CP policies.

The EP scenario was developed based on the BAU scenario according to the setup parameters presented in Li et al. 16 , Wang et al. 44 , and Li et al. 45 . In this scenario, through the modification of the Markov transfer probability matrix, the conversion probabilities of forestland and grassland to construction land were 50% lower than that in the BAU scenario, while the conversion probability of water to construction land was 30% lower. Additionally, the ecological capacity of cropland was weaker than that of forestland. Therefore, the probability of cropland being converted into construction land was 25% lower than that in the BAU scenario.

Markov model

The Markov model, based on the Markov chain process, is a statistical method for predicting future probability, and it is characterized by the non-aftereffect property, stochasticity, discreteness, and stationarity 16 , 46 . It predicts future land-use change trends using initial state and transfer probability matrices 19 . The formula for the model is as follows:

where \({S}_{t}\) and \({S}_{t+1}\) are the land-use states at \(t\) and \(t+1\) , respectively; \({P}_{ij}\) is the transfer probability of LUT \(i\) to \(j\) during the study period.

To minimize errors generated by the Markov model in long time series, in this study, the LUT demand under each scenario was predicted sequentially at five-year intervals, that is, for 2025, 2030, and 2035.

PLUS model, key parameter setting, model validation

The PLUS model enables the generation of land-use change simulations using raster data patches, allowing for the exploration of causal factors influencing various LUT changes and the simulation of changes at the patch level 11 . This model comprises two modules: a rule-mining framework based on a land expansion analysis strategy (LEAS) and a CA model based on multi-type random patch seeds (CARS) 11 . The LEAS module can extract and sample land-use expansion between two periods of land-use change, employing the random forest algorithm to mine and acquire development probabilities and the contribution ratios of drivers for various LUTs 47 . Under the constraints of development probabilities, the CARS module simulates the automatic generation of patches by combining randomly generated seeds and employing decreasing threshold mechanisms 48 .

Neighborhood weight setting

Neighborhood weight indicates the expansion capacity of various LUTs, with values ranging from 0 to 1 19 . This study determined the parameters for neighborhood weights for different scenarios according to the expansion area share of various LUTs 49 , combined with insights from related studies (see Table 2 ) 33 , 50 .

Cost matrix setting

A cost matrix represents the conversion rules between various LUTs. A matrix value of 0 is assigned when one LUT cannot be converted into another, and a matrix value of 1 is assigned when the opposite is true. Table 3 presents the cost matrices for different scenarios.

Restricted region setting

In different scenarios, the river water surface was transformed into a binary image, with 0 indicating the non-transformable region and 1 indicating the transformable region. These images were then input into the PLUS model as restricted factors.

PLUS model validation

To assess the accuracy of land-use simulation results, overall accuracy (OA), and the figure of merit (FoM) coefficient were employed. An OA approaching 1 indicates higher simulation accuracy, with an OA value of > 0.75 indicating a reliable simulation 48 , while a smaller FoM value indicates higher simulation accuracy 51 . The formula for FoM is as follows 52 :

where Misses is the area of error due to reference change simulated as persistence; Hits is the area correctly identified as change resulting from reference change; Wrong Hits is the area of error due to reference change simulated as change to the wrong category; False Alarms is the area of error due to reference persistence simulated as change.

Consequently, based on land-use data from 2015, the simulation data for 2020 generated by the PLUS model prediction were compared with the actual data. The results revealed an OA of 0.9961, and an FoM coefficient of 0.0232, indicating that the model can accurately simulate future land-use changes in the JRB.

  • Carbon storage
  • InVEST model

The carbon module of the InVEST model assumes that various LUTs correspond to total carbon density, which consists of belowground carbon density, aboveground carbon density, dead organic matter carbon density, and soil organic matter carbon density. The model considers the carbon density of various LUTs to be constant 53 . The calculation formula is as follows:

In formulas ( 3 ) and ( 4 ), \(i\) denotes the i -th LUT; \({C}_{i}\) is the total carbon density of LUT I ; \({C}_{i-above}\) , \({C}_{i-below}\) , \({C}_{i-dead}\) , and \({C}_{i-soil}\) are the aboveground, belowground, dead organic matter, and soil organic matter carbon densities of LUT I , respectively; \({C}_{i-total}\) is the total carbon storage of LUT I ; n is the total number of LUTs; and \({S}_{i}\) is the area of LUT I .

Spatial correlation analysis

Spatial autocorrelation is a common method used to test whether the attribute values of elements are spatially correlated and the degree of spatial relevance 49 . This measure helps identify the extent to which attributes are clustered or dispersed. According to previous studies 49 , 54 , 55 , to account for the actual conditions in the JRB and the complexity of data processing, a grid of 9 km × 9 km was generated, along with grid points within the study area, using ArcGIS 10.3. Carbon storage data were linked with the grid to obtain the carbon storage value for each grid point. At the grid scale, global autocorrelation results were derived by calculating the spatial autocorrelation Global Moran’s I index. Subsequently, outlier or clustering location maps (i.e., local indicators of spatial association [LISA] clustering maps) were generated through clustering and outlier analysis. Finally, cold-hotspot analysis was employed to study the spatial distribution pattern of high-value and low-value carbon storage clusters in the JRB, aiding in the detection of unusual events. Detailed formulas and additional information on spatial autocorrelation analysis can be found in the literature 56 , 57 .

