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Methodology

  • 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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difference between project and case study

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.

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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difference between project and case study

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

difference between project and case study

  • 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.

difference between project and case study

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.

difference between project and case study

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.

difference between project and case study

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.

difference between project and case study

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.

difference between project and case study

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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

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.

Argumentation

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

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.

difference between project and case study

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.

difference between project and case study

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  • Knowledge Base
  • Methodology
  • Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods

Published on 5 May 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 30 January 2023.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject, such as a person, group, place, event, organisation, 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 analyse the case.

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 in the US
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

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.

If you find yourself aiming to simultaneously investigate and solve an issue, consider conducting action research . As its name suggests, action research conducts research and takes action at the same time, and is highly iterative and flexible. 

However, you can also choose a more common or representative case to exemplify a particular category, experience, or phenomenon.

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 .

The aim is to gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the case and its context.

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 analyse 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.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, January 30). Case Study | Definition, Examples & Methods. Scribbr. Retrieved 24 June 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/case-studies/

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difference between project and case study

How to Write a Case Study - All You Wanted to Know

difference between project and case study

What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.

What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?

While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.

Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.

The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.

Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:

Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.

Types of Case Studies

The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:

Types of Case Studies

  • Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
  • Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
  • Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
  • Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
  • Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.

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Case Study Format

The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:

  • Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
  • Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
  • Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
  • Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
  • Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
  • Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
  • References. Provide all the citations.

How to Write a Case Study

Let's discover how to write a case study.

How to Write a Case Study

Setting Up the Research

When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:

  • Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
  • Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
  • Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
  • Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
  • Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.

Read Also: ' WHAT IS A CREDIBLE SOURCES ?'

Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:

  • Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
  • Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
  • Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
  • Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
  • Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
  • Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
  • Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.

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Case Study Outline

Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.

Introduction

  • Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
  • Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
  • Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
  • Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
  • Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
  • Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
  • Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
  • Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
  • Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
  • Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
  • Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
  • Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.

Writing a Case Study Draft

After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:

How to Write a Case Study

📝 Step 📌 Description
1. Draft Structure 🖋️ Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
2. Introduction 📚 In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
3. Research Process 🔍 Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
4. Quotes and Data 💬 Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
5. Offer Solutions 💡 At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.

Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study

Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :

‍ With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.

Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.

Finalizing the Draft: Checklist

After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:

  • Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
  • Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
  • Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
  • Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?

Problems to avoid:

  • Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
  • Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
  • Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.

How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study

Let's see how to create an awesome title page.

Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:

  • A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
  • The title should have the words “case study” in it
  • The title should range between 5-9 words in length
  • Your name and contact information
  • Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length.With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff

Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:

There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.

Citation Example in MLA ‍ Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA ‍ Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.

Case Study Examples

To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.

Eastman Kodak Case Study

Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany

To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .

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What Is A Case Study?

How to cite a case study in apa, how to write a case study.

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Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

difference between project and case study

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A case study focuses on a particular unit - a person, a site, a project. It often uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data.

Case studies can be particularly useful for understanding how different elements fit together and how different elements (implementation, context and other factors) have produced the observed impacts.

There are different types of case studies, which can be used for different purposes in evaluation. The GAO (Government Accountability Office) has described six different types of case study:

1.  Illustrative : This is descriptive in character and intended to add realism and in-depth examples to other information about a program or policy. (These are often used to complement quantitative data by providing examples of the overall findings).

2.  Exploratory : This is also descriptive but is aimed at generating hypotheses for later investigation rather than simply providing illustration.

3.  Critical instance : This examines a single instance of unique interest, or serves as a critical test of an assertion about a program, problem or strategy.

4.  Program implementation . This  investigates operations, often at several sites, and often with reference to a set of norms or standards about implementation processes.

5.  Program effects . This examines the causal links between the program and observed effects (outputs, outcomes or impacts, depending on the timing of the evaluation) and usually involves multisite, multimethod evaluations.

6.  Cumulative . This brings together findings from many case studies to answer evaluative questions. 

The following guides are particularly recommended because they distinguish between the research design (case study) and the type of data (qualitative or quantitative), and provide guidance on selecting cases, addressing causal inference, and generalizing from cases.

This guide from the US General Accounting Office outlines good practice in case study evaluation and establishes a set of principles for applying case studies to evaluations.

This paper, authored by Edith D. Balbach for the California Department of Health Services is designed to help evaluators decide whether to use a case study evaluation approach.

This guide, written by Linda G. Morra and Amy C. Friedlander for the World Bank, provides guidance and advice on the use of case studies.

Expand to view all resources related to 'Case study'

  • Broadening the range of designs and methods for impact evaluations
  • Case studies in action
  • Case study evaluations - US General Accounting Office
  • Case study evaluations - World Bank
  • Comparative case studies
  • Dealing with paradox – Stories and lessons from the first three years of consortium-building
  • Designing and facilitating creative conversations & learning activities
  • Estudo de caso: a avaliação externa de um programa
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  • Reflections on innovation, assessment and social change processes: A SPARC case study, India
  • Toward a listening bank: A review of best practices and the efficacy of beneficiary assessment
  • UNICEF webinar: Comparative case studies
  • Using case studies to do program evaluation

'Case study' is referenced in:

  • Week 32: Better use of case studies in evaluation

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Writing a Case Study

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tiertiary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Essays
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Bibliography

The term case study refers to both a method of analysis and a specific research design for examining a problem, both of which are used in most circumstances to generalize across populations. This tab focuses on the latter--how to design and organize a research paper in the social sciences that analyzes a specific case.

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or among more than two subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies . Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in this writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a single case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • Does the case represent an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • Does the case provide important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • Does the case challenge and offer a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in practice. A case may offer you an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to the study a case in order to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • Does the case provide an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings in order to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • Does the case offer a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for exploratory research that points to a need for further examination of the research problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of Uganda. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a particular village can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community throughout rural regions of east Africa. The case could also point to the need for scholars to apply feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation.

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work. In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What was I studying? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why was this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the research problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would include summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to study the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in the context of explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular subject of analysis to study and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that frames your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; c) what were the consequences of the event.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experience he or she has had that provides an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of his/her experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using him or her as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, cultural, economic, political, etc.], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, why study Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research reveals Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks from overseas reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should be linked to the findings from the literature review. Be sure to cite any prior studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for investigating the research problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is more common to combine a description of the findings with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps to support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings It is important to remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations for the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and needs for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1)  restate the main argument supported by the findings from the analysis of your case; 2) clearly state the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place for you to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in and your professor's preferences, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented applied to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were on social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood differently than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis.

Case Studies . Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical (context-dependent) knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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Top 20 Project Management Case Studies [With Examples]

Top 20 Project Management Case Studies [With Examples]

Project management case study analyses showcase and compare real-life project management processes and systems scenarios. These studies shed light on the common challenges that project managers encounter on a daily basis. This helps project managers develop effective strategies, overcome obstacles, and achieve successful results. 

By leveraging project management case studies , organisations can optimise their operations by providing insights into the most effective approaches. With effective implementation of these case studies, strategies, and methodologies, ensuring successful project completion is achievable.

Criteria for Selection of Top 20 Case Studies

The top 20 case studies are selected based on significance, impact, challenges, project management strategies, and overall success. They provide diverse insights and lessons for project managers and organisations.

1. The Sydney Opera House Project

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The Sydney Opera House Project is an iconic example of project management case studies as it faced multiple challenges during its construction phase. Despite facing leadership changes, budget overruns, and design failures, the project persevered and was completed in 1973, a decade later than planned. The Opera House stands as a symbol of perseverance and successful project management in the face of humankind.

2. The Airbus A380 Project

The Airbus A380 Project is a project management case study showcasing the challenges encountered during developing and producing the world’s largest commercial aircraft. The project experienced massive delays and impacted costs of more than $6 billion, with several issues arising from the manufacturing and delivery process, outsourcing, and project coordination. 

However, the Airbus A380 was successfully launched through carefully planned project management strategies, delivering a world-class aircraft that met customer expectations.

3. The Panama Canal Expansion Project 

The Panama Canal Expansion Project serves as a compelling case study, illustrating the management’s encounters in expanding the capacity of the Panama Canal. The project included multiple stakeholders, technological innovations, environmental concerns, and safety challenges. 

4. The Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project

The Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project serves as a project management case study of a large-scale underground tunnel construction project. It successfully addressed traffic congestion and was completed in 2007. The project was completed in 2007, with numerous hurdles delaying progress like complexity, technology failure, ballooning budgets, media scrutiny, etc.

5. The London 2012 Olympics Project

The London 2012 Olympics Project stands as a successful project management case study, showcasing the management of a large-scale international sporting event. This project involved the construction of a new sports infrastructure, event logistics and security concerns. The project was successfully accomplished, delivering a world-class event that captivated the audience.

6. The Hoover Dam Bypass Project

The Hoover Dam Bypass Project was a construction project in the United States of America that intended to alleviate traffic from the Hoover Dam by building a new bridge. Completed in 2010, the bridge spans across the Colorado River, connecting Arizona and Nevada and offers a safer and more efficient route for motorists.

7. The Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project

The Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project is a case study example constructed in San Francisco, California. Its objective was to enhance the bridge’s resilience against earthquakes and aftershocks. Completed in 2012, the project included the installation of shock absorbers and other seismic upgrades to ensure the bridge’s safety and functionality in the event of a major earthquake.

8. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Project

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge Project is a massive case study that intends to connect Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau with a bridge-tunnel system of 55 kilometres. Completed in 2018, the project required massive funds, investments and innovative engineering solutions, providing a new transport link and boosting regional connectivity.

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9. The Panama Papers Investigation Project

The Panama Papers Investigation Project is a global case study of journalistic investigations into offshore tax havens. It involved leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. Coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the project resulted in major political and financial repercussions worldwide, garnering widespread media attention.

10. The Apple iPhone Development Project

The Apple iPhone Development Project started in 2004, aiming to create a groundbreaking mobile device. In 2007, the iPhone transformed the industry with its innovative touchscreen interface, sleek design, and advanced features. This project involved significant research, development, marketing, and supply chain management investments.

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11. The Ford Pinto Design and Launch Project

The Ford Pinto Design and Launch Project was a developmental project intended to create an affordable, fuel-efficient subcompact car. Launched in 1971, because of its fuel tank design, it became infamous for safety issues. The project was rigged for ethical and safety concerns, lawsuits, and recalls.

12. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response Project

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response Project was a response to the largest oil spill in US history, caused by an offshore drilling rig explosion in 2010. This crisis response project utilised a waterfall project management approach, where the project team followed a pattern of planning, executing, monitoring, and closing phases. 

13. The NASA Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster Project

  The NASA Challenger Disaster Project was a tragic space exploration mission in 1986, resulting in the loss of all seven crew members. Extensive investigations revealed design and safety flaws as the cause. This disaster prompted NASA to address decision-making processes and improve safety cultures.

14. The Three Gorges Dam Project

  The Three Gorges Dam Project was a large-scale infrastructure project developed in China that aimed to build the world’s largest hydroelectric dam on the Yangtze River. Completed in 2012, it encountered environmental, social, and engineering challenges. The dam currently offers power generation, flood control, and improved navigation, but it has also resulted in ecological and cultural consequences.

15. The Big Dig Project in Boston

The Big Dig Project was a transportation infrastructure project in Boston, Massachusetts, intended to replace an old elevated highway with a newer tunnel system. Completed in 2007, it serves as one of the most complex and costly construction endeavours in US history. Despite facing many delays, cost overruns and engineering challenges, the project successfully improved traffic flow and urban aesthetics but also resulted in accidents, lawsuits, and financial burdens.

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16. The Uber Disruptive Business Model Project

  The Uber Disruptive Business Model Project was a startup that introduced a new ride business model that disrupted the taxi-cab industry by connecting riders with drivers via a mobile app. Launched in 2010, this project required innovative technology, marketing and regulatory strategies and faced legal actions and ethical challenges related to labour, safety, and competition. Uber has since then dominated the market with its ride-sharing business plan.

17. The Netflix Original Content Development Project

The Netflix Original Content Development Project was an initiative created to launch its original content for its platform. This launch by the online streaming giant in 2012 was a huge success for the company. The project required huge investments in content creation, distribution and marketing and resulted in award-winning shows and films that redefined the entire entertainment industry’s business model.

18. The Tesla Electric Car Project

The Tesla Electric Car Project was a revolutionary project that aimed to compete for its electric vehicles with gasoline-powered vehicles. The project required a strong project management plan that incorporated innovation, sustainability, and stakeholder engagement, resulting in the successful launch of the Tesla Roadster in 2008 and subsequent models. Tesla has one-handedly revolutionised the entire automobile industry on its own. 

19. The Johnson & Johnson Tylenol Crisis Management Project:

The Johnson & Johnson Tylenol Crisis Management Project was a case study in crisis management in 1982. The project required quick and effective decision-making skills, stakeholder communication, and ethical leadership in response to the tampering of Tylenol capsules that led to deaths. 

20. The Airbnb Online Marketplace Platform Project  

The Airbnb Online Marketplace Platform Project was a startup that created an online platform which connected travellers with hosts offering short-term rental accommodations in flights. The project required innovative technology, user experience design and stakeholder management. Airbnb’s success has led to the disruption of the hospitality industry and inspired many other project case study examples of sharing economy platforms.

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Future Developments in Project Management

Future developments in project management include all the insights on the increased use of artificial intelligence, agile methodologies, hybrid project management approaches, and emphasis on sustainability and social responsibility, along with many more developing ideas that will address the evolving market innovations. 

Key Takeaways from the Case Studies

The project management case study examples illustrate real-life examples and the importance of project management in achieving project success. The cases show the use of innovative technologies, tools, techniques, stakeholder engagement, crisis management, and agile methodologies. 

Project Management also highlights the role of ethical leadership and social responsibility in project management. To learn more and more about case studies, upGrad, India’s leading education platform, has offered an Advanced General Management Program from IMT Ghaziabad that will equip you with in-demand management skills to keep up with the changing trends!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Project Management is extensive planning, executing, monitoring and closing of a project before its deadline. Project management ensures accuracy and efficiency across all organs of a project, right from its inception to its completion.

