Title For Case Study Thesis

Guidelines for Writing a Case Study Analysis

A case study analysis requires you to investigate a business problem, examine the alternative solutions, and propose the most effective solution using supporting evidence. To see an annotated sample of a Case Study Analysis, click here.

Preparing the Case

Before you begin writing, follow these guidelines to help you prepare and understand the case study:

  1. Read and examine the case thoroughly
    • Take notes, highlight relevant facts, underline key problems.
  2. Focus your analysis
    • Identify two to five key problems
    • Why do they exist?
    • How do they impact the organization?
    • Who is responsible for them?
  3. Uncover possible solutions
    • Review course readings, discussions, outside research, your experience.
  4. Select the best solution
    • Consider strong supporting evidence, pros, and cons: is this solution realistic?

Drafting the Case

Once you have gathered the necessary information, a draft of your analysis should include these sections:

  1. Introduction
    • 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.
  2. Background
    • Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues.
    • Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study.
  3. Alternatives
    • Outline possible alternatives (not necessarily all of them)
    • Explain why alternatives were rejected
    • Constraints/reasons
    • Why are alternatives not possible at this time?
  4. Proposed Solution
    • Provide one specific and realistic solution
    • Explain why this solution was chosen
    • Support this solution with solid evidence
    • Concepts from class (text readings, discussions, lectures)
    • Outside research
    • Personal experience (anecdotes)
  5. Recommendations
    • Determine and discuss specific strategies for accomplishing the proposed solution.
    • If applicable, recommend further action to resolve some of the issues
    • What should be done and who should do it?

Finalizing the Case

After you have composed the first draft of your case study analysis, read through it to check for any gaps or inconsistencies in content or structure: Is your thesis statement clear and direct? Have you provided solid evidence? Is any component from the analysis missing?

When you make the necessary revisions, proofread and edit your analysis before submitting the final draft. (Refer to Proofreading and Editing Strategies to guide you at this stage).

Research Data Management (RDM) is an overarching term encompassing the organisation, storage, and documentation of data generated during research projects. RDM deals with the organisation and curation of active research data, with its day-to-day management and use, and with its long-term preservation.
RDM is an important practice for both institutions and individual researchers. Data supporting results should be made available and preserved so as to allow its reuse and the verification of published research. Several other benefits can arise from the implementation of RDM, including increased citations, increased research collaborations, or increased visibility. Today, data has to be managed not only for preservation purposes, but also to fulfil the requirements of most research funders.
Although RDM has been around for a while, the above benefits are usually described qualitatively and the lack of a solid body of evidence makes advocacy difficult. We have sought to fill this gap by using case studies to present a rich and varied picture of the impacts underpinned by RDM.

The case studies assembled here come from a wide range of research fields. Due to inherent differences between disciplines, the benefits of RDM become apparent in different ways. They are more tangible in certain fields, and more abstract in others. Nonetheless, the case studies demonstrate that RDM is a worthwhile activity for all institutions and researchers.
The examples below mostly involve large data management initiatives, as these are more likely to show the wide reach of the benefits of RDM. However, we would like to stress that even smaller data management efforts can have an impact. Unfortunately, this can be very difficult to track, as an individual researcher reusing data from other individual researchers is often lost in a sea of information. Similarly, impact sometimes cannot be traced to a specific source: in some studies, clear evidence of the impact of RDM is available, but they point to a whole repository rather than to a single study or dataset.

The effective implementation of RDM requires both cultural change and specific data skills. This makes its dissemination and practical realisation difficult and is the main obstacle to the above-mentioned benefits. It is, therefore, desirable to examine the RDM environment to investigate its enablers and what has worked historically to encourage future data curation and reuse.
Our research into the benefits or RDM led us to discovering some of the circumstances and situations that facilitate it, along with some of the reasons why this practice should be pursued. A summary of our findings is as follows:

