Guidelines for Submitting a Case

The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo welcomes case submissions for its web-based case collection. We accept cases in all areas of science including the life sciences, physical sciences (including chemistry, physics, and earth science), engineering, mathematics, statistics, computer science, psychology, anthropology, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and science education, among others.

We have created a web page that defines and describes different types of cases to guide you.

In addition, you can browse the following two sample cases and their teaching notes:

  • Mask of the Black God: The Pleiades in Navajo Cosmology: case and teaching notes This case is an example of a small-group discussion case.
  • The Modern Caveman's Dilemma: Who Should Eat the Paleo Diet: case and teaching notes This case is an example of a role-play interrupted case.

Sending Us Your Case

You can send us your cases via email to the following email address:, noting in the subject line of your message the following: “New Case Submission: Name of Your Case.”

Your submission should be in the form of several, separate files, preferably in Word.  These should include:

  • The case itself (this is the case as the students would receive it in class),
  • Case teaching notes (see below for more information), and
  • An answer key (as appropriate).

Teaching Notes

Cases are not complete unless they are accompanied by detailed teaching notes. We cannot meaningfully review your case without them, and teachers considering using your case need them to understand your intended learning objectives and goals for the case and how you teach it. Below are some guidelines. We also encourage you to take a look at the teaching notes for cases on our site as examples.

Introduction/Background: This section should begin with a brief summary of the content or topic of the case and its importance. It is also helpful to include here a two- to three-sentence synopsis or summary of the storyline of your case (e.g., Emily Norman, a registered nurse assigned to a six-person team ascending Mt. Denali in Alaska, is faced with...  ...The ailing climber's condition rapidly deteriorates and he has to be evacuated from the mountain by helicopter to a local hospital....). This section should also tell us what, if any, prerequisite knowledge or background the students should have before undertaking this case and where in the sequence of the course/class/subject area you would teach it. Also tell us what course you developed the case for and what other courses it might be appropriate for or easily adapted to. As part of this section, you should include a bulleted list of your teaching objectives for the case, being as specific as possible.

Classroom Management: Here we would like you to be as detailed as possible, telling us how you taught this class, including any variations. What instructions were the students given, what were their tasks, in what sequential order? How long does each part of the case or case activity take, approximately? Do students get the entire case all at once or piecemeal? Is the case spread out over more than one class session? If so, how many? Do the students discuss the questions in groups? Is there a general class discussion as well? Give us timing for each activity and sequence, etc., etc.  In this section, tell us also if you developed any written assignments that go along with and/or any follow-up assignments for the case and how you assessed the students' case work.

Blocks of Analysis: This is where you would give us some detail about the scientific concepts, principles, issues, topics, etc., of the case in blocks (if it were a case on pulmonary edema at high altitudes, for example, there might be subsections labeled “High-Altitude Sickness,” “Pulmonary Response,” etc.) and then discuss each a bit. This need not be exhaustive, but should give enough information for someone considering teaching the case to develop background knowledge in each major content area of the case.

References: The sources you consulted in developing your cases as well as recommended further reading if appropriate.

Answer Key

The answer key should repeat the questions in the case, if there are any, and then, for each question, provide a reasonable answer. In those instances where a case does not include standard questions but instead requires students to perform a task (draw a diagram, graph some data, write a brief essay), the key should make explicit what the task is trying to accomplish and provide guidelines for what constitutes an acceptable response and/or provide a sample (either from the teacher or actual student examples).

Copyrighted Material

If your case contains copyrighted material (images, graphs or extensive text taken verbatim) from a previously published source or the Internet, please flag that material for us at the time you submit your case. Tell us where it comes from (a complete citation, the URL for the website, etc.) so that we can determine who we should contact to secure permission to publish it as part of your case on our website.

But note this:

  • We seldom get permission to use any photos or diagrams from textbooks. Do not use these in your case material.
  • Figures from journals often, though not always, are difficult to obtain permission to use; they should be kept to a minimum or should be redrawn and simplified if possible.
  • Our overwhelming preference is for authors to submit photos or illustrations of their own creation; second best is to use public domain or items that are copyright-friendly to the project—this generally means things that are accompanied with something like a Creative Commons license, or from sites that have liberal reuse policies explicitly stated somewhere on their site that we can verify. One of your best sources for this kind of material that we highly recommend is Wikimedia Commons. Flickr has a portion of its site at devoted to Creative Commons licensed images. These images are sorted by license type and are easily searchable. Google’s Advanced Search features will also allow you to isolate Creative Commons licensed images. Go to: and enter your keywords in the top boxes, then scroll down to the bottom and set the filter for “usage rights” to “free to use, share and modify, even commercially." Note that for CC-licensed materials, you are looking for material that has one of the designations below:

      CC BY: This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the work, even commercially, as long as they provide credit (attribution) for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered.  All we have to do to use the material licensed this way is cite the creator, unless the creator has tacked on some other condition.
      CC BY-NC: This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially; all that is required is that the new work (your case) provides acknowledgement of the creator and also that the use be non-commercial. We are a not-for-profit entity and so therefore non-commercial.

  • When necessary, we will use items from stock houses, but we try to avoid it because generally they charge a fee and we don’t have funds for this. Two that we do make frequent use of are and Only in very unusual circumstances would we use Shutterstock—usually we can find the same thing or something similar elsewhere.

Peer Review

Our collection is peer reviewed. All cases submitted to us are first reviewed in-house by us. At this stage, we may send it back to you for further work. Once we feel your draft is ready, we will send it out to be reviewed following a double-blind peer-review process. Typically, we use two, often three, outside reviewers with expertise in the subject area of the case and experience in teaching science using the case method.  We give outside reviewers two to three weeks to complete their review. After we have reviewed the external reviewers' comments, we will forward them to you and ask you to consider them as you revise your case.  After these revisions and resubmission of the case, we will make a decision as to whether we accept it for the collection.

Transferring Copyright

If we accept your case, as a final step we will send you a copyright transfer form to sign and return to us. This form serves to formally transfer copyright for your case and teaching notes to the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science at the University at Buffalo. In addition, in signing this form you warrant that the case submitted is your own work and does not infringe upon anyone else’s copyright.

Final Stages of Publication

Once we accept your case, it will be prepared for our website. We will edit your case, then lay it out and create several PDFs files, which we will send you for final proofing. Once we make any corrections, additions, or changes you may have, we will index it, upload it to the site, and announce it on our listserv. Please keep in mind that we consider the cases on our website to be dynamic, subject to change and refinement. We are happy to incorporate new material or make corrections or changes as new developments are made in the field of the case topic or after you have taught the case a couple of times and have made modifications or developed new formats to present the case material.

Permitted Uses

See our document, Permitted Uses, for guidelines for allowable uses of our cases, which we have formulated as the copyright holder for the cases in our collection.


If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Schiller, Co-Director, National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, at