Land-use changes, 2000–2020

From 2000 to 2020, the JRB was primarily composed of cropland, forestland, and grassland, accounting for more than 43%, 32%, and 21% of the total basin area, respectively (Table 4 ). The remaining LUTs covered smaller areas, each accounting for less than 2% of the total basin area. Each LUT area underwent varying degrees of change, with the most significant change occurring in cropland areas, which continued to decrease, resulting in a total reduction of 1536.98 km 2 or 2.16%. Conversely, the water and construction land areas continued to increase, with additional values of 107.24 and 1087.94 km 2 , representing increases of 6.77% and 66.40%, respectively. The areas of forestland, grassland, and unused land also generally increased, with additional values of 239.89, 49.10, and 52.81 km 2 , corresponding to increases of 0.46%, 0.14%, and 11.10%, respectively. These changes were primarily due to rapid urbanization in the JRB, leading to significant encroachment of construction land on cropland. Additionally, the national policy of “returning cropland to forest for grass” resulted in the conversion of cropland to forestland and grassland. Moreover, the state’s comprehensive promotion of ecological restoration and protection in the Yangtze River Basin played a crucial role in increasing the water area.

Cropland was mainly concentrated in the Sichuan Basin in the south of JRB, and it was also distributed in the eastern, northern, and central regions (Fig.  3 ). Forestland was predominantly situated in the mountainous areas surrounding the Sichuan Basin, as well as in the middle and upper reaches of the JRB. Grassland was mainly found in the middle and upper reaches of the JRB. Construction land was primarily located on both sides of the river in the middle and lower reaches of the JRB, while unused land was situated at higher elevations in the northwest of the basin.

figure 3

Land-use spatiotemporal distribution in the JRB from 2000 to 2020.

A total of 1673.27 km 2 of cropland in the JRB underwent changes from 2000 to 2020, with 61.11% of cropland being converted into construction land, while 136.29 km 2 was transformed into cropland (Fig.  4 ). Forest land experienced an addition of 451.75 km 2 and a loss of 211.86 km 2 . Grassland experienced an addition of 377.70 km 2 and a loss of 328.59 km 2 . Water area experienced an addition of 116.82 km 2 and a loss of 9.58 km 2 . Construction land experienced an addition of 1108.84 km 2 , of which 92.22% was from cropland, and a loss of 20.91 km 2 . The net increase in the areas of forestland, grassland, water, and construction land accounted for 15.61%, 3.19%, 6.98%, and 70.78% of the total net increase in area, respectively. This indicates that the significant decrease in cropland area was primarily due to its conversion into construction land. The conversion of forestland and grassland into cropland also contributed to the decrease in cropland area.

figure 4

Sankey map of land-use transfer for the JRB, 2000–2020 (km 2 ).

Carbon storage spatiotemporal changes, 2000–2020

Carbon storage in the JRB first increased and then decreased over the years from 2000 to 2020, reaching its peak in 2005 (Table 5 ). The carbon storage values in 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 (i.e., five-year intervals) were 2,231.06, 2,232.98, 2,232.10, 2,228.94, and 2,227.18 × 10 6 t, respectively. This represents a total decrease of 3.88 × 10 6 t, with an average decrease of 0.17%. Carbon storage changes differed among various LUTs. Cropland, forestland, and grassland were the most essential carbon pools in the JRB, each accounting for more than 30% of the total carbon storage. Together, they comprised over 98% of the total carbon storage, and their combined values continued to decrease over time. The combined highest and lowest carbon storage values of these three LUTs were 2,197.85 × 10 6 (in 2000) and 2,186.85 × 10 6 t (in 2020), representing 98.51% and 98.19% of the total, respectively. Cropland carbon storage decreased by 2.16% from 2000 to 2020, while water and construction land carbon storage increased by 6.77% and 66.40%, respectively, from 2000 to 2020. The carbon storage of forestland, grassland, and unused land initially increased and then decreased over the years from 2000 to 2020, with overall increases of 0.46%, 0.14%, and 11.10%, respectively.

The distribution of carbon storage was strongly correlated with LUT (Fig.  5 ), with higher carbon storage values in the north and lower values in the south. High-value regions were predominantly located in the northwestern and northern mountainous regions, while low-value regions were mostly situated in the hilly areas of the Sichuan Basin.

figure 5

Spatiotemporal distribution of carbon storage in the JRB from 2000 to 2020.

Different LUT conversions impacted carbon storage owing to the effects of various LUT transfers and differences in carbon density (Fig.  6 ). Among these, the carbon storage changes in cropland, forestland, grassland, water, and construction land accounted for 71.70%, 8.79%, 17.90%, 0.32%, and 1.02% of the total changes, respectively. Carbon storage changes in cropland from 2000 to 2020 primarily reflected the conversion of cropland into construction land, grassland, and forestland. Carbon storage changes in forestland mainly resulted from the conversion of forestland into construction land, cropland, and grassland. Carbon storage changes in grassland were mainly driven by the conversion of grassland into forestland, cropland, and construction land. Carbon storage changes in water mainly stemmed from the conversion of water into construction land and grassland. Carbon storage changes in construction land were primarily due to conversions into cropland, forestland, and water.

figure 6

( a ) Proportions of carbon storage variation and ( b ) carbon storage variations in the conversions of different LUTs in the JRB, 2000–2020.

Carbon storage spatial correlation analysis from 2000 to 2020

Global spatial autocorrelation analysis of the JRB carbon storage was conducted to obtain the Global Moran’s I index for the five time points from 2000 to 2020 (Table 6 ). Under a 0.01 significance test level, the Z -score values for 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 were all greater than the test threshold value of 2.58, indicating a highly significant result. The Global Moran’s I index values of 0.9076, 0.9078, 0.9089, 0.9081, and 0.9094 for 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020 were > 0, indicating that the spatial distribution of the JRB carbon storage exhibited apparent aggregation. The Global Moran’s I index gradually increased over time, reaching extremely high values in 2010 and 2020, suggesting that the spatial distribution of carbon storage in the JRB showed fluctuating but overall strengthening agglomeration trends.