Project Management case studies are real-life examples of projects to put an insight into all the tools, techniques and methodologies it provides.

The role of a project manager is to ensure that all day-to-day responsibilities are being met by the resources deployed in a certain project. They have the authority to manage as well as lead the functioning members as well.

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difference between project and case study

Case Studies & Project Stories

Projects Create Case Studies

There is a difference between a project story and a case study. 

The Case Study is short, to the point, and in less than 5 minutes tell you the Problem, Solution and Results. 

The Project Story is more.  We use stories to illustrate the journey of the projects we worked.  We go into more detail, with drawings and photographs to illustrate the work. 

difference between project and case study

Case Studies

When you specialize in difficult and complex problems for as long as I have, you end up with a long list of lessons learned, both defeat and victory.  The best solutions are the small ones that are all over a physical operation.  The small solutions don't make a lot of change on their own, but when there are a lot of them, big changes to the good happen.

As some of my cohorts that I partner with on large projects agree, there is money lying on the floor of most manufacturing and distribution operations.  A few thousand over here, a few more over there, and before long you have a nice sized return.   For some clients, we find enough wasted money in their operations to cover the investment needed to make bigger changes. 

Read our case studies to find ideas you could execute in your operations.  Taking on an incremental improvement project each quarter will create positive cashflow for the small business, and enhanced promotion for the corporate manager.   

difference between project and case study

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What is a Project?  It is an enterprise - a significant effort - to achieve a  particular goal.  Projects can be individual, but most projects are collaborative.  

The best projects are collaborative.

We work closely with our clients in collaborative enterprise, carefully designing, planning, and executing projects to achieve our client's desired outcomes.  Projects contain stories of challenge, risk, work, conflict, failure, and victory.  

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difference between project and case study

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Case Study vs. Experiment

What's the difference.

Case studies and experiments are both research methods used in various fields to gather data and draw conclusions. However, they differ in their approach and purpose. A case study involves in-depth analysis of a particular individual, group, or situation, aiming to provide a detailed understanding of a specific phenomenon. On the other hand, an experiment involves manipulating variables and observing the effects on a sample population, aiming to establish cause-and-effect relationships. While case studies provide rich qualitative data, experiments provide quantitative data that can be statistically analyzed. Ultimately, the choice between these methods depends on the research question and the desired outcomes.

AttributeCase StudyExperiment
Research MethodQualitativeQuantitative
ObjectiveDescriptiveCausal
Sample SizeSmallLarge
Controlled VariablesLess controlledHighly controlled
Manipulation of VariablesNot manipulatedManipulated
Data CollectionObservations, interviews, surveysMeasurements, surveys, experiments
Data AnalysisQualitative analysisStatistical analysis
GeneralizabilityLess generalizableMore generalizable
TimeframeLongerShorter

Further Detail

Introduction.

When conducting research, there are various methods available to gather data and analyze phenomena. Two commonly used approaches are case study and experiment. While both methods aim to provide insights and answers to research questions, they differ in their design, implementation, and the type of data they generate. In this article, we will explore the attributes of case study and experiment, highlighting their strengths and limitations.

A case study is an in-depth investigation of a particular individual, group, or phenomenon. It involves collecting and analyzing detailed information from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, documents, and archival records. Case studies are often used in social sciences, psychology, and business research to gain a deep understanding of complex and unique situations.

One of the key attributes of a case study is its ability to provide rich and detailed data. Researchers can gather a wide range of information, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the case. This depth of data enables researchers to explore complex relationships, identify patterns, and generate new hypotheses.

Furthermore, case studies are particularly useful when studying rare or unique phenomena. Since they focus on specific cases, they can provide valuable insights into situations that are not easily replicated or observed in controlled experiments. This attribute makes case studies highly relevant in fields where generalizability is not the primary goal.

However, it is important to note that case studies have limitations. Due to their qualitative nature, the findings may lack generalizability to broader populations or contexts. The small sample size and the subjective interpretation of data can also introduce bias. Additionally, case studies are time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring extensive data collection and analysis.

An experiment is a research method that involves manipulating variables and measuring their effects on outcomes. It aims to establish cause-and-effect relationships by controlling and manipulating independent variables while keeping other factors constant. Experiments are commonly used in natural sciences, psychology, and medicine to test hypotheses and determine the impact of specific interventions or treatments.

One of the key attributes of an experiment is its ability to establish causal relationships. By controlling variables and randomly assigning participants to different conditions, researchers can confidently attribute any observed effects to the manipulated variables. This attribute allows for strong internal validity, making experiments a powerful tool for drawing causal conclusions.

Moreover, experiments often provide quantitative data, allowing for statistical analysis and objective comparisons. This attribute enhances the precision and replicability of findings, enabling researchers to draw more robust conclusions. The ability to replicate experiments also contributes to the cumulative nature of scientific knowledge.

However, experiments also have limitations. They are often conducted in controlled laboratory settings, which may limit the generalizability of findings to real-world contexts. Ethical considerations may also restrict the manipulation of certain variables or the use of certain interventions. Additionally, experiments can be time-consuming and costly, especially when involving large sample sizes or long-term follow-ups.

While case studies and experiments have distinct attributes, they can complement each other in research. Case studies provide in-depth insights and a rich understanding of complex phenomena, while experiments offer controlled conditions and the ability to establish causal relationships. By combining these methods, researchers can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the research question at hand.

When deciding between case study and experiment, researchers should consider the nature of their research question, the available resources, and the desired level of control and generalizability. Case studies are particularly suitable when exploring unique or rare phenomena, aiming for depth rather than breadth, and when resources allow for extensive data collection and analysis. On the other hand, experiments are ideal for establishing causal relationships, testing specific hypotheses, and when control over variables is crucial.

In conclusion, case study and experiment are two valuable research methods with their own attributes and limitations. Both approaches contribute to the advancement of knowledge in various fields, and their selection depends on the research question, available resources, and desired outcomes. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each method, researchers can make informed decisions and conduct rigorous and impactful research.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.

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Assessment by Case Studies and Scenarios

Case studies depict real-life situations in which problems need to be solved. Scenario-based teaching may be similar to case studies, or may be oriented toward developing communication or teamwork skills. Both case studies and scenarios are commonly used methods of problem-based learning. Typically, using these methods, teachers aim to develop student reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making skills. Case studies differ from role plays in that in the former, learning takes place largely through discussion and analysis, whereas in the latter, students assume a character or role and "act out" what that character would do in the scenario (The Teaching Gateway page Assessing with Role Plays and Simulations contains more information on using role plays for assessments.) Like role plays and simulations, case studies and scenarios aim for authenticity:  allowing students to get a sense of the situations they might face in the real world upon graduation. Students can see how their learning and skills can be applied in a real-world situation, without the pressure of being actually involved in that situation with the associated constraints on research, discussion and reflection time.

Case studies and scenarios are particularly useful when they present situations are complex and solutions are uncertain. Ideally, their complexity requires group members to draw from and share their experiences, work together, and learn by doing to understand and help solve the case-study problem.

You can present a single case to several groups in a class and require each group to offer its solutions, or you can give a different case to each group or individual.

Case studies' effectiveness comes from their abiliity to:

  • engage students in research and reflective discussion
  • encourage clinical and professional reasoning in a safe environment
  • encourage higher-order thinking
  • facilitate creative problem solving and the application of different problem-solving theories without risk to third parties or projects
  • allow students to develop realistic solutions to complex problems
  • develop students' ability to identify and distinguish between critical and extraneous factors
  • enable students to apply previously acquired skills
  • allow students to learn from one another
  • provide an effective simulated learning environment
  • encourage practical reasoning
  • allow you to assess individuals or teams.

You can use case studies to bridge the gap between teacher-centred lectures and pure problem-based learning. They leave room for you to guide students directly, while the scenarios themselves suggest how students should operate, and provide parameters for their work.

Although some students have reported greater satisfaction with simulations as learning tools than with case studies (Maamari & El-Nakla, 2023), case studies generally require less up-front preparation time, and can be less intimidating for students.

To make case studies an effective form of assessment, instructors and tutors need to be familiar with their use in both teaching and assessment. This applies whether teachers are developing the case studies for their courses themselves or using those developed by others.

Case studies reach their highest effectiveness as a teaching and assessment tool when they are authentic; ensuring that case studies accurately reflect the circumstances in which a student will eventually be practising professionally can require a considerable amount of research, as well as the potential involvement of industry professionals.

Students may need scaffolding as they learn how to problem-solve in the context of case studies; using case studies as low-stakes, formative assessments can prepare them for summative assessment by case study at the end of the course.

Learning outcomes, course outlines, and marking rubrics need to be entirely clear about how case studies will be used in the course and how students will be expected to demonstrate their learning through thee way they analyse and problem-solve in the context of case studies.

Assessment preparation

Typically, the product assessed after case study or scenario work is a verbal presentation or a written submission. Decide who will take part in the assessment: the tutor, an industry specialist, a panel, peer groups or students themselves by self-evaluation? Choose whether to give a class or group mark or to assess individual performance; and whether to assess the product yourself or have it assessed by peers.

Assessment strategies

You can assess students’ interaction with other members of a group by asking open-ended questions, and setting tasks that require teamwork and sharing resources.

Assess the process of analysis

Case studies allow you to assess a student’s demonstration of deeper understanding and cognitive skills as they address the case.  These skills include, for example:

  • identification of a problem
  • hypotheses generation
  • construction of an enquiry plan
  • interpretation of findings
  • investigation of results collected for evidence to refine a hypothesis and construction of a management plan.

During the problem-solving process, you can also observe and evaluate:

  • quality of research
  • structural issues in written material
  • organisation of arguments
  • feasibility of solutions presented
  • intra-group dynamics
  • evidence of consideration of all case factors
  • multiple resolutions of the same scenario issue.

Use a variety of questions in case analysis

The Questioning page discusses in detail various ways to use questions in teaching . If your students are using the Harvard Business School case study method for their analysis, use a range of question types to enable the class to move through the stages of analysis:

  • clarification/information seeking ( What? )
  • analysis/diagnosis ( Why? )
  • conclusion/recommendation ( What now? )
  • implementation ( How? ) and
  • application/reflection ( So what? What does it mean to you?)

Use technology

Learning-management systems such as Moodle can help you track contributions to case discussions . You can assess students' interactions with other members of a group by viewing their responses to open-ended questions or observing their teamwork and sharing of resources as part of the discussion.  You can incorporate the use of various tools in these systems, or others such as Survey Monkey, into students' assessment of their peers, or of their group members' contribution to exploring and presenting case studies. You can also set this peer assessment up so that it takes place anonymously.

Assessing by Case Studies: UNSW examples

These videos show examples of how UNSW faculty have implemented case studies in their own courses.

  • Boston University. Using Case Studies to Teach
  • Columbia University. Case Method Teaching and Learning
  • Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College. Starting Point: What is Investigative Case-Based Learning?

Maamari, B. E., & El-Nakla, D. (2023). From case studies to experiential learning. Is simulation an effective tool for student assessment? Arab Economic and Business Journal, 15(1), Article 2. https://doi.org/10.38039/2214-4625.1023

Merret, C. (2020). Using case studies and build projects as authentic assessments in cornerstone courses. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education , 50 (1), 20-50. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306419020913286

Porzecanski, A. L., Bravo, A., Groom, M. J., Dávalos, L. M., Bynum, N., Abraham, B. J., Cigliano, J. A., Griffiths, C., Stokes, D. L., Cawthorn, M., Fernandez, D. S., Freeman,  L., Leslie, T., Theodose, T., Vogler, D., & Sterling, E. J. (2021). Using case studies to improve the critical thinking skills of undergraduate conservation biology students. Case Studies in the Environment , 5 (1), 1536396. https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2021.1536396

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ESI.info Help Centre

Find out the difference between Case Studies and Projects

Suzanne Gillespie avatar

On ESI.info a case study entry is written up in a structured way giving 3 sections for the entry write-up: the challenge / what you did / the outcome and benefits.

A project on the other hand has a looser format with the options to customise your own headers and create your own structure.

If you are unsure, we generally say write your entry up as a project as it's easier! ​ There is no difference between a Case Study and Project on live entries on ESI.info; this is only relevant to how you set the entry up in the Content Management System.

Watch this short video to see what the difference is when you set the entry up in the Content Management System.

Dissertation Versus Project Study: What’s the Difference?

There are alternatives to writing a dissertation. One of these is a project study, or an applied study. Most students in advanced studies have a general idea of what a dissertation is, but fewer people know what a project study is. It is good to know the difference between a dissertation and a project study before you make the choice to pursue one or the other. If you have already chosen a project study, however, and are still not sure what it entails, this blog may help you.

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Most of us know that a dissertation is an extended piece of research. A typical structure for a dissertation in the social sciences is five chapters: introduction, literature review, methodology, results, and discussion. A central feature of the dissertation is the research problem. The research problem is the impetus for conducting a study: there is inconclusiveness about a topic in the literature or a gap in our understanding of a phenomenon. This inconclusiveness or gap serves as a rationale for conducting the study and drives the research questions, which are designed to collect information to add to our understanding of the topic.

The key difference between a project study and a dissertation is that a project study does not proceed from a research problem. The purpose of a project study is not to add to our understanding of research on a topic. The purpose of a project study is to help solve an existing local real-world problem, which is why project studies are also called applied studies. The purpose of a project study is to collect information to help address an identifiable problem in a specific setting.

difference between project and case study

Let’s say, for example, graduation rates at a particular high school are lower than state and national averages. Low graduation rates, likely the result of dropout, would be the specific local problem. A project study would be appropriate to collect information on how to address the problem of low graduation rates at that school. Information collected from the study culminates in an applied document, such as policy recommendations, curricular design, or a program evaluation. The applied document is a key feature of the project study and offers evidenced-based ways to address the local problem.

Featured image for the article What is the Difference between a Use Case and a Case Study?

What is the Difference between a Use Case and a Case Study?

difference between project and case study

  • March 3, 2022
  • Using Case Studies

Use Cases and Case Studies are similar types of B2B content that both sales and marketing teams love. However, they possess some key differences, which this article identifies.

