CASE STUDY GUIDELINES
Writing is essential for two reasons:
- because writing organises and structures your understanding of a subject
- because feedback on your understanding of the subject and the way in which you have structured and organised this understanding can be given only after the attempt to put this in writing has been made.
CASE STUDIES SHOULD STRIVE TO MAKE A POINT THROUGH LOGICAL ARGUMENT - THEY SHOULD NOT BE MERELY DESCRIPTIVE.
An essential part of the essay-writing process for counselling modules is for you to select a topic and focus for your essay. This is likely to be quite different from essays you might have written or might be asked to write for other courses - where you are given the title of the essay. For any kind of academic research, it is up to the individual to go through the process of selecting a focus and aim of his/her work. By requiring this process of you, we believe you are gaining valuable experience relevant to any research you might undertake. The first step is to select a topic in which you are interested and which is relevant to the module. The second step is to 'focus down' and determine specifically (a) what point you wish to make OR (b) what question you wish to answer.
While you are expected to read widely for your essays, you are not expected to cover all the relevant literature in your essay itself. Use the literature to help you with your ideas and to support your arguments. But remember that we are NOT looking for a regurgitation of what everyone else has said about your topic - we are interested in what YOU have to say about it!
If you are uncertain about how to write an essay, you may find the following helpful.
For the purposes of these courses, we insist that you're 'play the academic game' and write your essays in appropriate academic style.
Some guidelines include:
- do not use the first person (T) - for example, instead of 'I think . . .', write 'It is suggested that...'
- make sure your grammar and spelling are correct. The most common errors are incomplete sentences (i.e., a string of words that does not conform to English sentence structure - usually missing the verb) and mixing singular and plural for the same referent (e.g., 'A client [singular] is likely to continue to making the same mistakes they have [plural] always done.')
- do not make unsubstantiated claims and assertions - use supporting references or logical argument
- make sure your essay has a logical structure (see below)
- make sure you make appropriate use of references - do not simply include a lot of quotations that say the same thing you just said. Do not quote large chunks of another's work to say what you want to say!! Use references to help you make a point or support an argument.
The whole of an essay should be RELEVANT to the topic or question.
An essay should:
- be selective of relevant evidence rather than trying to cover everything concerning the topic at a superficial level
- develop logically in terms of both its structure and its arguments
- have a beginning, middle and end.
- The beginning should be short. It should address the topic or question in three ways. It should:
(a) state the problem to be discussed, and the point you intend to make or question you intend to answer
(b) indicate the general sense of any particular terms used rather than give formal definitions (e.g., you might use the terms 'counselling' and 'psychotherapy' I interchangeably; you might use 'he' for the client and 'she' for the counsellor).
(c) distinguish the line of argument to be pursued and indicate the kinds of relevant evidence to be used. It may also be appropriate to explicitly exclude other possible lines of discussion, which you do not intend to pursue in the essay.
- The middle of your essay should develop the argument, citing the selected evidence. It may be necessary to refer to theoretical points of view, which may conflict. !t may be necessary to refer to experimental findings. It will often be necessary to do both. In order to illustrate your argument, it may also be appropriate to include short accounts of how one or two previous studies have been carried out. Tables and diagrams may be helpful. The objectives are to weigh the evidence, to evaluate the arguments, and to reach logical conclusions. Evaluation is your opportunity to express your originality and inventive ideas. You may, if you wish, use sub-headings to help organise your argument - but use these sparingly (i.e., do not use more than 3-4 subheadings; do not use a subheading for just one or two paragraphs)
- The end should follow from the beginning and the middle. It should refer to the problem and state the conclusions that follow from the argument, as definitely or as tentatively as may be appropriate. When the beginning and the middle have been well organised, they will imply the end. The 'end' should be indicated with the subheading 'Conclusion'.
The essay should be followed by a REFERENCE SECTION - a list of the books and articles to which you have referred.