To further analyze the spatial clustering patterns of carbon storage distribution in the JRB, a spatial LISA clustering map was constructed using local autocorrelation analysis (Fig.  7 ). The clustering of carbon storage was characterized by high levels in the north and low levels in the south. The “high–high” clustering region was relatively scattered, mainly distributed in JRB’s northwestern area. The “low–low” clustering region was more concentrated, mainly in JRB’s middle and lower reaches. Neither the “high–high” nor the “low–low” clustering regions changed significantly over time.

figure 7

LISA agglomeration diagram of carbon storage in the JRB, 2000–2020.

To further investigate the spatial location and degree of high-value and low-value clusters of carbon storage in the JRB, a cold-hotspot analysis was conducted (Fig.  8 ). The results indicated that the cold spots and hot spots of carbon storage in the JRB were clustered with significant cold-hotspot effects and had a high degree of spatial differentiation. No transformation occurred between cold spots and hot spots. Carbon storage hot spots were distributed relatively scatteredly, mainly in JRB’s upper and northwestern regions. This distribution was primarily due to forestland and grassland dominating the region, with significant terrain undulations, high elevation, relatively low temperature, and precipitation. The state vigorously implemented ecosystem protection and restoration measures in the region, resulting in a rich and high coverage of vegetation types. Carbon storage cold spots were concentrated and stable, distributed in JRB’s middle and lower reaches in a centralized manner. This concentration was attributed to the region’s flat terrain and the presence of extensive agricultural lands in the Chengdu–Chongqing economic circle in southwest China. Strong human activities and rapid urban development in the region led to the spread of urban living space, directly encroaching upon cropland, which served certain ecological functions, and forestland, grassland, and other ecological lands.

figure 8

Cold-spot and hot-spot distribution of carbon storage in the JRB from 2000 to 2020.

Land use and carbon storage changes under various scenarios

A study of land use and carbon storage in the JRB from 2020 to 2035 revealed (Figs. 9 and 10 ) that under different scenarios, the area of water and construction land and their carbon storage increased, while that of the remaining LUTs decreased. These changes mostly occurred in the hilly regions of the Sichuan Basin in JRB’s middle and lower reaches, and the spatial distribution of LUTs and carbon storage generally remained the same.

figure 9

Changes in land-use area and carbon storage under various scenarios in the JRB, 2020–2035. ( a ) LUT area change; ( b ) percentage of LUT area change; ( c ) carbon storage change.

figure 10

Land-use and carbon storage spatial distribution of the JRB in 2035 under various scenarios. ( a ), ( b ), and ( c ) were land-use spatial distribution under the BAU scenario, the CP scenario, and the EP scenario, respectively; ( d ), ( e ), and ( f ) were carbon storage spatial distribution under the BAU scenario, the CP scenario, and the EP scenario, respectively.

Under the BAU scenario, the area of construction land increased by 769.38 km 2 (or 28.22%) over time from 2020 to 2035, while cropland, forestland, and grassland areas decreased by 637.18, 164.05, and 17.09 km 2 , or 0.91%, 0.32%, and 0.05%, respectively (Fig.  9 a,b). Carbon storage reduction driven by the conversion from cropland and forestland into other LUTs was 6.44 × 10 6 and 2.40 × 10 6 t, respectively (Fig.  9 c). Carbon storage increased by only 3.53 × 10 6 t owing to construction land expansion, and JRB’s total carbon storage decreased by 5.18 × 10 6 t. Without any policy constraints, construction land expansion was mainly based on the status quo of the original distribution, and construction land continued to extend along the river bank (Figs. 3 e and 10 a), mainly occupying cropland, forestland, and other LUTs with ecological functions to meet socioeconomic development needs. Cropland and forestland became the main areas converted into other LUTs, posing risks to food production and ecological security.

Under the CP scenario, construction land area increased by 275.21 km 2 (or 10.09%) compared with construction land area in 2020, while cropland, forestland, and grassland area decreased by 142.46, 164.56, and 17.15 km 2 , or 0.20%, 0.32%, and 0.05%, respectively (Fig.  9 a,b). Carbon storage decreased by 2.41 × 10 6  and 1.44 × 10 6 t owing to the loss of forestland and cropland, respectively, and increased by 1.26 × 10 6 t owing to an increase in construction land (Fig.  9 c). The total decrease in carbon storage in the JRB (2.45 × 10 6 t) was smaller than those of other scenarios. Most basin cropland was in direct spatial competition with construction land because they were distributed close to each other (Figs. 3 e and 10 b). Therefore, cropland protection corresponded to constrained construction land development. Overall, the CP scenario slowed down cropland conversion while having positive effects on ecological protection.

Under the EP scenario, forestland and grassland areas decreased by 141.71 km 2 (or 0.27%) and 7.88 km 2 (or 0.02%), respectively, over time from 2020 to 2035 (Fig.  9 a,b). Although construction land expansion was pronounced, the expansion rate decreased significantly from 28.22% (the BAU scenario) to 20.03%. Cropland area still decreased, but its decrease amount dropped from 0.91% (the BAU scenario) to 0.64%. The conversions of cropland and forestland resulted in carbon storage reductions of 4.52 × 10 6 and 2.08 × 10 6 t, respectively, while construction land expansion resulted in a carbon storage increase of 2.51 × 10 6 t (Fig.  9 c). Compared with the BAU scenario, the basin’s carbon storage value impairment was lower, at 3.74 × 10 6 t. From the spatial development pattern of LUTs, the decrease in cropland area mainly occurred near construction land (Figs. 3 e and 10 c). In general, under the EP scenario, the conversion of ecological land such as forestland and grassland was somewhat restricted; consequently, cropland was the main type of land that experienced conversion, while reducing construction land encroachment on ecological land contributed to the preservation of the JRB ecological security.

