Writing Genres: Case Studies

Writing It Right For YouThere are many genres (types) of writing for the academic sphere and for the business market. A case study, which examines a real-world scenario, can be written for either.  Usually a case study starts with a problem to be solved and continues with descriptions and evaluations to investigate the problem from various viewpoints.

A case study can be written about people or about situations. Different ways a case study is presented include through research, interviews, questionnaires, observation, diaries, or historic and current documentation.

There are generally three types of case studies, depending on the purpose:

1) Exploratory case studies use research to look for patterns in data. With an exploratory case study, you are looking for an answer to a “what” question.

2) Descriptive case studies focus on a more specific aspect of the “what” question. The purpose of a descriptive case study is to use data or information to prove a theory.

3) Explanatory case studies analyze or explain why something happens or has happened. The explanation answers “how” or “why” questions.

Case studies do not always have to be academically research-based, however. A case study can be completed about a person or situation in your company that explores, describes, or explains the attainment of an important milestone or goal.

A case study-type document can be just a few pages long or consist of several chapters. Contact the writers and editors at Writing It Right For You if you need assistance with the preparation of an academic or business case study. We know that “It Matters How You Say It”!

When is a blog a cheese sandwich?

Nigel Legg Using social media to promote your blog. This question was posed on twitter some time back, and the point the poster was trying to make is a very valid one.  In essence, the question is the same as the old one about whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if there is no one there to hear it: if no one reads your blog post, would your time have been better spent making (and eating) a cheese sandwich? Writing a blog post is only a part of publishing your thoughts, ideas, and news on the internet. The second, and equally important, part is gathering an audience of readers. Without readers, your posts are an interesting record if nothing more.  Don’t let these comments discourage you, however; remember that posts that you might have made in the past, which might not have been read by many people, are still there, and you can still promote them. I will cover four Social media tools you can use to gather an audience (or draw traffic) to your blog: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and bookmarking sites.

Twitter. With around 105 million registered users, twitter is currently the second largest social media site, but, by its nature it is fast moving and it can be hard to gain traction there. When you post an article to your blog, it is good practice to post a link to it to twitter, telling people that it is there and giving them a very short taster of the content.  A number of blogging services will automatically post for you, including Posterous, and twitterfeed will also post when the article is posted.  If you use these services, however, be aware that they only post the title of the article, and they post as soon as the article is published; you need to be sure everything is correct before you use them.

Facebook. In facebook you can do one of two things: you can set things up to bring the whole blog post in as a Note, or you can post the link to the article in your news feed.  The advantage of Facebook over twitter is that you can explain why it would be useful for your Facebook audience to read the article – the downside is that you may blog about business, but use Facebook for personal connections.

LinkedIn. If you use the WordPress platform for your Blog, you can set up the LinkedIn WordPress application, which will publish your blog posts to your profile.  This is especially useful if you are the only person using a blog and it is about your professional field.  Otherwise, you can post link to your blog articles to your news feed as status messages or to groups; as with twitter, in some cases this can be done automatically (for example, links to posts on my blog are automatically fed into the Bright Business Thoughts group).

Social Bookmarking. There are a number of social bookmarking sitesyou can use. Links to blog articles are posted to Digg, Stumbleupon, or Delicious, in the appropriate category, where they are available for any subscriber to view and vote on.  The more votes a post gets, the higher in the rankings, the more people will take a look at it. I don’t use all of these for every post; it depends on how important I feel it is, or how relevant it is to the audience in each place (followers, friends, or contacts).  Without these means of promoting posts, however, I would not have an audience, and I might as well have stayed in the kitchen, making a cheese sandwich.

Nigel Legg is an independent social media monitoring, measuring, and marketing consultant based in Bristol, UK.