What Is a Case Study?

A Case Study describes in detail the transformations and successes of your client that are all thanks to you. It identifies the situation the client was in before partnering with your company and adopting your solution. It showcases the results the client experienced, such as increasing revenue or saving time. In short, Case Studies allow readers to really put themselves in your client’s position and fully understand how meaningful your product or service really is to your customers.

What Is a Use Case?

Creating a Use Case is the perfect solution if you can’t create a Case Study. (For example, perhaps your clients aren’t yet seeing long-term results from your product or service.) This type of content doesn’t showcase a single client’s success. Instead, your offering is the star. This content will explain in detail what your product or service will do for clients in a certain predicament and what kinds of results and benefits they should expect to see.

Click here to read an example of a Use Case we’ve created for one of our clients.

How Are Case Studies and Use Cases Similar?

Marketing and sales teams highly value Use Cases and Case Studies because both documents achieve the same objectives. They are polished pieces of content that salespeople can use to persuade prospects. They feature content that can be used in marketing and advertising campaigns or teased on social media platforms . Furthermore, they both build confidence in your brand. All these factors lead to a boost in your revenue, leads, and customers’ trust.

Whether you need a Use Case or a Case Study, SuccessKit can help. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more about us, our process, and what we can do for you.

difference between project and case study

Stef Mates, SuccessKit's Creative Director, has been writing, designing, editing, and managing a variety of content types for several different industries for more than 15 years. She started at the company as a freelancer in November 2019 and became an official part of the team in June 2021.

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Milo Sindell President, Skyline G

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“Quality results. Authentic storytelling and quotes. Easy to work with. I’m signing up for more.”

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“I love working with the SuccessKit team because they make it really easy for me to focus on my business while they produce Case Studies that drive our brand forward.”

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Case Study vs. White Paper: What’s the Difference?

Picture of Morgan Norris

Creating high quality, helpful content at a regular cadence is key to generating inbound leads for your technical business. Case studies and white papers are two of the most powerful and sought-after types of content by engineers, and both can help you generate technical leads for your business.

But how do you decide on a white paper versus a case study, and what’s the difference?

Case Study vs White Paper_ Whats the Difference

According to our State of Marketing to Engineers Research Report , white papers and case studies are viewed as highly valuable when it comes to researching engineering trends, technologies and products/services.

What form(s) of content do you find most valuable when researching to make a significant work-related purchase? Please select all that apply.  (n = 699)

ContentPref_Pg13

While we recommend creating both white papers and case studies as part of a robust content plan , the two content types serve different purposes, funnel stages and audiences.

White Papers

A white paper helps a reader understand an issue, solve a problem, or make a decision by offering technical information, images and diagrams. It’s a lengthy piece of content at approximately 2,000 words or 6 pages. 

White papers are at the heart of a strong B2B content marketing plan, and seek to build thought leadership in an area that aligns with your marketing or campaign strategy. A white paper addresses your target audience’s pain points, similarly to a case study, but goes deeper into explaining the research and proof points to support your methodology.

White papers can be an effective way to target people at all stages of the funnel. One white paper could create awareness of a persona’s problem, thus targeting someone at the top of the funnel, while a second could focus on advanced product uses, targeting someone at the bottom of the funnel or even an existing customer. 

Best Practices: 

  • A table of contents if it’s longer than 3,000 words
  • A bold title (i.e. controversial, lessons learned), ideally 55 characters so it will display well in search engines
  • Descriptive text and not industry buzz words, and ensure you spell out acronyms on first occurrence
  • An abstract and executive summary
  • Use data to support your point(s)
  • Cite all research sources

As this is lengthy content, it can often take up to six weeks to write and complete a white paper. Start with an outline and review it with your team internally to ensure alignment on the objectives.

  • Promote them on your website
  • Blog about them
  • Repurpose them into slide decks and deliver them as live or on-demand webinars for added impact and thought leadership

As valuable, in-depth technical content, white papers should also be gated by forms. When building out the form, consider how valuable the content is to the potential reader, and select fields that reflect that. Forms perform best when they include 3-5 fields, and stick to work email, name and company name. Learn more about best practices for gating content .

You should take care to keep white papers up-to-date to maintain technical accuracy and credibility. Typically, a white paper has a lifespan of 1-2 years before it needs to be updated, but this can vary by industry.

White Paper Example

White paper example

Case Studies

A case study teaches by example, featuring extended testimonials on how a product or service helped a customer in the real world. It’s considerably shorter than a white paper, typically measuring around 800 words.

  • Benefits-oriented headline
  • One-sentence challenge with one-sentence solution
  • Up to 1,000 words explaining how your products and/or services solved the challenge
  • Illustrations, images, charts/graphs with captions

Specific results data as proof points (i.e. money savings, decreased time to market

Case studies are best suited for audiences at the top or middle of the funnel. Use them to create awareness of a problem and show the reader a solution that worked for a real-life customer - with case studies, you highlight your successes in a way that will help an ideal potential customer come one step closer to becoming a new customer. 

  • Share an image and caption on social media with a link to your website to read the full case study
  • Submit them for trade show paper contests
  • Repurpose them into news releases or videos
  • Use them as sales enablement content at onsite visits and trade shows.

Case Study Example-1

Example case study from TREW client G Systems

Be sure to keep the focus 90% educational and 10% promotional and lead with benefits that speak to your target customer’s pain points, versus a product or services pitch . Due to this focus, and the shorter form, case studies are not typically gated by a form.

Case studies can be time-consuming, often requiring internal approvals from the customer and deep research. Due to the increased number of involved parties, putting together a case study can be slow going and may require an extended timeline. Their shelf life does tend to be longer than that of a white paper, remaining effective for 2+ years before requiring updates.

difference between project and case study

See this blog post for more information on a recommended content cadence.

Ready to get started? Review your B2B buyer personas and content plan and identify any gaps that could be met by a case study or white paper. Start slow, and work up to producing one of each per quarter to steadily generate leads for your company.

For more information on building out your content plan, read our guide to Getting Started with Content Marketing . 

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TREW is a marketing agency dedicated to reaching engineering and technical audiences through a range of marketing initiatives.   Contact us   today to learn more about the services we offer. 

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difference between project and case study

About TREW Marketing

TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.

Understanding the Differences Between Dissertation, Thesis, and Capstone Projects

This article explains the key differences between dissertation, thesis, and capstone projects, and offers insights into how to approach each project to ensure academic success.

If you're pursuing an advanced degree, you may be required to complete a dissertation, thesis, or capstone project as part of your program. While these projects share some similarities, there are also important differences to understand.

A dissertation is typically required for a doctoral degree, while a thesis is required for a master's degree. Both involve extensive research, data collection and analysis, and a written report that contributes to the body of knowledge in the field of study. A capstone project, on the other hand, is typically a culminating project required for a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. It may involve original research, but can also take the form of a creative project or a community service project.

Dissertation: A dissertation is a research project required to complete a doctoral degree program. It is a comprehensive study that contributes to the existing body of knowledge in the field of study. A dissertation typically involves original research, data collection and analysis, and a written report that is expected to make a significant contribution to the field of study.

Thesis: A thesis is a research project required to complete a master's degree program. It is usually a shorter and less complex study compared to a dissertation. A thesis may involve original research, but it can also be a literature review, a case study, or a critical analysis of existing research in the field of study.

Capstone: A capstone is a culminating project required to complete a degree program. It is typically undertaken in the final year of study and integrates the knowledge and skills gained throughout the program. A capstone can take various forms, such as a research project, a creative work, or a community service project. It is designed to demonstrate the student's ability to apply what they have learned to real-world problems.

To successfully complete a dissertation, thesis, or capstone project, it's important to have a clear understanding of the project's purpose and requirements. For example, a dissertation will require a more extensive literature review, data collection, and data analysis than a thesis or capstone project. A thesis may require more original research than a capstone project, but less than a dissertation.

In addition, it's important to work closely with your advisor or instructor throughout the project to ensure that you are meeting the requirements and expectations. You may also want to consider seeking out additional resources, such as writing support or statistical analysis services, to help you complete the project successfully.

By understanding the differences between dissertation, thesis, and capstone projects, and approaching each project with a clear plan and support, you can successfully complete your degree program and contribute to the body of knowledge in your field. In summary, a dissertation is a research project required to complete a doctoral degree program, a thesis is a research project required to complete a master's degree program, and a capstone is a culminating project required to complete a degree program.

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HBR On Strategy podcast series

Why Project-Based Work Fails — and How to Get It Right

If your team is prioritizing project-based work, this episode is for you.

  • Apple Podcasts

Companies of every size across the world are basing more of their work around projects than at any time in the past. But research shows that nearly two-thirds of those efforts fail.

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez , who has studied projects and project management for decades, argues that at least some of the blame for these failures lies with executives who misunderstand the fundamentals of projects and fail to dedicate enough of their time to those they sponsor.

In this episode, Nieto-Rodriguez explains how to get better outcomes from project-based work. He also discusses how to frame projects, structure organizations around them, and avoid common pitfalls.

Key episode topics include: strategy, project management, operations strategy, organizational change.

HBR On Strategy curates the best case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, to help you unlock new ways of doing business. New episodes every week.

  • Listen to the full HBR IdeaCast episode: The Future of Work Is Projects—So You’ve Got to Get Them Right (2021)
  • Find more episodes of HBR IdeaCast
  • Discover 100 years of Harvard Business Review articles, case studies, podcasts, and more at HBR.org

HANNAH BATES: Welcome to HBR On Strategy, case studies and conversations with the world’s top business and management experts, hand-selected to help you unlock new ways of doing business.

Companies of every size, in every industry across the world are basing more of their work around projects than any time in the past. But research shows that nearly two-thirds of those efforts fail.

Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, who has studied projects and project management for decades, argues that at least some of the blame for these failures lies with executives – who misunderstand the fundamentals of projects and fail to dedicate enough of their time to the projects they sponsor.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to get better outcomes from project-based work. You’ll also learn how to frame projects, structure organizations around them, and avoid key pitfalls.

If your team is taking on project-based work or if you’re leading a new project, this episode is for you. It originally aired on HBR IdeaCast in November 2021. Here it is.

ALISON BEARD: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review. I’m Alison Beard. If the 20th century was all about operational efficiency in businesses, the 21st century is all about organizational change. And how do new initiatives, products and services, strategies or business models advance? Through project work. It’s what our guest today calls the project economy, and it’s estimated to generate $20 trillion in economic activity and employ 88 million people in project management related roles by 2027.

That’s across every industry and size of company in every part of the world, and yet research indicates that only 35% of projects are successful. At this increasingly critical business function, most of us are doing a pretty terrible job, so how do we get better at it going forward? Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez is the former chairman of the Project Management Institute, founder of Projects & Co. and the author of the HBR Project Management Handbook. He’s here to talk about emerging best practices for companies and the people in them. Antonio, welcome.

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Thank you, Alison. It’s a pleasure to be here.

ALISON BEARD: Project management seems like a clear idea, but how do you define it and think about it in a way that might be different than what people assume?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Well, I think one of the challenges with project management that I face personally in my career is that as soon as you talk project management, senior executives and people who are not experts in project management, they think, “Oh, this is something very technical, very tactical. It’s nothing for me,” so I’ve been facing that kind of discontent or disinterest in project management for 25 years. So, for me, I want to move out from that project management term and move it up into projects, and we all do projects. And for me, the definition is anything that has to deal with change, that’s projects. You can manage them through project management, Agile methods, design thinking, product management. But I want to really, I think we need to elevate and say, “Well, all what goes around change, that’s projects,” and we need to manage them.

ALISON BEARD: And how has project work changed over the past few decades?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Well, project work has changed in two big areas. One is on a macro level. I’ve been doing research, and of course we all talk about the Marshall Plan after the Second War and all the projects that came from U.S. funding to develop Europe, reconstruct Europe, that was about $13 billion. Then we talk about the financial crisis in 2008 and ’09, we were talking about $3 trillion of projects. And now after the pandemic, we’re talking about $15, $20 trillion of projects. I think the world will never see as many projects as what we’re going to see in the next decade. We need to reconstruct countries, healthcare systems, economies, so that’s from a macro perspective.

From a micro perspective, from the way work is organized in companies, in businesses, it has evolved significantly in the sense that so far, operations have been prime in most of the organizations over the past 80 years. That’s what I say, the world driven by efficiency, where most of the activities were around doing things cheaper, faster, more automated, more volumes. Companies have been organized for that. That’s why you have hierarchies, that’s where cultures like command and control have been in place and so on, but since a few years when artificial intelligence and robots are taking over a big chunk of operations, the type of work is shifted to project based. So, I think the biggest, biggest disruption that happens in the world of projects is what we’re experiencing now. A radical shift from operations to project based work.

ALISON BEARD: And that’s because projects are about sort of discovering the new innovating, and the pace of change is such in every industry now that every company needs to learn how to do this well?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely, and one of the challenges I have to admit, Alison, I’m a big of course, expert in project, a big advocate of project management, but our performance, like you mentioned in introduction, has been poor or appalling. I think project management has not delivered the expected results. We need to find better ways to addressing the change. The future 10 years ago maybe was five years from now, right? So, you would have a project that would last for three years expecting to get some benefits maybe in three, four years, a digital transformation, a new M&A activity, a new business unit, but today, the future is so fast.

So, your future is tomorrow, right? So, that means the acceleration of project based work has to go faster. Let me give you a quick example. Here in Brussels, they were setting, establishing a hospital from scratch, Greenfield, start of the construction in 2016, completion of the hospital in 2020. So, four years of construction, state of the art, but to my surprise, the hospital was open in 2018 before it was co completed. So, I think there’s no company in the world can wait four years to get any benefits from the projects. The future is now, and we need to address that. That’s why you see exploding the number of projects in organizations. I come across companies where they have more projects than people.

ALISON BEARD: And I do want to get to how to do it better, but first, that failure rate is so high. What are some of the most common challenges or problems that projects run into? Why are we getting it so wrong right now?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Let me highlight just three. First, I think senior leaders, they don’t have the competencies to be effective sponsorship. Over the years …

ALISON BEARD: They’re not going to like hearing that.