  • Open licensing (e.g., in the case of computer code and algorithms) is essential to allow crowd-sourced improvements.
  • Data repositories and infrastructures are among the most significant enablers of impact: without them, very few of the impact case studies below would have been possible.
  • Collaborations between international bodies or organisations strongly promote data re-use, especially in fields where it was not possible for a single player to take charge. These collaborations create the right environment for sharing and re-use of research data: cultural change is encouraged along with the use of joint infrastructures at a national or international level.
  • The impact of RDM is normally seen after a long time, when, i.e., after has been produced, curated, maintained, and reused. Thus, there is a need for sustained investment in this field, as benefits cannot be seen immediately.
  • Aggregation of data and digitisation of documents are key to encouraging the development of digital humanities. These initiatives often arise from the collaboration between museums, research libraries, and universities. When data that was spread between several sources (e.g., many different books/articles) or held in obsolete formats was organised and analysed through sound RDM, hidden findings could be uncovered. The case studies are grouped into Long Form—more detailed with abstracts etc.— and Short Form. In all cases key information is presented in a table after the text.

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

1: Neurodegeneration and Dementia Research

Leveraging data from cohort studies to accelerate medical progress

Dementia and neurodegenerative diseases affect both individuals and society as a whole. However, neither cures nor treatments are available at the moment. The Dementias Platforms UK collaboration aims to turn dementia research into treatments as quickly as possible, to both improve people's lives and decrease the socioeconomic cost related to these types of diseases

dementia; Alzheimer; cohort studies

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES

Impact on health and wellbeing

850,000 people with Dementia, £53 million project (DPUK), £6.9 million project financed using DPUK

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

2: Biological Data Mining

Difficulties in data handling in the field of biology

Biologists often need to deal with heterogeneous data sources, which makes their work difficult and time-consuming. The InterMine system provides an easy-to-use data warehouse solution that biologists can exploit for their studies with little programming knowledge.

biology; data warehouse; data mining

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed); Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort)

3: Gene Expression Omnibus Data to Fight Cancer

Systems biology and enhanced cancer diagnosis

Sharing genomic data on the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) repository has a significant impact on medical research and improves the efficiency of the publishing environment. New approaches to cancer research were developed, including a novel method of diagnosis based on the study of exosomes.

medical research; cancer; repository; publishing

65,000 results from Google Scholar

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact

Researchers joining forces to sequence bacterial genomes

During the 2011 E.coli outbreak, the release of the bacterial genome in the public domain allowed researchers to reach conclusions quickly and effectively. The strain was tracked to a seed shipment from 2009 and the crow-sourced analysis received high media attention.

infection; e.coli; outbreak

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES

Impact on health and wellbeing

17 authors working in a crowdsourcing effort;
12 academic publications;
8 media outlets covering the initiative;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed); Socio/Economic impact

Citation patterns in granted patents in the field of biology

The analysis of data citation patterns in the field of biology showed how over 8,000 patents were based on publicly available data. While this proves the usefulness of repositories as a whole, it also shows how the evaluation of researchers should consider data citations and alternative sources, too, as these are often key to uncover the broader industrial and societal value of academic research.

citations; patents; text mining

Impact on economy and business

8,000 patents thanks to open data

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

6: Sharing Research Data and Infrastructure to Study Proteins

A research group's impact on the study of circular dichroism

The DICHROWEB and PCDDB platforms are widely used for the study of proteins. Since their release, hundreds of thousands of users accessed them, from both academia and the private sector. In academia, the platforms fuel research and teaching, while they led to several advances in industry, including the development of 11 patents.

protein; repository; infrastructure

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES

Impact on health and wellbeing

375,000 analyses;
3,600 registered users;
over 1,000 citations;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort)

7: Using Flies to Understand The Human Brain

Harvesting published data to power neurobiology research

Studying the brain of fruit flies is helping researchers uncover how our brains work at the molecular level. Data repositories such as the Virtual Fly Brain help them curate, share, and re-use data in a structured way.

neurobiology; medicine; fly; brain;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

8: A Data-Based Approach to Preventing Curable Eye Diseases

Leveraging data to inform health policies

The Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG) gathered and released data on vision loss all around the world. The data is localised, which means that every country can tackle local issues to reduce the burden of eye loss. The findings of the VLEG are far-reaching and were picked up by large organisations such as PwC, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum, shaping policies, debates, and educations programmes worldwide.

ophthalmology; eye health; VLEG; GBD

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES

Impact on health and wellbeing; Impact on public services; Impact on politics and governance

15,000 articles harvested;
$2.2 per capita to eliminate avoidable blindness in developing countries by 2020;
collaboration between 79 scientists;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort)