Land-use changes

This paper shows that JRB’s land-use spatial distribution is characterized by evident differentiation. Forestland and grassland are mainly found in JRB’s upper and middle reaches, while cropland and construction land are mostly distributed in JRB’s middle and lower reaches. Similar findings were reported by Xiao et al. 58 for the Yellow River Basin (Henan section) and Wang et al. 59 for the Taihang Mountains. The JRB spans several complex topographic and geomorphic regions, including plateaus, mountains, hills, and basins, with temperature and precipitation gradually increasing from northwest to southeast. Elevation gradually decreases as the river flows. The JRB middle and lower reaches are located in the Sichuan Basin hilly regions, where the terrain is relatively flat, facilitating agricultural and economic activities.

The study found that cropland was the only LUT that decreased in area. Previous studies have suggested that cropland was the LUT that experienced an increase, while only LUTs experienced a decrease, including forestland and unused land 1 , 17 , 41 . The main reason for this trend in the JRB, an important water source and ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, is the systematic implementation of ecological fallowing measures by the government since 1999. These measures include converting cropland to forests, grasslands, and water bodies. Additionally, the development of transportation infrastructure and towns, the expansion of rural residential areas, and the continuous growth of garden land have all contributed to the reduction of cropland area.

Currently, scholars are in dispute over the results of land-use simulations under various scenarios. For example, Wei et al. 17 estimated that in the Ebinur Lake Basin, China, cropland and construction land areas increased significantly over time from 2020 to 2030 under the BAU scenario, while forestland decreased. Conversely, under the EP scenario, cropland and construction land areas decreased, while forestland area increased considerably. Wang et al. 44 estimated that in the Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area, under the BAU scenario, cropland and forestland areas decreased over time from 2020 to 2030, while construction land and grassland areas increased, and under the CP scenario, cropland, grassland, and construction land areas increased. Yang et al. 43 estimated that in Xi’an City, China, under the EP scenario, cropland area decreased over time from 2015 to 2030, while construction land, forestland, and grassland areas increased, and under the CP scenario, construction land area increased, while cropland, forestland, and grassland areas decreased. Our study results show that cropland, forestland, and grassland areas decreased under different scenarios, while construction land area increased significantly, with the smallest amplification in construction land under the CP scenario. A comparison of these studies reveals differences in policies related to territorial spatial planning, economic and social development, and ecological conservation in various study areas. These differences affect the setting of land-use transfer probabilities. Substantial variations in the initial land-use patterns and land-use transfer probabilities in the different study areas lead to differences in land-use simulation results under different scenarios.

Carbon storage changes

Carbon storage in the JRB initially increased and then decreased over time from 2000 to 2020, a trend that aligns with the findings of Gong et al. 4 and Chen et al. 60 . This pattern is primarily attributed to the policy implementation of returning farmland to forests since 2003, resulting in the conversion of cropland to forestland and an increase in carbon storage. However, as urbanization accelerates, rural populations migrate to towns and cities, leading to the expansion of urban boundaries and the constant encroachment into ecologically functional lands around towns and cities. The urban boundaries encroach into a large area of cropland and small areas of forestland and grassland. This ultimately results in a continuous decline in carbon storage.

Our study results show that JRB’s carbon storage was aggregated and generally increased over time; however, the JRB featured no “high–low” or “low–high” clustering region, whereas scholars 32 , 33 , 61 , 62 reported “high–low” and “low–high” clustering patterns for different study regions. Carbon storage high-value and low-value clustering reveal clear distribution boundaries between cold spots and hot spots according to their spatial distribution pattern. These findings differ from those of previous research; for example, Li et al. 33 reported spatial aggregation of carbon storage in Kunming City with fluctuating changes over time. Liang et al. 7 found that cold spots and hot spots in carbon storage on the Loess Plateau represented a small percentage of the total. The cold spots and hot spots exhibited a mosaic and decentralized distribution 7 , 33 . Lin et al. 61 found that the spatial distribution of carbon storage in Guangdong exhibited clustering phenomena, with the degree of agglomeration initially increasing and then decreasing over time. However, the distribution of cold spots and hot spots was scattered, and distinct demarcation lines were lacking. The topography in the northwest of the region is higher, while the southeast of JRB features lower terrain. In the upper reaches of the Jialing River, the landscape consists of meandering courses with deep valleys, whereas the middle reaches exhibit flatter terrain, transitioning from deep hilly regions to shallower hilly areas. In the lower reaches, the main river runs parallel to the eastern part of the Sichuan Basin, forming canyon extensions. The lower basin rises to mountainous terrain. Consequently, the middle and lower reaches of the JRB are characterized by frequent human activities, primarily cropland, leading to lower and patchy carbon storage distribution. In contrast, the topography in the middle and upper reaches of the JRB is dominated by mountainous terrain, including some plateau landforms. These areas feature higher elevations and lower temperatures and precipitation, resulting in a landscape dominated by forestland and grassland. The distribution of forestland and grassland is mosaic-like, which prevents the concentration of high carbon storage regions in a patchy manner. The marginal mountain region of the Sichuan Basin forms a strongly ascending fold belt with significant relative elevation differences. This region exhibits a clear transition from the hilly areas of the JRB, leading to a distinct boundary between high and low carbon storage value distributions.

Impact of land-use changes on carbon storage dynamics

From 2000 to 2020, the change in carbon storage caused by the conversion of cropland to other LUTs accounted for 71.70% of the total change in carbon storage in the JRB. The reduction in carbon storage due to the conversion of various LUTs to construction land was 1.72 times the total reduction in carbon storage in the JRB. Specifically, the reduction of carbon storage caused by the conversion of cropland to construction land was 1.45 times the total reduction in carbon storage in the JRB. Therefore, the conversion of cropland to construction land between 2000 and 2020 was the main factor driving the reduction in carbon storage in the JRB. This finding is consistent with the results of Ren et al. 63 on the impact of land-use change on carbon storage in Gansu Province. However, Zhang et al. 64 found that the conversion of cropland to other LUTs generally led to an increase in carbon storage. In the JRB, carbon storage decreased owing to the following two factors: (1) cropland area experienced a net loss, as 61.11% of the converted cropland area was transformed into construction land; (2) the total carbon density of construction land was only 45.45% of that of cropland.

Studies have yielded varying results regarding the impact of land-use changes on carbon storage under different scenarios. For instance, Li et al. 45 demonstrated that in the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, carbon storage decreased over time from 2020 to 2030 under the BAU scenario, and the carbon storage increase in the EP scenario exceeded that of the CP scenario. In a study of Changchun City conducted by Li et al. 19 , carbon storage was projected to decrease over time from 2020 to 2030 under the BAU scenario, with less value impairment in the CP scenario compared with the BAU scenario, and an increase was observed under the EP scenario. Liu et al. 48 found that carbon storage increased over time from 2020 to 2035 under the BAU, CP, and EP scenarios in the Loess Plateau. In contrast, carbon storage in the JRB decreased under different scenarios, with the least value impairment occurring under the CP scenario and the most significant value impairment occurring under the BAU scenario. An examination of historical land-use changes in the JRB reveals that most of the newly added construction land originated from cropland, resulting in intense competition between these two land types. Construction land area increased substantially in different scenarios, while forestland and cropland with ecological functions decreased significantly. This directly leads to a decrease in carbon storage under different scenarios. The implementation of CP policies minimizes the encroachment of cropland and, consequently, reduces construction land expansion. Therefore, in the future, following the Chinese government’s requirements for replenishing cropland, the JRB should increase the cropland area through the reclamation and remediation of unused land suitable for cultivation and the construction of high-standard farmland. This will enhance the carbon sequestration function of the JRB ecosystem, thereby ensuring food and ecological security in the region and the realization of the “dual-carbon” goals.

Limitations and directions for future work

The three future scenarios for the JRB presented in this paper, established using Markov and PLUS models, may not comprehensively represent all potential future land-use scenarios for the region. Given that JRB encompasses various topographic and geomorphic zones, including plateaus, mountains, hills, and basins, there exist significant disparities in both natural environments and human geography. Therefore, future studies should consider dividing the JRB into distinct regions according to topography and geomorphology, allowing for more precise investigations of land-use changes and carbon storage estimations in each region. Additionally, the study identified 19 driving factors solely for simulating future scenarios, without analyzing in detail the driving forces behind land-use changes in the JRB. To comprehensively elucidate these factors, their impact on land-use changes should be further explored through methods such as geodetector models. Moreover, although this paper elucidates the changing patterns of land use in the JRB, it does not extensively explore the competitive relationships between various LUTs and the strategic decisions in the development and utilization of land resources. Therefore, future research should comprehensively analyze land-use conflicts within the JRB.


This paper explored the evolving dynamics of land use and carbon storage within the JRB between 2000 and 2020. Utilizing land-use data from 2020 as a foundation, a coupled PLUS–InVEST model was applied to simulate and predict land-use and carbon storage patterns for 2035 under varying scenarios. The study also investigated the ramifications of land-use alterations on carbon storage, resulting in the following key findings and principal conclusions:

The PLUS–InVEST coupled model demonstrated strong applicability within the JRB. Model validation yielded an OA of 0.9961, and an FoM coefficient of 0.0232, signifying a high level of simulation accuracy. These results demonstrate the PLUS–InVEST model effectiveness in forecasting future land-use patterns within the JRB.

Cropland was the predominant LUT in the JRB, encompassing over 43% of the total land area. It was primarily distributed in the middle and lower reaches of JRB, specifically within the hilly regions of the Sichuan Basin. Moreover, cropland was the only LUT that experienced a decrease in area; the decrease amounted to 1,673.27 km 2 , of which 61.11% was converted into construction land. This indicates the existence of a contradiction between human needs and available land resources in the JRB. This situation necessitates the scientific formulation of land-use policies in the JRB and calls for the exploration of new pathways for the coordinated development of regional urbanization and food and ecological security.

The three most substantial carbon reservoirs in the JRB—cropland, forestland, and grassland—collectively accounted for over 98% of the total carbon storage in 2000–2020, a sum which decreased over time. The conversion of cropland to construction land between 2000 and 2020 was the primary factor driving the reduction in carbon storage in the JRB. This resulted in an overall weakening of the carbon sequestration capacity of the ecosystem in the JRB. Carbon storage exhibits a clear spatial aggregation and stabilization within the JRB, with higher levels observed in the northern regions and lower levels in the southern areas. Potential strategies to address these trends and promote ecological security include implementing more afforestation and grass-planting initiatives in the middle and upper reaches of the JRB. Additionally, efforts to decelerate urbanization in the middle and lower reaches of the JRB could mitigate ecological risks.

Across different scenarios, there was a consistent pattern of increasing water and construction land areas, along with corresponding carbon storage expansion. Conversely, the areas and carbon storage of other LUTs decreased over time from 2020 to 2035, with these shifts predominantly occurring in the middle and lower reaches of the JRB. An examination of the period from 2020 to 2035 under the CP scenario revealed that cropland area exhibited a minimal decline of only 0.20%, significantly less than the 0.91% decrease in the BAU scenario and the 0.64% decrease in the EP scenario. Moreover, the CP-scenario carbon storage value impairment amounted to 2.45 × 10 6 t, which was 47.42% of the carbon storage value impairment in the BAU scenario and 65.56% of that in the EP scenario. Therefore, under the scenarios outlined in this paper, although the CP policy can effectively control the rate of cropland area reduction, it cannot prevent the reduction of cropland area, and the carbon sequestration function of the ecosystem in the JRB will still be weakened. Therefore, strict adherence to the task of replenishing cropland mandated by the Chinese government is imperative. Increasing cropland area through land remediation and high-standard farmland construction is crucial for enhancing the carbon sequestration function of the JRB ecosystem. This approach will positively contribute to ensuring the food and ecological security of the JRB and achieving the “dual-carbon” goals.