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: I’m sure. I’m sure, but I’m sorry. I always am hundred percent honest on both on my thinking, but I think sponsors have not realized the role is crucial in sponsoring projects. It’s not about how many projects you sponsor, that has been the kind of, “I sponsor 20 projects. I’m the most important person in this company.” Well, now it’s about less is more, and it has been proven. When you are an executive, the CEO, the VP, and you dedicate time to your project, time means not just one hour per month, but a half a day per week. If this is the future of your business, I don’t understand why senior leaders don’t dedicate so much time. They’re all driven by operations and day to day urgency so very few leaders make the space. And second, they don’t understand the fundamentals of projects.

Most of the executives come from a path marketing, finance, operation strategy, and it requires for them to understand that projects are different. That you work in projects in a matrix, that is not so much the hierarchical approach, but this team working and collaboration. So, it’s hard to give you a number, Alison, but I would say 30% to and 40% of the success of the project is if the senior leaders is engaged and understands and drives the project. Alison, the second point, I realized that in the area of change in projects, we are always running with all methods. It happened in the past with IT projects, I started implementing big ERP systems, we were trying to apply some very traditional project management.

It didn’t work. Then Agile came and said, “Well, now we are going to use Agile for every project,” and that, we see today with digital transformations, AI implementations, that doesn’t work. The failure keeps there. The third reason, so I think the role of the project manager, the project management profession has not taken ownership of the results. It has been very focused on process, very focused on documentation. It did make a lot of sense in the sixties, in the fifties where you would do a lot of public sector projects where you want to document everything, but I think the reason that the third reason for me is that project management didn’t evolve to embrace the new reality. And second, project managers have been more a deliver type of role.

In project management, we always said, “Well, who’s accountable for delivering the projects? Who’s accountable for delivering the benefits?” Right? Well, it’s the sponsor. We project managers were responsible of delivering the project on time, on budget, on scope, and that has been the cradle for project management for the last 40 years. And we’ve missed to focus on the outcomes. We’ve missed to focus on the benefits. We’ve missed to take accountability of the results. It’s easy to make a project charter, but what companies are looking for is delivering value, either financial, either social, either sustainability. So, I’m asking my community of project managers to step up, to take ownership, to say, “No, it’s not just the plan. It’s not just delivery on time. What matters actually even more is delivering the benefits, whatever they are, and faster, please.”

ALISON BEARD: So, for an organization that does have existing operations that need to be managed, but then also wants to pursue change and innovation through project work, how does that company change its structure or culture to be able to do both well?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Yeah. Well, great question, Alison. I’ve seen so many companies struggling because I’m not saying, “Let’s forget about what you’re doing right today. Let’s forget about that organization that you’ve built so successful for that world driven by efficiency with hierarchies, with yearly plans, with deep expertise, deep technical expertise,” but how can we address change? And change that’s going very fast and our products are just lasting less and less. In the past, we last five years, now five weeks or maybe five months. So, how can we mix that? And it’s a struggle. You cannot say, “Let’s forget my hierarchy and let’s move everything into flat teams and Agile structures and project basing.” That doesn’t work, so I think in the challenge for the leaders, the senior leaders, the executives, is finding that balance. And I always say you need to experiment.

You cannot just go and say, “Well, half of the organization is working without job descriptions. They’re all working project based.” I think my approach, my suggestion is, what are your top five projects? What are the five most important projects that your organization has to deliver? Extract those projects from your daily operations. Extract them. They should not be done by people working in operations. They should have a different structure. They should have a different culture. Put them aside, put them independent. They are own entities, and of course, strong sponsorship. Executives, you need to spend time on them. By extracting for those five top projects already, and moving out to that from that hierarchical structure, that operational activities, that you can see already, quite a lot of acceleration in the way you deliver projects.

ALISON BEARD: Often though, it seems as if particularly project leaders do have operational responsibilities as well, and then sort of, they’re expected to tack the project on top of that. So, how are companies that you work with navigating that balance? Are they giving the executives that time to take away for the project work?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Great, great question. This is really the core. One of the core problems I always raise when I do workshops with senior leaders is, how come you cannot extract people from your day to day job and put them in a project? It’s one of the biggest challenges that I see. Even companies which have 10,000 people, they are not able to free up 50 people to carry out the project. The best projects I’ve seen in a research, one of them, of course the iPhone, the first one which I research very much in detail, at that time, they were able to take the day to day people, the senior leader, the best people of Apple at that time and extract them for two years and a half to develop.

And people who were in the operations side said, “Well, I love to join this project, but who’s going to do my day to day activities?” And we were saying, “Don’t bother. Anybody can do your day to day activity. You have a deputy when you’re gone,” said, “We’ll put those people. We’ll promote them. We’ll create more talent, but you, you are the best person in these companies. How come you’re not working in the most strategic project in the future of your work?” Right? It doesn’t make sense, but companies struggle so much and there’s nothing worse that you can do, Alison, than have half time people working in your projects. I work one hour per week, then I work two days per week, then it’s a mess. It’s not how you deliver great projects. At least try to get the best people around.

ALISON BEARD: I think that makes sense when you sort of have a clear idea of what the future’s going to look like, and you know exactly which five projects are the most important, but isn’t the issue in many cases that organizations sort of have 30 projects on the go, and aren’t really sure what’s going to pan out, and they can’t take all of those people away from their day to day activities? So, how do companies prioritize?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: I’m sure everybody that’s listening this, they can’t relate to that point. Companies have way too many projects. I think that if there’s a core skill for leaders in current times, is focused and prioritization. Knowing what is the big path, and unfortunately, it’s just very hard to see when you see more projects than employees. And like you’re saying, how can they do their day to day job plus three, four time projects? That’s where people get overwhelmed. I am sure that the big reset is linked to this, so many projects plus day to day activities. It’s just stressing everybody out, and I think that when you work with companies where the priorities are clear, where people know, these are our top three, their top five, and we know where we’re going, this is the focus, that’s where I think executives need to work on. On really making the tough decisions.

ALISON BEARD: What are some best practices for putting project teams together?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: Well, Alison, the formula for engagement is super simple. The most engaged people in a project, you know which one is it? Volunteers. Let me put you an example. Maybe in HBR, you are launching a new project. Why don’t you ask who wants to join?

ALISON BEARD: Makes sense. It’s so simple, but it makes so much sense.

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: It’s so simple, because there’s different things that happen here. First, if nobody wants to volunteer in that project, that project is terrible. Don’t start it. Don’t start it because it’s just, people are going to be forced to do it, so ask for volunteers. Nobody shows up, don’t start it. You don’t need a business case of three months hiring consultants to make you, “Yes, this is …” If nobody jumps on it, terrible. Don’t even start it. It’s just a five minutes test and you save three months of work. Second, if the project talks about business case, very few people get excited, yeah? Who wants to work in a project that delivers 10% return on investment? Yes, nobody. Right? 15%, nobody. Who wants to work in a project which is going to make a more sustainable world? Who’s going to work in a project who’s going to increase the customer experience and make customers more happy, and deliver better value to a customer?

Who wants to work in a project who’s going to create our employees or make our employees more happy, and make us a top company? Lots of people. So, we have been, when we were talking about some of the issues, I think project manage has been focused on talking about things that don’t matter to most of the stakeholders, like a business case. Business case is super important. It’s the return investment, for sure, but that’s not what engages people. The purpose engages people. When you have volunteers, they will dream about your projects. They will do whatever they can to make it happen, and it can be because of the purpose, it can be because they like to work with you, they see a big opportunity to learn. Of course, as a project leader, you need to balance that. But as simple as that, Alison, “Who wants to volunteer?”

ALISON BEARD: How does the rise of project driven work relate to the gig economy? Is your sense that companies are hiring contractors and freelancers to get a lot of this done? Is it a balance or are they trying to handle most of it in-house?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: I think when we started to hear about the gig economy, I think yes, one of the reasons was, “Let’s hire external resources to work in our projects because we are so rigid internally, like I cannot free, from my 10,000 people, I cannot free 10 of them because they’re so busy in day to day operations plus other projects,” so it started like that. What I see now is that companies are finally taking the step of shifting resources to more project based work. Again, when I use the word project, I include Agile teams, self directed, so very flat project driven teams. So, that’s happening to the point that I talk about it is that companies are canceling job descriptions. We all had job descriptions like, Alison, most of the people listening, probably they had a job description, which tried to describe like, where do you fit in this box? Right? And just do those activities in this box, in that operational field.

That’s your box. If you do it right in two, three years, you just go up in the structure. But many large companies and small companies are realizing that people don’t work in boxes anymore, and job descriptions are not needed anymore. It’s a thing from that world driven by efficiency that together with the chief operating officer in this role, so I think they will not last very long. So, I think the project driven world is now being and embraced by organization where companies like Alibaba or other major players are really embracing this type of work where yeah, they’re looking for people who can have an idea, who can develop the idea, who can implement the project, and who can run the idea of the product or the business and generate value for the companies. This is what I call end-to-end players or strategy implementation professionals. We want this type of end-to-end players who can work transversely in organizations.

ALISON BEARD: Are there lessons from your project management world that might be helpful for people doing more traditional ongoing work?

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: I think project managers have been a bit not very proud about their work. They’ve been seeing like, “Okay, you are not very modern. Agile teams are better, or innovation people,” so I think as a project manager, you need to believe on what you’re doing. Second, I think we need to take more ownership. I’ve been working 25 years in this space and managing large transformation M&A, and I always was waiting for the sponsor. I know the sponsor was very important for my projects, but I was kind of waiting and hoping that the sponsor will learn and follow training on how to do it or make some time for my projects. And I’ve learned the lesson is that the first thing I do in my projects is I go to the sponsor and talk frankly with the sponsor.

“Listen, are you ready to put time on this project? It’s very important. I need you, and I’m happy to coach you. I’m happy to tell you how projects work and what do we need to focus on, but I need your time, and I need a couple of hours per month. Let’s say an hour every two weeks. I need to talk to you. I need decisions from you.” So, I’m very much proactive because I know that role is very important and these people are really busy. One of the biggest lesson learned was being proactive with my project. The second maybe is I talk to many project managers and we are very technical to the point of sometimes difficult to understand, slash boring, right? Who wants to talk to a project manager? Come on. Do you have something more interesting? No, but that’s …

ALISON BEARD: You’re more interesting than I imagine, than my sort of vision of what the project manager is.

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: You see? Because I don’t talk about project management, I don’t talk about Gantt charts, I don’t think that’s my kitchen. That’s what I do when I need to think about making a plan, but you are interested on the bigger picture. You are interested on how my ideas will contribute to our needs as an organization, so I do this exercise with project managers, “Tell your partner what you do without mentioning the words projects and project management,” and they say, “Oh, I’m struggling. What do I do?” And then they start talking about the value they bring, and that’s what people want to hear.

You covered this topic broadly in HBR, but talking, adapting, understanding the language of your stakeholders, using it. That’s how you get their engagement. That’s how you get their attention. That’s how they appreciate your value, and that’s the second big learning. When I did that, things changed for me. Senior leaders wanted to talk to me. When I forced them to prioritize in key projects, they were saying, “Antonio, we want another meeting with you,” was the CEO of the bank, because I force them. I force them to create value. I force them to have strategic dialogue, so I would say if you’re listening, you’re working in this space, move on into that space. Move on on the value creation, on your stakeholder, and things will change very fast.

ALISON BEARD: Well, Antonio, I learned a ton today. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

ANTONIO NIETO-RODRIGUEZ: A pleasure.

HANNAH BATES: That was project management expert Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez in conversation with Alison Beard on the HBR IdeaCast. He’s the author of the Harvard Business Review Project Management Handbook.

We’ll be back next Wednesday with another hand-picked conversation about business strategy from Harvard Business Review. If you found this episode helpful, share it with your friends and colleagues, and follow our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. While you’re there, be sure to leave us a review. And when you’re ready for more podcasts, articles, case studies, books, and videos with the world’s top business and management experts, find it all at HBR.org.

This episode was produced by Mary Dooe, Anne Saini, and me, Hannah Bates. Ian Fox is our editor. And special thanks to Rob Eckhardt, Adam Buchholz, Maureen Hoch, Nicole Smith, Erica Truxler, Ramsey Khabbaz, Anne Bartholomew, and you – our listener. See you next week.

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blue and orange image of the Capitol building with text "Project 2025"

Research/Study Research/Study

Inside Project 2025's attack on reproductive rights: IVF

Special Programs Abortion Rights & Reproductive Health

Written by Sophie Lawton , Jacina Hollins-Borges & John Knefel

Published 06/24/24 1:30 PM EDT

At least 22 partner organizations of Project 2025, a coalition of over 100 conservative groups looking to staff the next potential administration of former President Donald Trump, have publicly criticized in vitro fertilization, according to a Media Matters review.

Project 2025 is organized by conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, and has laid out a radical plan for governance during a second Trump term. The initiative's wide-ranging policy proposals are laid out in its “ Mandate for Leadership ,” a staunchly anti-choice document. Although the Mandate itself doesn’t mention IVF, Heritage has published several pieces opposing the procedure and celebrated a ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that extended de facto personhood rights to frozen embryos, severely curtailing access to IVF. After abrupt political backlash , Alabama’s governor passed a law protecting IVF providers from legal liability, which some Project 2025 partner organizations have criticized for rendering the original “fetal personhood” ruling moot.

The organizations and individuals associated with Project 2025 who oppose IVF have raised various objections, none of which are scientifically or medically sound. Some opponents, for example, have elided the difference between the legal definition of “viable” — like that used by Louisiana, which has the most restrictive anti-IVF laws in the country — and the medical definition. Louisiana allows IVF but prohibits the destruction of embryos, forcing fertility clinics to ship them to other states for storage. These organizations will often point out that despite this law, Louisiana has more babies born through IVF than Alabama, though they fail to mention that both states have some of the lowest rates of IVF births in the country.

Similarly, some partner organizations have suggested following European countries' leads in regulating IVF, several of them naming Italy as a suitable example. Italy once had laws classifying embryos as living people and severely regulating IVF procedures; all of them were repealed after IVF became more difficult to access and less likely to succeed.

