Writing Case Reports
A thorough case report must be supported by a robust literature review. After the purpose of the case report is determined, the next step is to locate supporting evidence. The following sites provide tips for conducting a successful literature review:
The Literature Review: A Few Tips on Conducting It (The University of Toronto)
Video: Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students (North Carolina State University)
Once you understand more about the literature review process, visit the USA Library website to get started. The Resources tab on the library's home page provides access to the research databases to which the library subscribes as well as eBooks, Videos & Interactive Tools, Journal Finder and Full-Text Tools. An excellent database to start is PubMed, which is a free, public citation and abstract database maintained by the National Institute of Health and the National Library of Medicine. In addition to offering thousands of citations and abstracts, you can connect to any full text the USA library offers immediately through the USA shield icon.
The library subscribes to several research databases, such as ProQuest, Gale PowerSearch, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. If you’ve found a specific article citation, you can verify whether the library provides full-text access to it using one of our full text tools. If USA does not provide full-text access, please contact the library to request the article via Interlibrary Loan (ILL).
After supporting literature has been compiled, a case report can then be formed. A basic case report is usually comprised of the following (or similar) sections: Background and Purpose, Case Description, Intervention, Outcomes, and Discussion. Be sure to review the faculty-provided grading rubric, both at the start of and throughout the case report process. The University of St. Augustine has recorded a series of videos discussing its standards for case reports.
The writing style for a clinical case report differs somewhat from traditional academic writing, in that it often incorporates terms, techniques, and situations unique to a clinical setting. However, it is important to write in an academic voice, not in “clinical speak.” Spell out acronyms upon the first use, and avoid using abbreviated versions of clinical terms. Always use a 3rd person voice, and try to be concise in descriptive passages. And, as with all types of writing, pay special attention to grammar and spelling. The following texts and sites provide in-depth discussions of graduate-level writing, and of scientific writing:
Teaching Graduate Students How To Write Clearly by Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, 2009
Scientific Writing Booklet (University of Arizona)
Style Points for Scientific Writing (University of Washington)
Writing Support by Grammarly@EDU grammar check tool is now available to all students and faculty. Grammarly@EDU is an automated grammar tutor and writing revision tool for academic writing. After going to Grammarly.com/EDU, click the Sign Up link toward the top of the page. Use your school email to register — it's FREE!
For supporting evidence, citations must be provided, both in-text and in a list of references at the end of the report. Depending on what citation style is required for the report, in-text citations may take the form of an author’s name and date in parentheses at the end of a sentence, a footnote, or a superscripted endnote. In-text citations must be used each and every time another author’s work is mentioned in the case report.
The in-text citations will be listed in full either in the references page or in the footnotes. The USA Writing Center provides citation guides for the American Psychological Association (APA), American Medical Association (AMA), and Vancouver citation styles, and also provides full online access to the AMA Manual of Style. More citation information can be found in the following locations: