Ieee Case Study Paper For Psychology

Because they facilitate reading and retaining information from articles, many peer-reviewed journals are adopting structured abstracts as their preferred format for abstracts—including the IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication. 

This article:

  1. Explains what structured abstracts are and how they benefit readers
  2. Provides a sample structured abstract
  3. Concludes with a template that authors of Transactions articles should follow when preparing their structured abstracts

About Structured Abstracts

Structured abstracts summarize the key findings reported in an article, as well as the means of reaching them.  Authors write structured abstracts so that readers do not have to read an article in its entirety to learn conclusions or how those conclusions were reached.
Certain types of readers find structured abstracts particularly beneficial:

  • Those who will not read an article in its entirety but need to know the key facts, such as executives, primary investigators on large scale projects, and people trying to keep abreast of the field.
  • Those who have previously read the article in its entirety and need to recall key findings without having to re-read the article, such as researchers conducting a systematic review of the literature.
  • Those who are trying to determine whether or not to read a particular article.

Structured abstracts are similar in format and style to Executive Summaries provided with in-depth engineering and recommendation reports.

Structured abstracts contrast with topic abstracts, which tend to be brief (100 to 150 words, about 100 words shorter than a typical structured abstract) and merely identify the themes addressed by an article, but do not report how the article addresses the themes much less the conclusions reached.

Samples and Guidelines

Sample Structured Abstract—Research Article  and Integrative Literature Review

The following structured abstract summarizes Chen, I. & Chang, C. (2009). Cognitive load theory: an empirical study of anxiety and task performance in language learning. Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, 7(2), 729-746.

Research Problem: The purpose of the study was to explore the assumption that anxiety inhibits performance because working memory is used for worry instead of task-focused thoughts.Research questions:
  1. Does listening comprehension performance correlate with foreign language anxiety and cognitive load?
  2. Does foreign language anxiety correlate with cognitive load during listening comprehension?
  3. Do cognitive load, foreign language anxiety and performance differ due to linguistic ability and perceived difficulty in listening comprehension?

Literature Review:  The purpose of the literature review was to use a two-part framework to examine learning as relying on a limited capacity of memory, and anxiety making unproductive use of such capacity. The researchers reviewed literature in two main areas: cognitive load theory and foreign language anxiety. For education, cognitive load theory focuses on reducing the extraneous workload on limited working memory to increase effectiveness in learning.

Methodology: The researchers conducted a quantitative experiment with 88 students in a northern Taiwanese university at lower-intermediate and higher-elementary English group levels. Researchers administered the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale survey, an intermediate listening comprehension test designed to challenge participants and induce cognitive load, then the Cognitive Load Subjective Rating Scale to rate mental effort used for the test. The researchers compiled the survey scores and test scores and conducted a statistical analysis to look for correlations among the scores.

Results and Conclusions: The researchers found a negative correlation between foreign language anxiety and performance, and between cognitive load and performance. They found a positive correlation between foreign language anxiety and cognitive load. They found a negative correlation between linguistic ability and foreign language anxiety. They found a positive correlation between perceived difficulty and foreign language anxiety and cognitive load.  They found no significant difference in cognitive load between the higher elementary and the lower intermediate participants, however higher elementary had higher anxiety and lower intermediate had higher performance. Based on an analysis of variance and a Scheffe post hoc test, participants who perceived English listening comprehension as medium or difficult had significantly higher anxiety and higher cognitive load than those who perceived it as easy.

The implication of the study is that reducing learner’s perceived difficulty of listening comprehension can reduce their foreign language anxiety which reduces their cognitive load and provides increased working memory to improve performance.

The limitations of the study were a limited sample size, a limited range of participants, and limited types of listening comprehension tasks.

Future research would examine differences caused by longer listening passages or picture descriptions, and could use structural equation modelling to allow for the inference of causal relationships among the variables.