Data availability

All data presented in this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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This work was supported by the Nanchong Vocational College of Culture and Tourism of Research Fund Program (Grant No. NC23B042). We would like to thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions to improve our manuscript.

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After Supreme Court ruling, judge considers Trump's immunity claim in classified docs case

case study what are

Donald Trump is seeking to build on his Supreme Court victory, which provided immunity from criminal prosecution for his official acts as president, by asking judges in his federal classified documents case and in his New York hush money conviction to throw out all of those charges.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon postponed deadlines Saturday to debate evidence in the classified documents case and instead asked for written arguments about Trump’s immunity in the next two weeks.

Trump’s lawyers asked Cannon on Friday to halt all action in the classified documents case until she rules whether the charges are valid.

New York Judge Juan Merchan postponed sentencing Trump for his hush-money conviction of 34 counts of falsifying business records, which had been scheduled for Thursday, until September.

When the Supreme Court formally returns the election-interference case to U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, she must weigh which charges are still valid to prosecute.

Neither Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith nor Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has responded to the Supreme Court’s decision yet.

Trump’s lawyers, Todd Blanche and Christopher Kise, have argued the high court’s ruling means each of the judges will have to determine which conduct is official or unofficial – and not use any official conduct as evidence for charges against unofficial conduct.

Here is where the cases stand:

Supreme Court orders 'close analysis' of whether Trump conduct was unofficial

The reason for uncertainty about criminal charges against Trump is because no former president has ever been charged before and the Supreme Court hadn’t ruled on whether they could be.

Until July 1. That’s when Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a 6-3 majority that former presidents can’t be tried for their official acts, but could potentially be charged for unofficial acts.

The ruling said presidents discussing policy with executive agencies can’t even be questioned about their motives. This ruled out charges involving Trump urging his acting attorney general to pursue allegations of election fraud with officials in swing states.

But the ruling left open the possibility of charges dealing with Trump’s recruitment of fake presidential electors to support him in states President Joe Biden won. Roberts wrote that determining whether Trump's pressure on then-Vice President Mike Pence "requires a close analysis of the indictment’s extensive and interrelated allegations."

“The President is not above the law,” Roberts wrote. “But under our system of separated powers, the President may not be prosecuted for exercising his core constitutional powers, and he is entitled to at least presumptive immunity from prosecution for his official acts."

Trial judges must now determine whether Trump’s conduct for the various charges was official or unofficial.

Judge postpones filings in classified documents case to study Trump's immunity claim

Trump was charged with retaining national defense records and conspiring to hide them from government authorities until FBI agents seized them during a search of Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, in August 2022.

Prosecutors have noted the entire case involves conduct after Trump left the White House in January 2021. Smith's team office said Trump did not have legal authority to designate secret national security documents as personal records and send them to his private home. But Trump’s lawyers have argued his decision to ship the documents to Mar-a-Lago was an official act.

In an order Saturday, Cannon scrapped a Monday deadline for Trump to disclose his experts and Wednesday deadlines for prosecutors and defense lawyers to share more evidence in the case.

Instead, Cannon set a deadline July 18 for Smith to respond to Trump’s request for immunity. Trump will have until July 21 to respond.

Cannon hasn’t set a date for a hearing, but said she could still collect more evidence.

Trump’s lawyers want Cannon to only move forward on two issues in the case: Smith's request for a gag order preventing Trump from making comments that could incite threats against FBI agents working the case, and whether Smith was properly appointed to his job as special counsel.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling on immunity, Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote  a concurrence  questioning Smith's appointment, even though that wasn't at issue in the case and many special counsels have been previously appointed under similar circumstances.

Judge in federal election interference must also determine unofficial conduct

The Supreme Court hasn’t formally returned Trump’s election-interference case to Chutkan, under what is called a “mandate,” which might not happen until Aug. 2.

“The judgment or mandate of this Court will not issue for at least thirty-two days,” Supreme Court clerk Scott Harris wrote July 1 to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Chutkan will have to review which charges – if any – can go to trial once she gets the case back.

New York sentencing postponed because of potential immunity

Merchan previously postponed sentencing Trump in the hush-money case, which had been scheduled Thursday, until Sept. 18.

But that’s only if necessary. Merchan plans to decide Sept. 6 whether Trump is immune from the charges, even though his case involves state charges and the Supreme Court was reviewing federal charges.

Trump was convicted May 30 of falsifying records to hide his reimbursement to private lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid $130,000 to silence porn actress Stormy Daniels about alleged sex with Trump before the 2016 election.

The financial arrangements between Cohen and Daniels happened before Trump was elected president. But his series of 11 payments to Cohen – through his private company – happened the first year of his presidency.

Merchan previously ruled that Trump filed an immunity argument in the case too late to be considered.

case study what are

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Mammograms have pros and cons for women in their 40s. they can handle the nuance.

The most recent recommendation of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is that all women 40 to 74 get mammograms every other year. A previous recommendation said screening should start at 50. One doctor suggests that people "test smarter, not test more."

Guidelines for when women should start getting mammograms have been changing. A new study makes the case for explaining to women the risks and benefits of screening for breast cancer.

New research makes the case for educating women in their 40s — who've been caught in the crossfire of a decades-long debate about whether to be screened for breast cancer with mammograms — about the harms as well as the benefits of the exam.