Other Project 2025 associates have argued that IVF is a form of eugenics or that it will lead to cloning or extreme forms of genetic modification and experimentation. Still others have baselessly claimed that IVF is underregulated, ignoring the multiple federal and state guidelines and licensing requirements that providers must meet. 

For the full report on Project 2025's attack on reproductive rights, click  here .

Select a Partner Organization

The heritage foundation, alabama policy institute, alliance defending freedom, the american conservative, american family association, american principles project, americans united for life, amac action, california family council, concerned women for america, discovery institute, eagle forum, ethics and public policy center, family policy alliance, family research council, independent women’s forum, dr. james dobson family institute, liberty university, media research center, mississippi center for public policy, students for life of america, susan b. anthony pro-life america, turning point usa.

  • In a post to X, The Heritage Foundation appeared to express support for the Alabama IVF ruling, writing, “FACT: The Alabama Supreme Court decision does not threaten access to IVF,” and claiming that the decision “reassures parents” that frozen embryos will be safer.  [Twitter/X, 3/7/24 ]
  • Senior legal fellow Thomas Jipping wrote that the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on embryos that imperiled IVF “got it right” and further suggested that abortion should not be legal.  Jipping also denied the ruling is “an attack on IVF technology itself ... or could have revolutionary ripple effects,” belittling “the media, politicians, and activists” who discussed the ruling’s consequences. He concluded that while this case was about destroyed embryos, “causing the death of an unborn child by abortion is legal [in] more than half of the United States.” [The Heritage Foundation, 4/2/24 ]

The Heritage Foundation's Emma Waters has written extensively against assisted reproductive technologies, particularly IVF and surrogacy. Her opposition draws on unsubstantiated concerns about possible harms to children who lack access to both biological parents and on biblical teaching about proper procreation. [Media Matters, 3/1/24 , 4/2/24 ] 

In a March article titled “Why the IVF Industry Must Be Regulated,” Waters laid out policy recommendations that would impose heavy medical restrictions on IVF and make the procedure more difficult for couples to access and harder for facilities to perform. [Media Matters, 3/19/24 ]

In an article describing her biblical reasoning for not supporting IVF, Waters argued that it is important for Protestants specifically to “take a firm and authoritative stance on reproductive technology” because “Protestants necessarily hold a central place in America’s political and institutional life.” [The Heritage Foundation, 1/24/24 ]

Waters celebrated the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on IVF, calling it “an unqualified victory” and claiming “parents should be grateful that their embryos will receive greater protection.” In another piece on the ruling, Waters suggested states adopt stricter laws around IVF procedures, like those that exist in some European countries. [The Heritage Foundation, 2/27/24 , 2/28/24 ]

In a 2023 article, Waters complained about a California bill that would allow single parents or same-sex couples to access IVF through their health care service plans, stating, “No amount of technology or health insurance coverage can alter God’s created order.” She also claimed that allowing more widespread use of IVF procedures would create a “human trafficking market.” [The Heritage Foundation, 6/20/23 ]

Waters repeated her complaints about LGBTQ couples using IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies in another article titled “Radical ‘Right to Build Families Act’ Would Unleash IVF and Commercial Surrogacy.” In the article, Waters claimed that “the pro-abortion and the LGBTQ coalitions” are pushing assisted reproductive technologies, writing that both coalitions “have been quite hostile to the rights of children and the unborn.” [The Heritage Foundation, 1/13/23 ]

In an interview with the Family Policy Alliance, Alabama Policy Institute president and CEO Stephanie Smith claimed, “The Alabama Supreme Court ruled — correctly, in our opinion — that those embryos were children and should be treated as children under our wrongful death statutes.” Referencing Louisiana’s strict IVF laws, she went on to suggest new parameters that would make the treatment more difficult to receive. [YouTube, 2/29/24, 2/29/24 ]

API released a joint statement with Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America criticizing Alabama’s stop-gap measure to protect providers of IVF from criminal charges. The statement said, “It is unacceptable the Alabama Legislature has advanced a bill that falls short of pro-life expectations and fails to respect the dignity of human life.” [The New York Times, 2/28/24 ]

In an article titled, “In IVF case, Alabama Supreme Court protects life from conception,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Denise Burke claimed the Alabama ruling was “a victory for life and the rights of parents.” Burke argued, “Cases like this one demonstrate that being pro-life entails more than just protecting unborn children from abortion.” [Alliance Defending Freedom, 3/18/24 ]

In a statement, Burke called the Alabama ruling “a tremendous victory” for “unborn children created through assisted reproductive technology.” [The New York Times, 2/22/24 ]

An article in the American Conservative by contributor Carmel Richardson claimed IVF is helping the “LGBT movement” distort the meaning of family. Richardson wrote, “To limit the baby-making industry is to give hard answers to those who would like a chicken in every pot and a baby in every lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender arm.” Richardson later disparaged IVF for allowing even a “transgender pedophile” to have a child. [The American Conservative, 3/1/24 ]

Contributor Christopher Brunet argued in a piece titled, “A personal IVF story” that he “should be allowed to condemn IVF” because “while one may born as the result of a rape, for example, it does not mean that they can’t condemn rape.” Brunet called IVF “the hope and despair of professional women in middle management” and “propaganda against nature, persuading a generation of collegiate women that they're not losing fertility every day after they turn 20.” Brunet also admonished Republicans for caving to pressure to support IVF, writing, “Just as there is now no going back on IVF, there is also no going back on gay marriage, civil rights, demographic replacement.” [The American Conservative, 2/28/24 ]

Them Before Us President Katy Faust published a story in The American Conservative titled “Alabama sets the stage for a Supreme Court fight over IVF,” in which she praised the Alabama ruling and claimed Louisiana has similar guidelines about embryos. Faust claimed these laws “protect children from their rampant destruction at the hands of #BigFertility” and called on conservatives to “not only challenge the baby-taking industry, but the baby-making industry.” [The American Conservative, 2/24/24 ]

In a call to action against Mississippi’s “anti-life” bill HB 1688, American Family Association claimed the bill would grant an “unrestricted right to destroy unborn children” through procedures such as IVF. The organization called it a “very bad amendment” and asked readers to contact their local lawmakers about the bill. HB 1688 would protect the right to assisted reproductive procedures in Mississippi. [American Family Association, 3/8/24 ; Mississippi Today, 3/7/24 ]

In a second call to action against Mississippi’s HB 1688, AFA Vice President Walker Wildmon stated that the bill “creates an unrestricted right to destroy unborn children as part of very broadly defined ‘treatments or procedures.’” [American Family Association, 3/11/24 ]

On his podcast At The Core , Wildmon claimed, “The ruling in Alabama had to do with wasting embryos, or dumping embryos or discarding” and went on to state “eyes are being opened to how much of a disregard as a culture we’ve had for babies with this IVF discussion.” [American Family Radio, At The Core , 2/28/24 ]

In a Facebook live panel hosted by AFA about the Alabama IVF ruling, Wildmon claimed, “An embryo is a baby,” and stated, “IVF is not being threatened here.” [Facebook, American Family Association Action, 3/1/24 ]

American Principles Project President Terry Schilling tweeted about IVF: “If America isn’t careful, we could actually create a government backed institution of buying and selling human beings. Which, I thought, we decided long ago was wrong.” American Principles Project previously tweeted a statement by Schilling where he told Republicans to “come up with reasonable policy” and that “they should come up with what they actually believe and support and stand for.” [Twitter/X, 3/7/24 , 2/27/24 ]

In a February statement posted to its website, Americans United for Life praised Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) for blocking legislation that would protect the right to reproductive treatments. The statement claimed that “embryonic children are typically treated as property rather than persons” and that there is a “near-total lack of patient health and safety regulations and meaningful regulatory oversight” in the IVF industry. [Americans United for Life, 2/28/24 ]

Chief legal counsel for AUL Steve Aden spoke with The Washington Post, criticizing Trump’s statement about IVF treatments and stating that “the ethical approach to IVF is to ensure that human lives are not wantonly created and destroyed in the process.” The Post also highlights the “model legislation to limit the number of embryos created per IVF cycle” that AUL previously drafted. [The Washington Post, 2/24/24 ]

In 2022, Aden compared IVF treatments to “eugenics,” telling The Guardian he considers “most” kinds of IVF “untenable in a culture that respects all human life.” [The Guardian, 5/12/22 ]

In a piece on the Association of Mature American Citizens Action website, author John Moor suggested giving the Alabama Supreme Court credit for “having the courage” to make the ruling limiting IVF. He went on to compare a “preborn child” to people who “fall under a government protected characteristic,” claiming the government protects individuals from discrimination “based on age, mental capacity and appearance like skin color” and therefore should protect embryos as well. [AMAC Action, 3/18/24 ]

On Instagram, the California Family Council claimed, “By the numbers the IVF Industry is responsible for the loss of more embryonic life every year than the abortion industry.” [Instagram, 3/6/24 ]

In a statement on its website, the CFC claimed there are “grave moral concerns inherent to IVF,” and, “We cannot ignore the plight of our embryonic brothers and sisters.” The statement heavily doubled down on the idea that embryos are humans and advocated for the adoption of laws like those regulating IVF in Louisiana and countries like Germany, Italy, France, Poland, New Zealand, and Australia. [California Family Council, 3/8/24 ]

In 2023, CFC attacked a California bill it claimed “would require employers to provide insurance plans that cover all nonexperimental fertility treatments, including … for a surrogate hired by any couple or single person.” The CFC statement criticized the bill for expanding fertility treatments to include LGBTQ families, stating, “Children have the natural right to their biological father and mother, and they suffer tremendously in every area of life when this right is infringed upon.” [California Family Council, 6/19/23 ]

Valerie Bynog, a legislative strategist for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, wrote in a blog on the organization’s website, “An embryo … is a living being.” Bynog criticized the American IVF industry for not having laws like “many European countries” that have “common sense regulations” around IVF. [Concerned Women for America, 2/29/24 ]

Discovery Institute Chair and Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith wrote in 2017 that IVF is lacking the “moralistic restriction” of only being used by infertile married couples, and referred to the treatment as “positive eugenics.” [Discovery Institute, 10/27/17 ]

Smith previously wrote in 2013 that IVF opens the door for “polyamorous threesomes or lesbian couples” to have children and claimed it must be stopped. He also claimed, “We already know that children born via IVF have poorer health outcomes than children conceived naturally,” and compared IVF treatments to cloning animals. [Discovery Institute, 9/26/13 ]

In a statement on its website, Eagle Forum claimed, “Other states and countries are performing IVF in ethical ways,” referencing Louisiana and European countries, and claimed Louisiana’s IVF regulations “clearly haven’t deterred fertility clinics.” The statement attacked Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) Access to Family Building Act, saying it expands reproductive protections too widely to include “not only IVF, but cloning, gene editing, experimentation on embryos, commercial surrogacy, ‘designer babies’, and more,” and that it removes “religious conscience protections” around IVF. [Eagle Forum, 2/29/24 ]

Appearing as a guest on a Facebook live panel hosted by the American Family Association, Eagle Forum executive director Becky Gerritson claimed the Alabama ruling “did not stop IVF, it did not regulate IVF” and told the panel that Eagle Forum is “promoting and pushing” more regulation of the IVF industry. [Facebook, American Family Association Action, 3/1/24 ] 

The Ethics and Public Policy Center published a piece on its website by fellow Patrick Brown in which he claimed that Republicans are making “a mistake” by criticizing the Alabama ruling and called for Republicans to refuse “broad progressive legislation that would make access to IVF an ‘individual right.’” Brown pushed back on calls for IVF to be an individual right, claiming that it has “weakened” the “family as an institution,” and suggested policy that would cover IVF for only “legally married couples using their own sperm and egg.” He also called the Alabama ruling a “modest” case against IVF. [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 3/2/24 ]

EPPC President Ryan Anderson published a piece titled, “The truth about Alabama’s ruling on IVF” wherein he claimed that “the media … falsely claimed IVF was about to be banned— and Republicans fell for the claim.” Anderson’s whole piece referred to IVF embryos as “frozen embryonic children” and called IVF “morally and emotionally fraught.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2/28/24 ]

EPPC fellow Andrew Walker criticized Christians and pro-life Americans for not having a stronger stance against IVF. He called IVF “morally problematic” for taking sexual intercourse out of conception, breaking a “holy and inviolable seal,” and for creating embryos that won’t be used, claiming, “In Christian language, these embryos are our neighbors.” [Ethics and Public Policy Center, 2/28/24 ]

EPPC fellow Aaron Kheriaty wrote a piece for Newsweek titled “After Alabama ruling, it's time for a serious look at the ethics of the IVF industry,” in which he claimed that “there is no morally just solution” for modern IVF treatments. [Newsweek, 2/29/24 ]

In a Family Policy Alliance podcast, Director of Public Policy Joseph Kohm stated, “Each of those fertilized embryos that are frozen is a unique human life,” before praising the Alabama Supreme Court for addressing the issue of IVF. [YouTube, 2/29/24 ]

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Associated Press that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision was “a beautiful defense of life.” [The Associated Press, 2/23/24 ]

On X, Perkins asserted that Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) bill protecting reproductive services was “an overreach designed to advance the Democrats’ radical, Frankensteinian agenda.” He also claimed the bill would legalize “creation of animal-human hybrids (‘chimeras’)” and “trafficking and destruction of human embryos.” In a later post, Perkins pushed for more “IVF safeguards.” [Twitter/X, 2/28/24 , 2/28/24 ] 

On his podcast, Washington Watch, Perkins claimed Duckworth’s bill “raises numerous moral and bioethical issues that go far beyond ensuring the IVF issue” and again claimed it would allow the creation of human-animal hybrids. [YouTube, Washington Watch, 2/28/24 ]

On the Independent Women’s Forum’s She Thinks Podcast, Natural Womanhood editor Grace Emily Stark argued that “all across the board people, even medical professionals, have this really inflated idea of how successful IVF is that does not match reality.” [Independent Women’s Forum, She Thinks Podcast , 2/17/23 ]