Template for Writing a Structured Abstract—Research Article and Integrative Literature Review

Research problemSummarize your purpose and rationale (1 to 2 sentences)
Research questions:Explicitly state the research questions
Literature review
  • Identify the bodies of literature you consulted
  • Summarize the key points of the review
  • Identify your study as qualitative, quantitative, critical, or mixed
  • Identify your study as case study, experiment, survey or other
  • Describe how you chose participants and how many you used
  • Describe how you chose your location and its type
  • Identify your method of data collection
  • Name your analysis techniques
Results and Conclusions
  • Summarize your answers to the research questions
  • Summarize the implications of your results (1 sentence)
  • Summarize the limitations of your study (1 sentence)

Summarize your suggested future research (1 sentence)

Sample Structured Abstract—Case Study

The following structured abstract summarizes Raju, R. (2012). Intercultural communication training in IT outsourcing in India: A Case Study. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication55(3).

Background: This study examines the nature, manifestations and causes of communication problems in international outsourcing engagements. Specifically, it explores a case of business process outsourcing (BPO), which is the transfer of a number of business processes, such as payroll, supply chain management, and customer relations to an external supplier. In this case, a company based in the US outsourced its business processes to a company in India.Research questions: (1) If widespread proficiency in English is the reason for India’s predominant position in outsourcing, then why do we hear about communication problems? (2) What are the causes of such problems? (3) In what forms and situations do they manifest? (4) How could technical communication offer solutions to ameliorate or minimize some of these communication problems?Situating the case: Similar cases studied include Previous studies of call centers in the Philippines and outsourcing relationships in software companies have challenges in those relationships to problems of intercultural communications, such as language use and differences in culture. Three areas of inquiry informed this study. Intercultural communication theories provide frameworks and touch points for assessing the role of culture in communication. Previous studies of outsourcing and offshoring provided definitions of the broad range of arrangements that comprise outsourcing. Although these studies all concluded that communication is a crucial factor in the success of outsourced projects, they offered few details of communication problems, their causes, manifestations, and possible solutions. Accounts of India represent India as a rapidly-growing, dynamic economy with certain typical communication problems. Methodology: The study was designed as a mixed-methods, single-case study with a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative data were gathered through surveys that helped develop a picture of patterns in areas such as communication problems, preferred methods of communication, and patterns of escalation while qualitative data from 45 personal interviews and one group interview provided insights into the nature and resolution of communication dissonances.About the case: The case studied ABC Corporation, a captive Indian company that performed BPO for a major American corporation. Communication problems that arise in the outsourcing relationship include differences in corporate culture and differences in linguistic and rhetorical choices. Issues causing these problems include differences in education and training.

Results:  Not applicable.

Conclusions: Ongoing training in cross-cultural communication is needed at all stages of the outsourcing cycle, with an emphasis on communication skills in the early stages of the process, especially the hiring stage. Technical communication can offer solutions to these problems because our field can help structure suitable training applying theories such as Cross’ Theory of centripetal and centrifugal forces, which provide frameworks for assessing and addressing communication problems.


Template for Writing a Structured Abstract—Case Study

BackgroundSummarizes the nature and purpose of the case (1 to 2 sentences)
Research question(s)Repeat your research questions
Situating the Case
  • State the purpose of your review
  • Names similar cases in the literature.
  • Identifies key themes from the literature that guided development of the case.

(Approximately 2- 4 sentences total)

  • Indicate whether the case was formally studied as an empirical research project or an experience report
  • Identify your study as qualitative, quantitative, critical, or mixed
  • Describe how you chose participants and how many you used
  • Describe how you chose your location and its type
  • Identify your method of data collection
    • Name the  analysis techniques
About the Case
  • Describes the problem faced (1 sentence).
  • Describes the solution (1-2 sentences).
  • Names the key resources used in the solution (from the Facts about this Case format) (1 sentence)
  • Describes the process for producing the solution and key challenges faced along the way (1-3 sentences)
  • Report the results of the solution (1 sentence)
ConclusionsSummarizes the implications of the completed project (1 sentence)

Sample Structured Abstract—Tutorial

The following structured abstract summarizes

Tuleja, E.A.;   Beamer, L.;   Shum, C.;   & Chan, E.K.Y. (2011.) Designing and Developing Questionnaires for Translation—Tutorial. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 54(4), 392-405.