After a nationally representative sample of U.S. women between the ages of 39 and 49 learned about the pros and cons of mammography, more than twice as many elected to wait until they turn 50 to get screened, a study released Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine found.

Most women have absorbed the widely broadcast message that screening mammography saves lives by the time they enter middle age. But many remain unaware of the costs of routine screening in their 40s — in false-positive results, unnecessary biopsies, anxiety and debilitating treatment for tumors that left alone would do no harm.

"In an ideal world, all women would get this information and then get to have their further questions answered by their doctor and come up with a screening plan that is right for them given their preferences, their values and their risk level," said social psychologist Laura Scherer , the study's lead author and an associate professor of research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Of 495 women surveyed, only 8% initially said they wanted to wait until they turned 50 to get a mammogram. After researchers informed the women of the benefits and the harms, 18% said they would wait until 50.

"We're not being honest"

Learning about the downsides of mammograms did not discourage women from wanting to get the test at some point, the study showed.

The benefits and the harms of mammography came as a surprise to nearly half the study's participants. More than one-quarter said what they learned from the study about overdiagnosis differed from what their doctors told them.

"We're not being honest with people," said breast cancer surgeon Laura Esserman , director of the University of California San Francisco Breast Care Center, who was not involved with the research.

"I think most people are completely unaware of the risks associated with screening because we've had 30, 40 years of a public health messaging campaign: Go out and get your mammogram, and everything will be fine," she said in an NPR interview.

Esserman sees women who are diagnosed with slow-growing tumors that she believes in all likelihood would never harm them. In addition, mammography can give women a false sense of security, she said, like it did for Olivia Munn .

The 44-year-old actress had a clean mammogram and a negative test for cancer genes shortly before her doctor calculated her score for lifetime breast cancer risk, setting off an alarm that led to her being treated for fast-moving, aggressive breast cancer in both breasts.

Toward a personalized plan for screening

Esserman advocates for a personalized approach to breast cancer screening like the one that led to Munn's diagnosis. In 2016, she launched the WISDOM study , which aims to tailor screening to a woman's risk and, in her words, "to test smarter, not test more."

The National Cancer Institute estimates that more than 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 42,250 will die in the U.S. this year. Incidence rates have been creeping up about 1% a year, while death rates have been falling a little more than 1% a year.

For the past 28 years, the influential U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has been flip-flopping in its recommendations about when women should begin mammography screening.

From 1996 until 2002, the independent panel of volunteer medical experts who help guide physicians, insurers and policymakers said women should begin screening at 50. In 2002, the task force said women in their 40s should be screened every year or two. In 2009, it said that 40-something women should decide whether to get mammograms based on their health history and individual preferences.

The new study was conducted in 2022, when the task force guidelines called for women in their 40s to make individual decisions.

New guidelines

In 2024, the panel returned to saying that all women between the ages of 40 and 74 should be screened with mammograms every other year. Rising breast cancer rates in younger women, as well as models showing the number of lives that screening might save, especially among Black women, drove the push for earlier screening.

An editorial accompanying the new study stresses the need for education about mammography and the value of shared decision-making between clinicians and patients.

"For an informed decision to be made," states the editorial written by Dr. Victoria Mintsopoulos and Dr. Michelle B. Nadler, both of the University of Toronto in Ontario, "the harms of overdiagnosis — defined as diagnosis of asymptomatic cancer that would not harm the patient in the future — must be communicated."

Copyright 2024 NPR

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Science News

Can light spark superconductivity a new study reignites debate.

Magnetic measurements point to zero electrical resistance, but some physicists are unconvinced 

An illustration shows a grid of atoms being hit with a red beam of laser light. Blue lines indicating a magnetic field emanate from the lit-up region.

When hit with laser light (illustrated, red), a cuprate containing copper and oxygen atoms (blue and red spheres) expels magnetic fields (blue). That effect strengthens the case for light-induced superconductivity in such materials.

Sebastian Fava, Jörg M. Harms

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By Emily Conover

8 hours ago

Brief blasts of light might make some materials into fleeting superconductors. A new study strengthens the case for this controversial claim, first made more than a decade ago. But while some physicists are convinced, others remain skeptical.

Superconductors transmit electricity without resistance, typically only at low temperatures. But since 2011, some scientists have claimed that certain materials, when hit with intense, ultrashort laser pulses, can  briefly become superconductors  at temperatures far above their normal limit, including room temperature. 

The previous research showed a temporary change in the reflectivity of cuprates, compounds containing copper and oxygen, when blasted with light. That change indicated a drop in resistance lasting mere trillionths of a second, or picoseconds. Critics argued that the change could be caused by effects other than superconductivity. 

The new study claps back. One cuprate  expels magnetic fields  when hit with light, physicist Andrea Cavalleri and colleagues report July 10 in  Nature . That expulsion, they say, is a hallmark of superconductivity known as the  Meissner effect  ( SN: 7/6/15 ).

The observation is “basically an unmistakable signature of superconductivity,” says physicist Dmitri Basov of Columbia University, who was not involved with the research.

Not everyone is so convinced by the new work. “They’re seeing this change that lasts for [about] a picosecond, and it’s not immediately obvious that it’s the same thing as the Meissner effect,” says physicist Steve Dodge of Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada.

Superconductors attract intense interest from physicists, in part because of their technological potential. A superconductor that operates at high temperatures could allow for more efficient power transmission, for example, potentially saving vast amounts of energy. And mysteries still shroud the phenomenon. Cuprates are superconducting at higher temperatures than most, and it’s still not fully understood why.

Scientists knew that light could disrupt superconductivity, but the idea that light could also birth it was unexpected and controversial. And in previous studies, “things were a bit subjective, they kind of ‘smelled’ like a superconductor but … you couldn’t really be sure,” says Cavalleri, of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg.