On the High Noon podcast, IWF senior fellow Emily Jashinsky argued, “The pro-life movement should lead with the reality that there is a way for IVF to be done ethically where you’re not discarding embryos.” Later, host Inez Stepman asked: “Do we really want to live in a world where we’re eugenically selecting babies, where we are commodifying the act of pregnancy?” [Independent Women’s Forum, High Noon , 2/28/24 ] 

IWF cross-posted an article originally written for Fox News by IWF visiting fellow Emma Waters, warning that “AI will fuel disturbing ‘build-a-child’ industry.” Waters claimed: “Seventy-five percent of IVF clinics in the U.S. offer genetic testing. This allows parents to create multiple embryos and select the one that matches their preferred sex and eye, hair, and skin color.” She added: “They can also gauge if a child will develop certain health problems. In one controversial case, deaf parents tried to create a child who would inherit their deafness. Of course, clinics destroy the unwanted embryos.” [Independent Women’s Forum, 8/4/23 ]

In a Q&A post on the Dobson Digital Library, James Dobson declared that he is “strongly opposed to the practice of creating fertilized eggs from ‘donors’ outside the immediate family (this would include the donation of sperm or eggs from a brother or sister of the husband and wife wishing to conceive),” because such activity would be to “play God.”  Dobson added that IVF is “less problematic” if “all the fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus (i.e., no ova are wasted or disposed of after fertilization.” He also argued that implanting an already existing frozen embryo is akin to “adoption.” [Dobson Digital Library, accessed 4/2/24 ]

Liberty University posted a summary of a law school panel discussion on reproductive rights after the Dobbs decision, highlighting comments from The Justice Foundation’s Allan Parker on “how to advance that victory [Dobbs] by abolishing in vitro fertilization to protect frozen eggs that have already been fertilized, which he explained is an expansion of the idea that life begins at conception.” Parker said: “I think we need more scholarly research and more public education (on this topic) before the Supreme Court is willing to accept the argument that the right to life under the constitution protects life from the moment of conception.” He added, “It takes time to change culture. But we need to do the historical research, get the education about it to where the judges, based on the appropriate case with the appropriate evidence, will be comfortable making that judicial determination.” [Liberty University, 2/14/24 ]

Media Research Center’s Tierin-Rose Mandelburg responded to the Alabama Supreme Court decision in a blog post, writing, “This is a good thing. Regardless of whether a child is conceived naturally or by artificial implantation, that child has value and has sanctity and deserves to be treated as such. Throwing embryos away should be considered murder, as, now in Alabama, it is.” Mandelburg’s blog began with the line, “Sweet Home Alabama just got even sweeter for babies.” [NewsBusters, 2/19/24 ]

Media Research Center’s Jorge Bonilla argued that the mainstream media’s response to Alabama’s ruling was disingenuous and simply a cover to advocate for abortion rights, writing, “The panic point for the media is the Court’s grant of personhood to human embryos.” “Such a finding, were it to be upheld by the United States Supreme Court, drives a dagger into efforts to codify Roe,” he continued. He later added: “Personhood, even if not uttered out loud, is the whole ball game and the media know it. It’s hard to imagine the liberal media caring too much about IVF except that these stories enable advocacy for a Roe restoration. Personhood gets in the way of that.” [NewsBusters, 2/23/24 ]

Similar to the Heritage Foundation, the Mississippi Center for Public Policy argued more than a decade ago in support of a proposed “personhood amendment” to the state’s constitution, claiming it was “unlikely” to “be used to justify a ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF).” MCPP added: “IVF procedures can be performed without destroying human embryos, and therefore would still be permissible under Initiative 26. As is currently being done in many cases, any excess embryos not implanted in the womb could be frozen and implanted later or adopted out to other parents.” [Mississippi Center for Public Policy, 11/3/11 ]

Students for Life of America argued that a “consistent, intellectually-honest stance holds that human life begins at conception/fertilization,” and views discarding embryos as “a human rights violation,” claiming that the current process of IVF encourages “targeted killing” based on “undesirable traits” and “leads to eugenics.” [Students for Life of America, 1/27/22 , 4/21/22 , 2/23/24 ]

In a blog post, Students for Life of America prepared supporters to discuss IVF by raising the argument that “more die from IVF than abortion.” [Students for Life America, 2/23/24 ]

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has advocated against federal bills drafted to protect IVF after the Alabama ruling. SBA Pro-Life America argued against Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R-SC) non-binding resolution that states “strong support” for IVF, arguing that it “leaves no room for reasonable laws like the one in Louisiana that for decades has protected human embryos while also allowing IVF.” The organization also heavily criticized Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) bill, saying it “would even codify a right to human cloning and genetic engineering of human embryos.” [Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, 2/28/24 , POLITICO, 2/27/24 ]

Turning Point USA’s Alex Clark, who frequently criticizes fertility care and birth control, has written about her changing stance on IVF, concluding in 2022 that IVF is not “really any different than an early abortion.” [Turning Point USA, 8/11/22 , 8/29/22 ; Media Matters, 6/11/23 , 2/14/23 ]

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Evaluation of coal-seam roof-water richness based on improved weight method: a case study in the dananhu no.7 coal mine, china, 1. introduction, 2. study area and mining conditions, 3. methodology, 3.1. factors influencing the coal-seam roof water richness, 3.2. the determination of indicator weights, 3.2.1. improvement of the entropy method, 3.2.2. improvement of the scatter degree method, 3.2.3. coupled weighting, 4. results and discussion, 4.1. results, 4.2. discussion.

  • The middle section of the Xishangyao Group is a water-bearing layer composed of fractured and porous conglomerate sandstone, which directly inundates the roof of the third coal seam, posing a threat to mining safety. Six factors, including the aquifer thickness, recharge index, dip angle of the coal seam, core take rate, sand–mud interbed index, and lithological coefficient of sandstone, were selected as the main indicators for evaluating the water abundance of the roof of the third coal seam;
  • To address the limitations of the entropy method, which focuses on local differences and lacks inheritability and transitivity, the indicator conflict correlation coefficient was employed to weigh the information entropy, thus improving the entropy method to obtain the weights of individual indicators;
  • Before obtaining the weights of each indicator using the scatter degree method, a subjective optimization method was employed to pre-weigh the original values of each indicator, thereby enhancing the method. The resulting weight coefficients can better differentiate the relative importance of each indicator and their significance in evaluating the target, enabling a more comprehensive assessment;
  • The combination weighting of each indicator was performed, and a water-richness zoning model was established using GIS software. The evaluation model predicted a higher water richness in the northeastern part of the mining area. The prediction was validated to be consistent with the actual conditions, thus providing a reference for hydrological measures in other coal-seam roofs.

Author Contributions

Data availability statement, acknowledgments, conflicts of interest.

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Click here to enlarge figure

l /S 0~0.20.2~0.40.4~0.60.6~0.80.8~1
p 1.21.41.61.82
Total sandstone thickness/Total thickness of bed0~0.20.2~0.40.4~0.60.6~0.80.8~1
e0.20.40.60.81
BoreholesAquifer
Thickness
Recharge
Index
Dip Angle of Coal SeamCore Take RateSand–Mud Interbed
Index
Lithological Coefficient of Sandstone
ZK5121.0000.2770.8240.8760.0431.000
ZKJ5040.9290.5540.5880.9150.0310.854
ZK5310.9060.7700.5880.7700.1670.721
ZK5040.8100.7320.4120.7860.1480.796
ZKJ4020.7100.3330.8820.7980.0220.694
ZKJ3070.6800.4060.4710.7850.0190.572
ZK51110.5870.5800.3530.9280.0150.433
ZK5330.5840.6720.2940.8560.2280.329
ZKJ5050.5430.8050.5880.9460.1720.349
ZKJ4050.5010.4370.7060.9390.0990.543
ZKJ5060.4790.8310.5290.8240.3810.195
ZK5050.4720.6640.7650.8180.2630.348
ZK51120.4620.6850.5880.7770.1550.342
ZK5130.4500.5980.9410.7220.1320.314
ZKJ2070.4300.2120.2940.9580.0200.369
ZKJ2120.4300.4470.4120.5240.0310.303
ZKJ5010.3250.7420.3530.8430.2920.383
ZKJ5020.2680.6040.6470.6200.3560.333
ZK48120.2630.3810.2940.9230.0700.240
ZKJ2110.2620.6740.2940.7180.1070.236
ZKJ3080.2570.2910.6470.8890.1500.257
ZKJ4010.2540.6090.4120.8810.3510.165
ZKJ4040.2510.7200.4121.0000.0180.203
ZK5060.2480.6801.0000.9770.4020.201
ZKJ2060.2400.4810.5290.6480.0610.169
ZK49100.2140.6890.1760.8540.0160.153
ZK5140.2050.9130.4710.8100.4440.218
ZK4860.1990.5100.6470.9380.0840.225
ZK5250.1950.9490.3530.8350.5950.357
ZK5080.1840.5220.5880.8850.2080.092
ZK5090.1830.9060.5290.8820.4100.070
ZKJ4060.1770.8620.5880.8750.2560.085
ZK5320.1641.0000.6470.8301.0000.239
ZKJ5030.1470.9120.6470.8340.8990.103
ZKJ1030.1440.2880.2940.7480.0490.098
ZKJ3060.1400.5250.5290.8620.4400.167
ZKJ2080.1390.3900.4710.8400.0990.083
ZK4970.1310.8440.3530.7170.4580.136
ZK49120.1170.6500.4120.9720.4400.079
ZKJ3030.0780.8510.2940.9380.6030.031
ZKJ4030.0460.9000.4120.7940.6330.026
WeightAquifer
Thickness
Recharge IndexDip Angle of Coal SeamCore Takes
Rate
Sand–Mud Interbed IndexLithological Coefficient of Sandstone
h′0.2340.1580.1230.1680.0640.253
r′0.2850.1330.1350.1720.0440.230
Comprehensive WeightAquifer
Thickness
Recharge IndexDip Angle of Coal SeamCore Takes
Rate
Sand–Mud Interbed IndexLithological Coefficient of Sandstone
w 0.2590.1450.1290.1710.0530.242
BoreholesInflow (m /h)Hydraulic Pressure (Mpa)Comparison of Projected ResultsBoreholesInflow (m /h)Hydraulic Pressure (Mpa)Comparison of Projected ResultsBoreholesInflow (m /h)Hydraulic Pressure (Mpa)Comparison of Projected Results
S1-1300.9DisagreeS8-315\AgreeS18-170.9Agree
S1-2230.9DisagreeS9-116\AgreeS18-44.50.9Agree
S2-48.60.8AgreeS10-112\DisagreeS19-24.21.2Agree
S2-5190.8DisagreeS10-315\DisagreeS19-450.9Agree
S3-460.9AgreeS11-17.2\AgreeS2-11.10.19Agree
S3-5110.9AgreeS11-39\AgreeS2-21.1\Agree
S4-160.9AgreeS12-15.3\AgreeS2-31.10.19Agree
S4-2230.9DisagreeS12-35\DisagreeS2-41.4\Agree
S4-3100.9AgreeS14-2261DisagreeS3-21.20.2Agree
S4-4170.9AgreeS14-3111AgreeS3-41.60.26Agree
S5-3120.9AgreeS15-212.61AgreeS5-20.80.13Agree
S6-230.50.9AgreeS16-27.50.9AgreeS5-40.70.12Agree
k445\AgreeS16-34.80.9AgreeSF179\Agree
k528\AgreeS16-69.50.9AgreeSF275.3\Agree
S7-315\AgreeS17-45.50.9Agree
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Comparison between surgical and non-surgical management of primary hyperparathyroidism during pregnancy: a systematic review

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  • Published: 25 June 2024

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  • Shezifi Eli 1 , 2 ,
  • Shlomo Gozlan Gal 3 &
  • Zaina Adnan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7482-3104 1 , 4  

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The management of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) during pregnancy may be surgical or conservative. This study compared adverse outcomes between surgical and non-surgical treatments. Additionally, the study investigated the correlation between serum calcium values and complication rates.

A systematic review of retrospective studies, case series, and case reports. Biochemical parameters, interventions, and outcomes of each pregnancy were recorded. The study population comprised two groups: the non-surgical and surgical groups. Adverse outcomes were categorized as maternal, obstetric, or neonatal.

The surgical and non-surgical groups consisted of 163 and 185 patients, respectively. A positive correlation was observed between the mean maternal gestational calcium value and both maternal and obstetric complication. Neonatal complications were more prevalent in patients treated conservatively across all maternal calcium values (p < 0.001). No significant differences were observed in maternal outcomes and overall obstetric outcomes between the study groups, albeit a higher mean serum calcium value in the surgical group (12.3 mg/dL) compared with the non-surgical group (11.1 mg/dL).

Conclusions

Given the significantly lower neonatal adverse outcomes in the non-surgical group compared to the surgical group, along with non-inferior maternal and obstetric outcomes in the surgical group, the overall data of this study suggest that parathyroidectomy is favorable to non-surgical management even in cases of mild hypercalcemia.

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Introduction

Primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) is a relatively rare condition to encounter in women of reproductive age, with an estimated rate of 7.7–50 cases per 100,000 women of this population [ 1 , 2 ].

Pregnancy is characterized by physiological changes in calcium metabolism which must be considered: calcium absorption increases twofold by third trimester, driven by vitamin D and parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP). The latter is synthesized during pregnancy from the amnion, as well as breasts to lesser extent, and other reproductive tissues [ 3 ]. PTHrP acts similarly to parathyroid hormone (PTH), promoting epithelial growth and tissue differentiation in the fetus and acting as the primary stimulus for the active placental calcium pump [ 3 ]. Total serum calcium values decrease during pregnancy due to the increased intravascular volume, calcium placental efflux, and increased urinary output. Finally, ionized calcium levels remain unchanged, and PTH falls to the low-normal range [ 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ].

The etiology of gestational PHPT is most often a parathyroid adenoma, and less commonly parathyroid hyperplasia (5–10%) or parathyroid carcinoma (<1%) [ 8 , 9 ]. PHPT may also occur as part of an inherited syndrome, and genetic counseling has been recommended for patients younger than 40 carrying the disease [ 10 , 11 ].

PHPT may be managed conservatively or surgically. Conservative treatment is typically recommended for asymptomatic patients, or those with mild hypercalcemia, or as a bridge to surgery. It includes close follow-up, electrolyte, and hormonal monitoring, along with hydration alone in mild to moderate patients or additional pharmacological therapy in cases of refractory hypercalcemia [ 7 , 12 , 13 ]. The definitive treatment for this condition is parathyroidectomy, which can be performed via cervical exploration or minimally invasive parathyroidectomy (MIP). [ 9 , 14 ] Reports of successful ablation of the gland are also documented [ 15 , 16 , 17 ].

Data regarding pregnancy complication rates from gestational PHPT are variable. Norman et al. reported a significant difference in pregnancy loss in gestational PHPT [ 18 ], and citations across the literature claim complications of PHPT during pregnancy may reach as high as 67% of mothers and 80% of offspring [ 19 , 20 , 21 ]. However, more recent large cohorts have reported no increased risk of obstetric complications [ 22 , 23 ]. Although several studies have shown increased risk of complications in non-surgical treatment compared to surgical treatment, current guidelines suggest surgery only when the patient is either symptomatic or with hypercalcemia exceeding 1 mg/dL above the normal limits [ 7 , 24 ]. Similarly, surgical safety is controversial. While some studies conclude that surgery during pregnancy causes more adverse events than surgery on non-pregnant patients [ 25 , 26 ], others conclude that the risks of parathyroidectomy are minimal, hence surgery should not be delayed when necessary [ 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 ]. A recent Chinese expert consensus concluded surgery should be considered regardless of the stage of pregnancy when hypercalcemia appears hazardous to the patient or fetus [ 7 ]. In mind of the above controversies, the current study compared the complication rates between surgical and non-surgical managements, utilizing all the relevant published data available.

Study design

A literature search on PubMed, ScienceDirect (Elsevier), and Google Scholar was performed using the terms: “pregnancy” or “gestation”, “hyperparathyroidism”, “PHPT”, and “parathyroidectomy”. Database included published studies between 1980 and 2023. The study population comprised of women who experienced primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) during pregnancy and either underwent parathyroidectomy during pregnancy (surgical group) or were managed conservatively (non-surgical group). Recorded data included the patient’s age, biochemical values, obstetric and medical history, time of diagnosis, etiology, presenting symptoms, management, and complications, which were subsequently classified as maternal, obstetric, or neonatal. We excluded reports involving significant comorbidities, such as metastatic non-parathyroid cancer or any condition unrelated to PHPT severe enough to require management in the intensive care unit (ICU) during pregnancy, reports with missing data, and patients treated with alternative management not addressed in this article’s scope. We excluded cases with calcium values exceeding 15 mg/dl as these were deemed rare and complex, leading to higher complication rates and outcome bias. Additionally, we excluded records involving ectopic parathyroid adenomas, parathyroid carcinomas, and patients positive for multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) as these rare cases were correlated with extended hospital stays, alternative management strategies, and complicated outcomes.

Data collection

The initial search yielded 777 articles, manually filtered to identify 259 relevant articles for screening. Following the screening process for duplications and exclusion criteria, 168 publications were selected, comprising 348 cases for data analysis (as depicted in the PRISMA flow diagram in Fig. 1 ). Each pregnancy was analyzed as a single case. Maternal, obstetric, and neonatal complications were considered as adverse outcomes that occurred solely during pregnancy or shortly after delivery. Hypercalcemia was defined as total serum calcium exceeding 10.5 mg/dL. Normal range for PTH were defined as 10–65 pg/mL. Calcium values utilized for analysis represented the average of total serum calcium values measured during pregnancy, as ionized calcium was not consistently reported in a significant number of articles. In cases where albumin levels were provided or corrected calcium values were available, the corrected values were utilized for analysis.

figure 1

PRISMA flowchart indicating the process for identification and selection of the included studies. *Other reasons included records in which patients did not have primary hyperparathyroidism during pregnancy

Statistical analysis

Analysis was performed by the Beer-Sheva Faculty of Health Sciences in Israel using Windows GraphPad Prism version 10.2.2. Demographic data is expressed as either raw values or medians and interquartile ranges (IQR) when data did not follow a normal distribution. Statistical significance was assumed as p < 0.05. Differences in complication rates were calculated using the t-test was for quantitative data, and chi-square test for categorical data. Correlation between calcium rates and complication rates was calculated using Pearson’s correlation.

Out of the 348 cases analyzed, 163 (47%) underwent parathyroidectomy (the surgical group), while 185 (53%) were managed conservatively (the non-surgical group). The mean ages were 31 ± 3 and 31.5 ± 3.5 years, respectively. Average total calcium levels for the surgical group were higher, with a median of 12.3 mg/dL (range:11.5–13.3), compared to 11.1 mg/dL (range: 10.7–11.6) in the non-surgical group. Median PTH levels were 137 pg/mL (range: 94–237) and 123 pg/mL (range:71–224) for the respective groups. 61% of the surgical group underwent surgery during the second trimester, 25% during the third trimester, and 7% during the first trimester. (see Table 1 )

In the non-surgical group, most patients were treated using IV fluids. Data regarding specific therapeutic agents and their outcomes were missing for most cases; 18 patients received furosemide, an additional 18 received calcitonin and 15 patients received cinacalcet. Positive results to treatment were described in only 17 patients. Thus, statistically significant results regarding the efficacy of different pharmacological regimens could not be achieved.

Maternal, obstetric, and neonatal complication rates comparing the study arms are presented in Table 2 with the following results: Maternal complications occurred in 19.5% of the entire study population. No significant differences in maternal complication rates were observed between the study arms. The overall obstetric complications were not significantly different between study groups as well, however, subcategory analysis revealed higher rates of preeclampsia/eclampsia and preterm labor in the non-surgical group and higher rates of hyperemesis gravidarum in the surgical group. Rates of pregnancy loss were higher in the non-surgical group, with 15.3% compared to 1.3% in the surgical group. From a total of 22 cases of pregnancy loss, 10 cases described 1st-trimester miscarriage, and the rest did not specify further details. Numbers of neonatal complications were significantly higher in the non-surgical group compared to the surgical group. This difference was evident in transient neonatal hypocalcemia (24.4% vs. 2.7%), hypocalcemic tetany (10.7% vs. none), hypocalcemic convulsions (6.9% vs. none), and ICU admissions (9.9% vs. 3.3%), but not neonatal demise.

A statistically significant positive correlation was observed between serum calcium values and both maternal and obstetric complication rates (p < 0.05), but not neonatal complications (Table 3 ). Nevertheless, complication rates in the non-surgical group were significantly higher across all calcium levels compared with the surgical group (with p < 0.001, as illustrated in Fig. 2 ).

figure 2

Comparison of neonatal complication rates according to calcium stratification between surgical and non-surgical groups. *p-value for the overall data shown is <0.001

Maternal complications

Maternal complications affected 19.5% of the study population in the current study, with no significant difference in complication rates between the surgical and non-surgical groups. Interestingly, maternal complications in the surgical group were not elevated despite the higher mean serum calcium levels. This outcome could potentially be attributed to parathyroidectomy. The variations in calcium levels between the study groups most likely stem from the selection of patients in the higher spectrum of mean serum calcium towards surgical intervention, rather than non-surgical management. Schnatz et al. hypothesized that adverse outcomes in patients selected for surgical intervention could stem from underlying long-term untreated disease rather than from surgery itself [ 31 , 32 ]. The risk of surgery has been reported to be minimal [ 28 , 33 , 34 , 35 ], with curative results in 95–98% of cases [ 9 , 14 , 36 , 37 ]. In the present study, the operation was curative in 98% of cases, with postoperative complications occurring in 4.9%. Specifically, three patients experienced hungry bone syndrome, three suffered from hypocalcemic tetany, one patient had permanent hypoparathyroidism, and one patient experienced transient vocal cord palsy.

Obstetric complications

Obstetric complications resulted in significant differences on a few parameters, namely, preterm delivery, preeclampsia, and pregnancy loss, which occurred at higher rates in the non-surgical group. Additionally, hyperemesis gravidarum occurred at higher rates in the surgical group, most likely due to the early diagnosis of their symptomatic disease and subsequent selection for surgical intervention (Table 2 ). Analysis of the data presented in this article suggests that the increase in pregnancy loss arises from losses that occurred in the first trimester and early second trimester before potential surgical intervention. Consequently, these instances were categorized under the non-surgical group. The pregnancy loss rate for the entire study population was 7.8%, lower than the documented 15% rate for women in the general population aged 30–34 [ 38 , 39 ]. Overall, the current study findings suggest that parathyroidectomy did not significantly alter the overall rates of obstetric complications when compared to non-surgical management, aligning with the conclusions reported previously by Hirsch et al. [ 23 ] and Abood and Vestergaard [ 22 ], however, it may potentially be associated to a reduced risk of preterm delivery and preeclampsia.

Neonatal complications

Neonatal adverse outcomes were significantly more prevalent in the non-surgical group than in the surgical group. The significant difference was evident across all maternal mean calcium values (Fig. 2 ). These results are supported by previously reported data [ 30 , 40 , 41 ]. Sandler et al. that revealed that even in asymptomatic PHPT, infant complications were less prevalent in the surgical group [ 41 ]. The variation in adverse outcomes between the groups primarily consisted of transient postpartum hypocalcemia, hypocalcemic tetany, convulsions, and subsequently, a higher number of ICU admissions. Neonatal hypocalcemia can be severe and prolonged, often necessitating long-term calcium supplementation [ 42 ], with median onset of clinical manifestations at the 11th day postpartum [ 7 ]. Although a significant correlation was observed between calcium values and maternal and obstetric adverse outcomes, no correlation was seen between neonatal complications and mean maternal gestational calcium values, indicating that neonatal adverse outcomes result from complex interactions beyond mean calcium values alone. Neonatal hypocalcemia is attributed to the suppression of parathyroid glands in utero. After birth, the neonate relies on kidney reabsorption and intestinal absorption, facilitated by an active PTH and calcitriol-dependent mechanism [ 3 ]. However, the suppressed parathyroid glands are unable to meet the increased demand, leading to hypocalcemia within the first days to weeks after delivery. During gestation, most calcium is actively transported through the placenta, regulated by PTHrP. 80% of mineral requirements reaches the fetus during the third trimester of pregnancy [ 7 , 43 ]. Notably, PTH itself does not cross the placenta, and it remains uncertain whether the hormone affects the transfer of calcium through the placenta based on animal models [ 3 ]. In this study, most patients in the surgical group underwent parathyroidectomy during the second trimester, indicating their mean gestational calcium during the third trimester remained within normal values. This observation could potentially account for the reduced risk of postpartum neonatal hypocalcemia and its sequelae in the surgical group. However, the limited number of cases specifying post-operative and subsequent gestational serum calcium values made it challenging to draw statistically significant conclusions. Similarly, due to data unavailability, it was impossible to compare the efficacy and outcomes between different non-surgical treatment regimens. Future prospective studies may investigate whether reduced third-trimester calcium values correlate with lower rates of neonatal complications, preferably utilizing ionized calcium, as this marker is more reliable during pregnancy, and compare it with the outcomes of non-surgical management.

Adverse neonatal outcomes were significantly fewer in the surgical group than in the non-surgical group. This difference was evident across all mean maternal gestational calcium values, suggesting that surgical intervention may yield superior neonatal outcomes, regardless of maternal calcium values. Maternal and overall obstetric complication rates did not significantly differ between the study groups. Additionally, the present study identified a positive correlation between maternal and obstetric outcomes and mean maternal gestational calcium levels, consistent with previously published findings. Given the superior neonatal outcomes alongside non-inferior maternal and obstetric outcomes, the overall data presented in this study suggest that parathyroidectomy is favorable over conservative treatment, even in cases of mild primary hyperparathyroidism.

Limitations

The primary limitation of this study was the compilation of a patient database from published sources comprising retrospective studies, case series, and case reports. This method introduced a selection bias toward more severe cases, typically reported in the literature. However, this bias is partially mitigated by including 249 cases identified through retrospective reviews. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that asymptomatic patients and those with PHPT within the normocalcemic range may exhibit lower complication rates than those documented in this study.

Data availability

This article has utilized data from widely available, previously published data. All data supporting the findings of this study are available within the paper and its supplementary information which is available in an online repository ( https://doi.org/10.17632/6vjfskyvzc.2 ). The Search algorithm is depicted in Table 1 , and anonymous case data is in Table 2 of the online repository.

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Shezifi Eli & Zaina Adnan

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Shezifi Eli

Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

Shlomo Gozlan Gal

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The authors E.S. and A.Z. formulated the study conception and design. The author E.S. screened and collected the data for analysis. The author S.G.G. performed the statistical analysis and prepared the tables and figures. All authors reviewed the results and formulated the conclusions for the draft manuscript. The author E.S. wrote the manuscripts. The author A.Z. commented on previous versions and reviewed the final manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Eli, S., Gal, S.G. & Adnan, Z. Comparison between surgical and non-surgical management of primary hyperparathyroidism during pregnancy: a systematic review. Endocrine (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12020-024-03930-0

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Published : 25 June 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s12020-024-03930-0

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Technical Officer (NCDs Health Service Delivery) - (2405155)

Objectives of the programme.

The Department of Healthier Populations and Noncommunicable Diseases (HPN) regionally leads a strategic, evidence-based, country-centred, coordinated action to improve NCD services to achieve SDG target 3.4.1 and contribute to SDG 3.8. The department contributes to provision of guidance and support for strengthened demand for and improving access to quality and affordable essential package of NCD services at primary health and all levels of care as part of integrated people-centred NCD services. Key elements include planning and advocacy, leveraging finance, improving access, quality and use of NCD medicines & products and building NCD workforce capacity to deliver the services. This will be undertaken through supporting focused-countries to implement evidence-based guidelines, tools and technical packages in the South-East Asia Region.

DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES

Under the overall supervision and guidance of Director, Department of Healthier Population and Noncommunicable Diseases (HPN)and in collaboration with the Technical Officer and Regional Adviser (NCD), the incumbent is expected to: 

  • Provide technical support to Member States implementing specific NCD projects (E.g.; Norway, Denmark and any other NCD projects) through WHO country offices in planning and implementing evidence-based and people-centred integrated NCD service delivery in primary health care.
  • Plan and manage regular coordination meetings between the project implementing teams and provide continuous feedback to the country teams and update the HPN department and WHO country offices on the matters relating to projects in countries.
  • Facilitate building capacity of relevant staff and programme implementers for NCD interventions
  • Closely monitor the progress of the project and liaise with country offices and ensure regular compilation of the implementation reports and share with WHO HQ and the donor.
  • Analyze information on NCD service performance measures and other relevant activities to assist the department in monitoring and ensuring coordination of different projects in focus countries.
  • Develop protocols to evaluate the project data and compile implementation reports, write case studies on progress of the Norway Government supported projects and submit to the department and relevant stakeholders on a regular basis and as needed.
  • Share the lessons of projects within the units and collaborate to integrate multiprong approaches to NCD capacity building and delivery of people-centred NCD services at the primary health care level. 
  • Undertake other duties as required by the Supervisor, and the Director.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS

Essential : Degree in Health Sciences with a postgraduate degree in Public Health/preventive and social medicine from a recognized university. Desirable : A post graduate degree in any of the health system building blocks

Essential : At least 5 (Five) years of experience, in the field of public health, preferably in the area of NCDs, with responsibilities for planning, management; and use of advance skills on data analysis and research with some international exposure. Desirable : Experience in project management, research and evaluation in health systems specially in low- and middle-income settings, and teaching/training of health personnel / providers. Experience in UN and other international organisations

Technical and managerial competencies in public health for management of chronic NCDs.

Well-versed in community-based health initiatives.

Leadership skills and ability to establish harmonious relationships with government officials

WHO Competencies

Teamwork Respecting and promoting individual and cultural differences Communication Producing results Ensuring the effective use of resources

Use of Language Skills

Essential : Expert knowledge of English. Desirable :

REMUNERATION

WHO salaries for staff in the Professional category are calculated in US dollars. The remuneration for the above position comprises an annual base salary starting at USD 64,121 (subject to mandatory deductions for pension contributions and health insurance, as applicable), a variable post adjustment, which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station, and currently amounts to USD 2479 per month for the duty station indicated above. Other benefits include 30 days of annual leave, allowances for dependent family members, home leave, and an education grant for dependent children.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • This vacancy notice may be used to fill other similar positions at the same grade level
  • Only candidates under serious consideration will be contacted.
  • A written test and/or an asynchronous video assessment may be used as a form of screening.
  • In the event that your candidature is retained for an interview, you will be required to provide, in advance, a scanned copy of the degree(s)/diploma(s)/certificate(s) required for this position. WHO only considers higher educational qualifications obtained from an institution accredited/recognized in the World Higher Education Database (WHED), a list updated by the International Association of Universities (IAU)/United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The list can be accessed through the link:  http://www.whed.net/ . Some professional certificates may not appear in the WHED and will require individual review.
  • According to article 101, paragraph 3, of the Charter of the United Nations, the paramount consideration in the employment of the staff is the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity. Due regard will be paid to the importance of recruiting the staff on as wide a geographical basis as possible.
  • Any appointment/extension of appointment is subject to WHO Staff Regulations, Staff Rules and Manual.
  • Staff members in other duty stations are encouraged to apply.
  • The WHO is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment of mutual respect. The WHO recruits and employs staff regardless of disability status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, race, marital status, religious, cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, or any other personal characteristics.
  • The WHO is committed to achieving gender parity and geographical diversity in its staff. Women, persons with disabilities, and nationals of unrepresented and underrepresented Member States ( https://www.who.int/careers/diversity-equity-and-inclusion ) are strongly encouraged to apply.
  • Persons with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations to enable participation in the recruitment process. Requests for reasonable accommodation should be sent through an email to  [email protected]
  • An impeccable record for integrity and professional ethical standards is essential. WHO prides itself on a workforce that adheres to the highest ethical and professional standards and that is committed to put the  WHO Values Charter  into practice.
  • WHO has zero tolerance towards sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA), sexual harassment and other types of abusive conduct (i.e., discrimination, abuse of authority and harassment). All members of the WHO workforce have a role to play in promoting a safe and respectful workplace and should report to WHO any actual or suspected cases of SEA, sexual harassment and other types of abusive conduct. To ensure that individuals with a substantiated history of SEA, sexual harassment or other types of abusive conduct are not hired by the Organization, WHO will conduct a background verification of final candidates.
  • Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with WHO and an underlying premise of the international civil service. Candidates appointed to an international post with WHO are subject to mobility and may be assigned to any activity or duty station of the Organization throughout the world.
  • WHO also offers wide range of benefits to staff, including parental leave and attractive flexible work arrangements to help promote a healthy work-life balance and to allow all staff members to express and develop their talents fully.
  • The statutory retirement age for staff appointments is 65 years. For external applicants, only those who are expected to complete the term of appointment will normally be considered.
  • Please note that WHO's contracts are conditional on members of the workforce confirming that they are vaccinated as required by WHO before undertaking a WHO assignment, except where a medical condition does not allow such vaccination, as certified by the WHO Staff Health and Wellbeing Services (SHW). The successful candidate will be asked to provide relevant evidence related to this condition. A copy of the updated vaccination card must be shared with WHO medical service in the medical clearance process. Please note that certain countries require proof of specific vaccinations for entry or exit. For example, official proof /certification of yellow fever vaccination is required to enter many countries. Country-specific vaccine recommendations can be found on the WHO international travel and Staff Health and Wellbeing website. For vaccination-related queries please directly contact SHW directly at  [email protected] .
  • WHO has a smoke-free environment and does not recruit smokers or users of any form of tobacco.
  • For information on WHO's operations please visit:  http://www.who.int.
  • *For WHO General Service staff who do not meet the minimum educational qualifications, please see e-Manual III.4.1, para 220.
  • In case the website does not display properly, please retry by: (i) checking that you have the latest version of the browser installed (Chrome, Edge or Firefox); (ii) clearing your browser history and opening the site in a new browser (not a new tab within the same browser); or (iii) retry accessing the website using Mozilla Firefox browser or using another device. Click this link for detailed guidance on completing job applications:  Instructions for candidates

Contract Duration (Years, Months, Days): 2 years

Closing Date: Jul 18, 2024

Organization: SE/HPN Healthier Populations & Noncommunicable Diseases

Schedule: Full-time

Link to apply:

  • WHO Careers Website:  Careers at WHO
  • Vacancies (staff member access):  https://careers.who.int/careersection/in/jobsearch.ftl  
  • Vacancies (external candidate access):  https://careers.who.int/careersection/ex/jobsearch.ftl

IMAGES

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  1. What Is a Case Study?

    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.

  2. What is a Case Study?

    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. Analysis of qualitative data from case study research can contribute to knowledge development.

  3. Case Study Method: A Step-by-Step Guide for Business Researchers

    Although case studies have been discussed extensively in the literature, little has been written about the specific steps one may use to conduct case study research effectively (Gagnon, 2010; Hancock & Algozzine, 2016).Baskarada (2014) also emphasized the need to have a succinct guideline that can be practically followed as it is actually tough to execute a case study well in practice.

  4. Case Study

    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: Mixed methods case study. For a case study of a wind farm development in a ...

  5. How to Write a Case Study: from Outline to Examples

    1. Draft Structure. 🖋️ Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references. 2. Introduction.

  6. Case study

    A case study focuses on a particular unit - a person, a site, a project. It often uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. Case studies can be particularly useful for understanding how different elements fit together and how different elements (implementation, context and other factors) have produced the observed impacts.

  7. Case Study Methodology of Qualitative Research: Key Attributes and

    A case study is one of the most commonly used methodologies of social research. This article attempts to look into the various dimensions of a case study research strategy, the different epistemological strands which determine the particular case study type and approach adopted in the field, discusses the factors which can enhance the effectiveness of a case study research, and the debate ...

  8. Writing a Case Study

    Case Study Research: Principles and Practices. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education. Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. "The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research."

  9. Writing a Case Study Analysis

    Identify the key problems and issues in the case study. Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1-2 sentences. Background. Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues. Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study. Evaluation of the Case

  10. What Is a Case, and What Is a Case Study?

    Résumé. Case study is a common methodology in the social sciences (management, psychology, science of education, political science, sociology). A lot of methodological papers have been dedicated to case study but, paradoxically, the question "what is a case?" has been less studied.

  11. Top 20 Project Management Case Studies [With Examples]

    The Opera House stands as a symbol of perseverance and successful project management in the face of humankind. 2. The Airbus A380 Project. The Airbus A380 Project is a project management case study showcasing the challenges encountered during developing and producing the world's largest commercial aircraft.

  12. Case Studies and Project Stories :: We Are The Practitioners

    There is a difference between a project story and a case study. The Case Study is short, to the point, and in less than 5 minutes tell you the Problem, Solution and Results. The Project Story is more. We use stories to illustrate the journey of the projects we worked. We go into more detail, with drawings and photographs to illustrate the work.

  13. Case studies in project management : theory versus practice

    Many books, seminars, and courses related to project management are now available from a variety of sources. However, there is still a need for good case studies to help people understand various aspects of project management. Kathy Schwalbe and Vijay Verma have collected and analyzed dozens of recent case studies based on real companies' experiences in managing projects. This paper describes ...

  14. Case Study vs. Research

    Case study and research are both methods used in academic and professional settings to gather information and gain insights. However, they differ in their approach and purpose. A case study is an in-depth analysis of a specific individual, group, or situation, aiming to understand the unique characteristics and dynamics involved.

  15. Case Study vs. Experiment

    A case study involves in-depth analysis of a particular individual, group, or situation, aiming to provide a detailed understanding of a specific phenomenon. On the other hand, an experiment involves manipulating variables and observing the effects on a sample population, aiming to establish cause-and-effect relationships.

  16. Assessment by Case Studies and Scenarios

    Assess the process of analysis. Case studies allow you to assess a student's demonstration of deeper understanding and cognitive skills as they address the case. These skills include, for example: identification of a problem. hypotheses generation. construction of an enquiry plan. interpretation of findings.

  17. PDF Comparing the Five Approaches

    The differences are apparent in terms of emphasis (e.g., more observations in ethnog-raphy, more interviews in grounded theory) and extent of data collection (e.g., only interviews in phenomenology, multiple forms in case study research to provide the in-depth case picture). At the data analysis stage, the differences are most pronounced.

  18. What's the difference between a Project and a Case Study?

    Find out the difference between Case Studies and Projects. On ESI.info a case study entry is written up in a structured way giving 3 sections for the entry write-up: the challenge / what you did / the outcome and benefits. A project on the other hand has a looser format with the options to customise your own headers and create your own structure.

  19. The Differences Between Feasibility Studies and Business Cases

    A feasibility study looks at the technical feasibility, financial feasibility and operational viability of a proposed project. A business case looks at the financials of a new venture to determine if it is financially viable. Both are essential for any organization looking to undertake new projects or initiatives.

  20. Dissertation Versus Project Study: What's the Difference?

    The key difference between a project study and a dissertation is that a project study does not proceed from a research problem. The purpose of a project study is not to add to our understanding of research on a topic. The purpose of a project study is to help solve an existing local real-world problem, which is why project studies are also ...

  21. What is the Difference between a Use Case and a Case Study?

    A Case Study describes in detail the transformations and successes of your client that are all thanks to you. It identifies the situation the client was in before partnering with your company and adopting your solution. It showcases the results the client experienced, such as increasing revenue or saving time.

  22. Case Study vs. White Paper: What's the Difference?

    Due to this focus, and the shorter form, case studies are not typically gated by a form. Case studies can be time-consuming, often requiring internal approvals from the customer and deep research. Due to the increased number of involved parties, putting together a case study can be slow going and may require an extended timeline.

  23. Understanding the Differences Between Dissertation, Thesis, and

    It is usually a shorter and less complex study compared to a dissertation. A thesis may involve original research, but it can also be a literature review, a case study, or a critical analysis of existing research in the field of study. Capstone: A capstone is a culminating project required to complete a degree program.

  24. Why Project-Based Work Fails

    June 19, 2024. Companies of every size across the world are basing more of their work around projects than at any time in the past. But research shows that nearly two-thirds of those efforts fail.

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    News and thought leadership from IBM on business topics including AI, cloud, sustainability and digital transformation.

  26. Inside Project 2025's attack on reproductive rights: IVF

    Some opponents, for example, have elided the difference between the legal definition of "viable" — like that used by Louisiana, which has the most restrictive anti-IVF laws in the country ...

  27. Enhancing Urban-Rural Integration in China: A Comparative Case Study of

    Strengthening urban-rural linkages (URLs) has been proposed by UN-Habitat within the framework of 'Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)' to narrow down urban-rural differences via shaping new urban-rural relationships. Like URL, the aim of urban-rural integration (URI) has been promoted by the Chinese government since 2019 to address existing urban-rural divides. This concept ...

  28. Water

    The safety of mines is a top priority in the mining industry, and a precise assessment of aquifer water levels is crucial for conducting a risk analysis of water-related disasters. Among them, the GIS-based water abundance index method is widely used in water-richness evaluation. However, the existing research lacks sufficient determination of evaluation indicator weights, specifically in the ...

  29. Comparison between surgical and non-surgical management of ...

    Purpose The management of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) during pregnancy may be surgical or conservative. This study compared adverse outcomes between surgical and non-surgical treatments. Additionally, the study investigated the correlation between serum calcium values and complication rates. Methods A systematic review of retrospective studies, case series, and case reports. Biochemical ...

  30. Technical Officer (NCDs Health Service Delivery)

    OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAMMEThe Department of Healthier Populations and Noncommunicable Diseases (HPN) regionally leads a strategic, evidence-based, country-centred, coordinated action to improve NCD services to achieve SDG target 3.4.1 and contribute to SDG 3.8. The department contributes to provision of guidance and support for strengthened demand for and improving access to quality and ...