Problem: Questionnaires are a popular method used by global companies to gain understanding or assess various aspects of their businesses. However, using a questionnaire across cultures requires extra effort in translating it into the target language(s) and culture(s) because a good questionnaire developed in one language/culture may not necessarily “travel well” across cultures due to differences in meaning and interpretation.Research question What is the extant research on cross-cultural communication and surveys, and how can it be applied when preparing cross-cultural questionnaires?Key concepts: Translation affects the design and development of questionnaires to be used across cultures in these ways: (1) It affects the theoretical concepts to be studied: indicators—questions about concrete elements that can be measured and constructs—a series of questions about abstract elements that cannot be measured directly and essentially represent an underlying concept. Constructs must be adapted into a specific cultural context to achieve accuracy in measurements. (2) Differences in the contexts—the overall cross-cultural research context (the setting and the purpose) and the cultural context (the participants and their cultural background) of the study—affect translation because concepts in the source culture might be applied differently or not exist in the target cultures. (3) Translation might unintentionally introduce bias by inadvertently changing the perceived meanings of terms and questions—creating bias in constructs, on individual items on the questionnaire, and in its administration. (4) Translation might affect equivalence of terms in the source and translated versions, including linguistic equivalence (that is, wording of items), semantics (meaning of a phrase or concept), and grammar and syntax.Key lessons: Given these concepts, consider the following items when- – translating questionnaires: (1) accurately adapt or adopt questions from existing instruments, (2) make sure that you adapt the language to suit the situation, (3) hire translators who understand research processes, (4) use the decentering approach (a process in which translators move back and forth amongst the languages, checking for cultural and linguistic accuracy) when preparing the actual translation, and (5) assess your overall translated questionnaire. The questionnaire assessment model is a resource for guiding the assessment.

Implications to practice:  When conducting the same survey in several languages, plan for more than translation—make sure that the translated surveys truly capture equivalent data to the original.


Template for Writing a Structured Abstract—Tutorial

ProblemSummarize your purpose and rationale (1 to 2 sentences)
Research questionRestate the research questions or the problem statement
Key Concepts
  • Name the key themes named in the Key Concepts section
  • For each, provide a 1- to 2-sentence summary of the key point
Key lessons
  • Name the key heuristics named in the Key Lessons section
  • For each, provide a 1- to 2-sentence summary that provides the reader with guidance on how to apply this lesson
Implications to practiceSummarize the implications of this tutorial to practice in 1 to 3 sentences.

Sample Structured Abstract—Teaching Case

The following structured abstract summarizes Bednar, L. (2012). Using a Research in Technical and Scientific Communication Class to teach essential workplace skills. IEEE Transactions on Professional CommunicationEarly Access.

Teaching problem: Undergraduate research at the university level often focuses on the production of a traditional research paper, one with an academic orientation, often information heavy and analysis light, emphasizing the importance of secondary sources and documentation style over the process of inquiry.Research Questions: What approaches to undergraduate research would enable aspiring technical communicators to develop research skills that would better prepare them for success in a professional environment?Situating the case: The approaches described in this paper draw on the work of Mel Levine as presented in , in which he delineates several reasons why young people encounter problems when they enter professional environments: overly managed lives, no experience of delayed gratification, inability to think critically, limited knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses, and an expectation of stability in the so-called adult world. Levine claims that these problems can be addressed by helping students develop a sense of inner direction as opposed to direction from without, an understanding of how to think critically and apply knowledge, a willingness to build and refine skills over time, and competent writing and speaking skills. In addition, the approaches described in this paper draw on three well-established research traditions: mixed methods research, problem-based research, and action research.How this case was studied: This paper describes the experiences of using two approaches to teach Research in Technical and Scientific Communication at a mid-sized state university in Virginia. The material was collected informally over a period of six years of teaching the course—through observation, student feedback, and completed research reports.