Any appropriate and relevant books/articles, which you have read, should be listed in alphabetical by author's name. For the purposes of essays, you can list any references which are relevant to your topic but which you have not necessarily cited in the text of your essay. (The convention for published work is to include in the reference section only those works, which have been cited in the text of the article.) Make sure that you have included in your reference section ALL works cited in the text of your essay.
PARAGRAPH׃ JUSTIFIED, 1.5 space
LETTERS 12 TIMES NEW ROMAN
In addition to the position of reference components, spacing, underlining/bold, and punctuation are an essential factor in a correct format.
NOTE: Where underlining has been indicated, italics or bold are also acceptable.
Author's Surname, Author's Initials (year of publication). Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher.
Herbert, M (1986). Psychology for Social Workers. London: British Psychological Society.
Author's Surname, Author's Initials (year of publication) Title of article, Title of Journal, Volume number, pages.
Bower, GH (1970) Organisational factors in memory, Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 1, 18-46.
(NOTE: only the first word of the title of the article is capitalised.)
Chapter of Edited Book
Author's Surname, Author's Initial (year of publication). Title of chapter.
'In' Editor's Initial, Editor's Surname, (Eds.), Title of Book. Place of publication: Publisher, pages.
Bolger, T (1989) Research and evaluation in counselling. In W Dryden, D Charles-Edwards, and R Woolfe, (Eds.), Handbook of Counselling in Britain. London: Tavistock/Routledge, 385-400.
Primary and Secondary References
You should make every attempt to cite primary references in both the text of your essay and in your reference section. By 'primary' we mean the original book or article. You will, however, find occasions when you will have to use secondary references (e.g., primary reference not available in libraries). By 'secondary' we mean that your source is a work where an author refers to another piece of work. For example, you may wish to use a quotation by or idea of Rogers, which you found in a book by Mearns. In this case, you should acknowledge this in the text of your essay as:
(Rogers, 19XX, cited in Mearns, 19XX [page number if a direct quotation])
You would then include the Mearns reference in your reference section. If, on the other hand, you are able to find the Rogers work itself, this constitutes a primary reference and is preferable for use in academic writing.
Acknowledging References within Your Essay Direct Quotations
If this is more than a sentence in length, it should be indented and single-spaced. At the end of the quotation, you should write (Author's Surname, Date of Publication, page on which quotation is found).
... (your words) ...
Counselling denotes a professional relationship between a trained counsellor and a client. This relationship is usually person-to-person, although it may sometimes involve more than two people (McLeod, 1994, p 1)
... (your words) ...
If this is a short quotation, it should be part of the main text of the essay and enclosed in quotation marks, again with (Author's Surname, Date of Publication, page on which quotation is found).
... (your words) ... "Some of the most important ideas in counselling and psychotherapy has originated in philosophy." (McLeod, 1994, p 7) ... (your words) ...
If you have written about someone's ideas, study, etc, you must acknowledge this by including the author's name and the date of publication.
As Egan (1993) suggests, ...
YOU WILL LOSE MARKS IF YOU DO NOT REFERENCE YOUR ESSAY PROPERLY!
Work other than your own MUST NOT APPEAR AS YOUR OWN. Those parts of your essay that rely directly or indirectly on the work of another person should ALWAYS be acknowledged both within the text of your essay and in your reference section. Plagiarism will result in failure of an essay and a University Warning.
Your essay must be your own work and in your own words. You will not achieve a pass mark on your essay if you quote and reference large chunks of another's work.
The following criteria are used for essays:
- Makes a Point/Answers a Question
- Use of Argument, Analysis and Evaluation.
- Use of Appropriate Conceptual Framework
- Appropriate Use of Literature
- Understanding Issues
- Clear and Logical Structure
- Assertions supported by references or logical argument
- Balance between use of referenced material and student's own thoughts/ideas
- Use of correct referencing format
- Creative Approach to Material
- Writing Style (academic; professional; clear and flowing)
- Presentation (spelling, grammar, punctuation, layout, etc)