So Cavalleri and colleagues set their sights on the Meissner effect. They studied a type of cuprate called yttrium barium copper oxide, or YBCO. That’s a class of compounds that had previously shown signs of light-induced superconductivity. 

But precisely measuring magnetic field changes over picoseconds is no easy feat. “No existing technique allows you to do this measurement,” Cavalleri says.

The team devised a scheme that used a crystal of gallium phosphide placed next to the YBCO to measure magnetic fields. In experiments performed within a preexisting magnetic field, the researchers hit the YBCO with the laser, and sent a second laser through the crystal. The trip through the crystal changed the laser’s polarization — the orientation of its electromagnetic waves — in a way dictated by the magnetic field within the crystal. That effect allowed the team to determine how the magnetic field changed near the YBCO as it was bombarded with light at temperature normally above the YBCO’s superconducting limit. 

If the YBCO became a superconductor, it would expel magnetic fields from within due to the Meissner effect. That would result in a stronger magnetic field at the YBCO’s edge, which is exactly what the team found. The measurements had to be made extremely quickly to capture the short-lived Meissner effect, Basov says. “This is a brilliant concept and brilliant execution.” 

Physicist Nan-Lin Wang of Peking University is convinced that magnetic fields are expelled when the laser pulse hits the YBCO. But whether that implies superconductivity as it is normally defined is unclear. It might be the result of preexisting, small-scale superconducting currents being amplified, rather than of typical large-scale superconductivity. “The underlying physics could be very complicated,” he says.

But Dodge contends that something other than superconductivity could be responsible. At high intensities of light, he notes, complex and unexpected phenomena can occur. “I would like to see … some careful scrutiny to ensure that they’re not mistaking some other effect for a Meissner effect.” What, exactly, is behind the change in the magnetic field is not clear, Dodge says. While he’s still skeptical of the superconductivity claim, he says “it’s a worthwhile experiment because it raises some questions that I certainly don’t know the answer to.” 

More Stories from Science News on Physics

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Jurassic Park ’s amber-preserved dino DNA is now inspiring a way to store data 

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Advanced nuclear reactors need a different type of uranium. Here’s 4 things to know 

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The second law of thermodynamics underlies nearly everything. But is it inviolable?

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Scientists propose a hunt for never-before-seen ‘tauonium’ atoms 

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Two real-world tests of quantum memories bring a quantum internet closer to reality

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Unravelling the role of gut microbiota in acute pancreatitis: integrating Mendelian randomization with a nested case-control study


  • 1 Department of General Surgery, Peking University First Hospital, Peking University, Beijing, China.
  • 2 Department of General Surgery, Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.
  • 3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Peking University Health Science Centre, Beijing, China.
  • PMID: 39021624
  • PMCID: PMC11253135
  • DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2024.1401056

Background: Gut microbiota may influence the development of acute pancreatitis (AP), a serious gastrointestinal disease with high morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to identify a causal link by investigating the relationship between gut microbiota and AP.

Methods: Mendelian randomization (MR) and a nested case-control study were used to explore associations between gut microbiota composition and AP. 16S rRNA sequencing, random forest modelling (RF), support vector machine (SVM), and Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was applied to identify significant gut microbiota and their correlation with hospitalization duration in AP patients.

Results: Bidirectional MR results confirmed a causal link between specific gut microbiota and AP (15 and 8 microbial taxa identified via forward and reverse MR, respectively). The 16S rRNA sequencing analysis demonstrated a pronounced difference in gut microbiota composition between cases and controls. Notably, after a comprehensive evaluation of the results of RF and SVM, Bacteroides plebeius ( B. plebeius ) was found to play a significant role in influencing the hospital status. Using a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, the predictive power (0.757) of B. plebeius . Kaplan-Meier survival analysis offered further insight that patients with an elevated abundance of B. plebeius experienced prolonged hospital stays.

Conclusion: Combining MR with nested case-control studies provided a detailed characterization of interactions between gut microbiota and AP. B. plebeius was identified as a significant contributor, suggesting its role as both a precursor and consequence of AP dynamics. The findings highlight the multifactorial nature of AP and its complex relationship with the gut microbiota. This study lays the groundwork for future therapeutic interventions targeting microbial dynamics in AP treatment.

Keywords: Bacteroides plebeius; Mendelian randomization; acute pancreatitis; gut microbiota; nested case–control study.

Copyright © 2024 Qu, Lu, Chen, Li, Xu and Li.

PubMed Disclaimer

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Description of the study design…

Description of the study design and analysis process.

Phylogenetic tree of the gut…

Phylogenetic tree of the gut microbiota. The phylogenetic tree includes nine phyla, 16…

Results of bidirectional Mendelian randomisation…

Results of bidirectional Mendelian randomisation of gut microbiota and acute pancreatitis. Ring clustering…

Characteristics of the gut microbiota…

Characteristics of the gut microbiota between case and control. (A) Venn diagram of…

Screening the key gut microbiota…

Screening the key gut microbiota related to the prognosis of acute pancreatitis using…

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Mid-term evaluation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF)

The Mid-term evaluation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) was completed in 2024 and covers the period from 2021 to 2023.

The mid-term evaluation of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), in the middle of the programme’s operating time, has been completed in line with Article 32 of the Regulation establishing the RRF. The mid-term evaluation has been undertaken jointly by DG ECFIN and SG RECOVER and considered the criteria of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, EU value added and coherence, in line with the requirements set out in the Commission Better Regulation Guidelines. The evaluation builds on the results of an external independent supporting study, contracted by the Commission in March 2023 and concluded in November 2023 by a consortium co-led by ECORYS and CEPS. The SWD accompanies the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on strengthening the EU through ambitious reforms and investments.

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