About the case: Research in Technical and Scientific Communication required students to produce a research report within the context of real-world inquiry, appropriately focused for a specific audience and purpose, using both primary and secondary sources, and including analysis as well as information. Two approaches were used. The Real Client approach required students to investigate a small-scale, real-world problem or need, which became the focus of a research report that could be submitted to a specific audience for a specific purpose, both identified by the student early in the research process. The Impact of Technology approach required students to consider the impact of technology on modern life, investigate a narrower topic within this broad topic, and prepare a report that could be published in the university magazine or student newspaper. Examples of strong and weak research reports illustrate which features of each approach worked well and which posed challenges.

Results: Overall, students responded well to both approaches, but found the Impact of Technology approach more congenial because it was more familiar to them than the Real Client approach. Nonetheless, with both approaches, but especially with the Real Client approach, students seemed reluctant to make necessary contacts, conduct in-depth interviews, and include well-developed analysis. They were more comfortable gathering information anonymously through secondary source material or online surveys, and presenting that information with a limited amount of analysis.

Conclusions: Both approaches served to move students toward a more realistic understanding of the kind of research needed in professional environments. These approaches also address the concerns raised by Levine. The study was limited by its informal nature, with observations and conclusions resulting from a six-year period of informal experimentation and refinement, during which the requirements for the research report were continually redesigned to better address what students would need to be successful in a workplace.


Template for Writing a Structured Abstract—Teaching Case

BackgroundSummarizes the nature and purpose of the case (1 to 2 sentences)
Research question(s)Repeat your research questions
Situating the Case
  • State the purpose of your review
  • Names similar cases in the literature.
  • Identifies key themes from the literature that guided development of the case.

(Approximately 2- 4 sentences total)

How the Case Was Studied
  • Indicate whether the case was formally studied as an empirical research project or an experience report
  • If the case is empirical, identify your study as qualitative, quantitative, critical, or mixed
  • Describe how you chose participants and how many you used
  • Describe how you chose your location and its type
  • Identify your method of data collection
  • Name your data analysis techniques
About the Case
  • Describes the problem faced (1 sentence).
  • Describes the solution (1-2 sentences).
  • Names the key resources used in the solution (from the Facts about this Case format) (1 sentence)
  • Describes the process for producing the solution and key challenges faced along the way (1-3 sentences)
ResultsReport the results of the solution (1 sentence)
ConclusionsSummarizes the implications of the completed project (1 sentence)


At some point in your study of psychology, you may be required to write a case study. These are often used in clinical cases or in situations when lab research is not possible or practical. In undergraduate courses, these are often based on a real individual, an imagined individual, or a character from a television show, film, or book.

The specific format for a case study can vary greatly. In some instances, your case study will focus solely on the individual of interest.

Other possible requirements include citing relevant research and background information on a particular topic. Always consult with your instructor for a detailed outline of your assignment.

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is an in-depth study of one person, group, or event. Much of Freud's work and theories were developed through the use of individual case studies. Some great examples of case studies in psychology include Anna O, Phineas Gage, and Genie.

In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject's life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes of behavior. The hope is that learning gained from studying one case can be generalized to many others.

Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective and it is sometimes difficult to generalize results to a larger population.

One of the greatest advantages of a case study is that it allows researchers to investigate things that are often difficult to impossible to replicate in a lab.

The case study of Genie, for example, allowed researchers to study whether language could be taught even after critical periods for language development had been missed.

In Genie's case, her horrific abuse had denied her the opportunity to learn language at critical points in her development. This is clearly not something that researchers could ethically replicate, but conducting a case study on Genie allowed researchers the chance to study otherwise impossible to reproduce phenomena.


There are a few different types of case studies that psychologists and other researchers might utilize:

  • Explanatory case studies are often used to do causal investigations. In other words, researchers are interested in looking at factors that may have actually caused certain things to occur.
  • Exploratory case studies are sometimes used as a prelude to further, more in-depth research. This allows researchers to gather more information before developing their research questions and hypotheses.
  • Descriptive case studies involve starting with a descriptive theory. The subjects are then observed and the information gathered is compared to the pre-existing theory.
  • Intrinsic case studies are a type of case study in which the researcher has a personal interest in the case. Jean Piaget's observations of his own children are good examples of how an intrinsic cast study can contribute to the development of a psychological theory.
  • Collective case studies involve studying a group of individuals. Researchers might study a group of people in a certain setting or look at an entire community of people.
  • Instrumental case studies occur when the individual or group allows researchers to understand more than what is initially obvious to observers.