9: Self Compacting Concrete

Advancements in engineering led by data aggregation

Data from over 250 academic sources was aggregated in the form of a database and used to inform future design of self-compacting concrete. This large-scale study allowed researchers to precisely describe the differences between self-compacting concrete and "traditional" vibrated concrete.

concrete; database; self-compacting

250 articles;
1500 concrete mixtures analysed;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

10: Preventing Drug Interactions On Your Mobile

Novel tools for patients and healthcare professionals

The iChart apps developed by the University of Liverpool help clinicians and patients with HIV or hepatitis C better deal with drug interactions. The apps allow clear and ubiquitous access to research data that has been arranged for maximum effectiveness and dissemination, thus, improving patient response and reducing the side effects experienced. In addition, clinicians can save time, as all the information they need is now available directly on their smartphones.

hiv; hepatitis; drug interactions

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES

Impact on health and wellbeing

128 countries;
17,000 downloads;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed); Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact

11: Meeting Sustainability Objectives

Reducing carbon emissions from agricultural production

Meeting sustainability objectives is becoming increasingly important to reduce the impact of global warming. The field of agriculture has been deemed responsible for a third of our greenhouse emissions, thus, resources such as the Cool Farm Tool are essential to help people in the sector understand how they can reduce their environmental impact.

agriculture; carbon footprint;

800 global datasets for N2O;
100 global datasets for soil carbon sequestrations;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

12: Finding Offshore Hydrocarbons

Leveraging satellite data to improve the efficiency of exploration

Satellite data has been re-used to produced a more up-to-date and precise dataset helping with offshore exploration. The improved gravity data prepared by the researchers has shown a very high potential and is estimated to be 10% more accurate than previously-available work. The dataset has been used by major oil companies to drive decision-making and improve the safety of their exploration efforts.

oil; exploration; gravity

Impact on economy and business; Environmental impact

$2.5 million per project
£1.2 million received
10% improvement compared to previous data

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact

13: Geological Data Made Easy

The British Geological Survey and the OpenGeoscience portal

Geological data was released by the British Geological Survey to align their resources to the principles of open science. Their efforts took the form of the OpenGeoscience portal, where data is shared through an Open Government License. Users of OpenGeoscience resources are encouraged to reshape the data to develop new products, called mash-ups, and more than 20 of these are available on the BGS website.

Impact on economy and business; Environmental impact

Over 20 mash-ups (projects derived from OpenGeoscience data)

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

14: Protecting The Oceans By Coordinating Data Sharing Efforts

UNESCO’s efforts to preserve marine environments

UNESCO's efforts to protect marine environments materialised with the creation of IODE in 1961. The programme aims to improve data management in the field and to guide and coordinate the data gathering work by a large number of countries. Such a high-level initiative allows data to be shared very effectively, as no country could possibly gather so much information on its own. In addition,

marine; ocean; coordination; unesco

Environmental impact; Impact on politics and governance; Impact on economy and business

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Socio/Economic impact; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort)

15: Corruption in Public Sector Procurement

Digital whistleblowing to quantify the cost of corruption

The DIGIWHIST project gathered and elaborated information on public procurement and accountability of public officials within the EU and in neighbouring countries. This was picked up by the European Commission, which released a study showing how corruption may cost Europe up to €990 billion per year.

corruption; european commission; transparency; public sector

Impact on politics and governance; Impact on public services; Impact on economy and business

up to €990 billion lost to corruption yearly

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

Using unmanned aerial vehicles to power new approaches to scientific investigations

Drones are becoming a constant presence in technology news and media, thus, it is not surprising that they also caught the attention of the research community. Drones allow researchers to capture aerial images easily and at a low cost, however, the data they gather needs to be properly curated to allow any applications. In the field of agriculture, drone-captured datasets are being used to spot plant diseases and help farmers better protect their yields. In addition, drone time-stamped drone image sets have been used to study how to best protect crops and land from floods.

AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES

Impact on economy and business; Economic; Environmental

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

17: Data-Enhanced Archaeology

Using modern tools to study ancient times

In the field of archaeology, data is scarce and difficult to find. This is simply because it usually comes from excavations or physical operations on artefacts, which are normally expensive and can be performed only in certain conditions. The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) aims to fill the gap by freely providing more than 1.3 million metadata records on archaeological data and by driving developments in research data management in the field. The service enables increased efficiency thanks to data reuse and this is valued at at least £13 million per annum.

archaeological data; repository

£13 million per annum savings due to increased efficiency;
2-fold to 8-fold return on investment;
44% of interviewed stakeholders could not have carried out their work without the ADS;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

18: Supporting Science and Industry by Sharing Computer Code

Sharing software as a form of research data

Sharing software is not as common as sharing other types of research data, however, it is sometimes very impactful. The Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) software in the field of neuroimaging is an example of how sharing computer code can lead to far-reaching effects. In this case, making the code public allowed the creation of a new field of study and led the software to become the leader in the sector. In addition, thanks to the licensing chosen, some companies were able to exploit the code to create derivative products, which are generating substantial income, while major pharmaceutical companies are using it in the field of drug research.

software; code; algorithms

MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES

Economic; Technological; Health

64% of users in the field use the software;
€5,000 for each license (software derived from sharing);

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

19: Citizen Science at Zooniverse

Sharing data and efforts via an online platform

It is not always easy to deal with large amounts of data. At times, algorithms can help researchers make sense of their large datasets, however, sometimes the human mind cannot be replaced. In these cases, platforms like Zooniverse come to the researchers' help, allowing them to have citizen volunteers analyse scientific data and enable new scientific discoveries. More than 130 articles were published thanks to citizen science, showing how wise research data management can allow the crowd-sourcing of scientific research.

crowd-sourced research; citizen science

INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES

More than 130 articles published;
Over 1.5 million registered volunteers;
At least 58 web-based citizen science projects;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

The link between disciplines that seem diametrically opposed

Access to ancient books, manuscripts, and artefacts is often limited due to their fragility and importance. In addition, they are spread between several locations, which makes the work of historians difficult. The digitisation of heritage data by the British History Online digital library bridges the gap by making material available to researchers from all over the world. The application of research data management in this field led to changes in the researchers' workflow and earned the library a large number of citations in the academic literature and mentions in the news.

British history; digitisation; library

330,000 unique visitors a month;
1,410 Google Scholar results;
9 mentions in news;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact; Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

21: Saving the Earth from Mankind

How can we preserve Earth and develop sustainably?

Our planet needs to be protected, as human development tends to ignore sustainability and the effect business has on the environment and on biodiversity. Luckily, things are slowly changing, and better decisions and policies supported by research data can now be made. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) plays a critical role in enabling sustainable development by hosting evidence on more than 1.6 million species and its data is featured in more than 1,400 research papers. GBIF data is used by scientists, policymakers, and journalists alike.

biodiversity; environment; sustainable development

Political; Economic; Environmental

Evidence on more than 1.6 million species;
1,400 peer-reviewed articles citing GBIF data;
81 countries;

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Methodological impact (e.g., new approaches developed)

22: Understanding Mobile Users and Evaluating Vulnerabilities

User data as an investigation tool

The Device Analyzer project gathers data on smartphone usage and curates it for re-use by companies, universities, and research institutes. The project's data led to the development of important statistics on the vulnerability of smartphones using the Android operating system. The researchers found that this is related to the slow pace of system updates and only manufacturers have the tools to address the problem.

Android; smartphone; mobile phones

INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES

30,978 contributors; 87.7% of Android devices are exposed to at least one of 11 known critical vulnerabilities

Maturity of the initiative/data source

Year (e.g., first data release, first output, year of impact)

Type of RDM impact/benefit

Reproducibility; Efficiency in research and data re-use (e.g., reduce duplication of effort); Socio/Economic impact

Data-powered insights into the motives and consequences of war

In the world, there are currently 58 ongoing conflicts. These cause tens of thousands of fatalities each year and are related to reasons that are obscure, complex, and often difficult to understand. Researchers and political scientists have been trying to uncover the reasons for war for a long time. Today, they can leverage data to explain conflicts, and geotagged datasets can be organised to build visualisations that greatly facilitate the understanding of contexts and actors in a war. The use of research data management is instrumental in helping us fully grasp the reasons for conflicts and, hopefully, preventing future ones.

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