There are also different methods that can be used to conduct a case study:

  • Prospective case study methods are those in which an individual or group of people is observed in order to determine outcomes. For example, a group of individuals might be watched over an extended period of time to observe the progression of a particular disease.
  • Retrospective case study methods are those that involve looking at historical information. For example, researchers might start with an outcome, such as a disease, and then work their way backward to look at information about the individuals life to determine risk factors that may have contributed to the onset of the illness.

Sources of Information Used

There are a number of different sources and methods that researchers can use to gather information about an individual or group. The six major sources that have been identified by researchers are:

  1. Direct observation: This strategy involves observing the subject, often in a natural setting. While an individual observer is sometimes used, it is more common to utilize a group of observers.
  2. Interviews: One of the most important methods for gathering information in case studies. An interview can involves structured survey-type questions or more open-ended questions.
  3. Documents: Letters, newspaper articles, administrative records, etc.
  4. Archival records: Census records, survey records, name lists, etc.
  5. Physical artifacts: Tools, objects, instruments and other artifacts often observed during a direct observation of the subject.
  6. Participant observation: Involves the researcher actually serving as a participant in events and observing the actions and outcomes.

Section 1: A Case History

1. Background Information

The first section of your paper will present your client's background. Include factors such as age, gender, work, health status, family mental health history, family and social relationships, drug and alcohol history, life difficulties, goals, and coping skills and weaknesses.

2. Description of the Presenting Problem

In the next section of your case study, you will describe the problem or symptoms that the client presented with. Describe any physical, emotional, or sensory symptoms reported by the client. Thoughts, feelings, and perceptions related to the symptoms should also be noted. Any screening or diagnostic assessments that are used should also be described in detail and all scores reported.

3. Your Diagnosis

Provide your diagnosis and give the appropriate Diagnostic and Statistical Manual code. Explain how you reached your diagnosis, how the clients symptoms fit the diagnostic criteria for the disorder(s), or any possible difficulties in reaching a diagnosis.

Section 2: The Intervention

The second section of your paper will focus on the intervention used to help the client. Your instructor might require you to choose from a particular theoretical approach or ask you to summarize two or more possible treatment approaches.

Some of the possible treatment approaches you might choose to explore include:

1. Psychoanalytic Approach

Describe how a psychoanalytic therapist would view the client's problem. Provide some background on the psychoanalytic approach and cite relevant references. Explain how psychoanalytic therapy would be used to treat the client, how the client would respond to therapy, and the effectiveness of this treatment approach.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Approach

Explain how a cognitive-behavioral therapist would approach treatment. Offer background information on cognitive-behavioral therapy and describe the treatment sessions, client response, and outcome of this type of treatment. Make note of any difficulties or successes encountered by your client during treatment.

3. Humanistic Approach

Describe a humanistic approach that could be used to treat your client, such as client-centered therapy. Provide information on the type of treatment you chose, the client's reaction to the treatment, and the end result of this approach. Explain why the treatment was successful or unsuccessful.


  • Do not refer to the subject of your case study as "the client." Instead, use his or her name or a pseudonym.
  • Remember to use APA format when citing references.
  • Read examples of case studies to gain and idea about the style and format.

A Word From Verywell

Case studies can be a useful research tool but they need to be used wisely. In many cases, they are best utilized in situations where conducting an experiment would be difficult or impossible. They can be helpful for looking at unique situations and allow researchers to gather a great deal of information about a specific individual or group of people.

If you have been directed to write a case study for a psychology course, be sure to check with your instructor for any specific guidelines that you are required to follow.


Gagnon, YC. The Case Study as a Research Method: A Practical Handbook. Quebec: PUQ; 2010.

Yin, RK. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Sage Publications; 2013.

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