Guidelines – Case Studies

Case Reports are an in-depth study of one individual. Case Series are reports involving more than 1 and no more than 5 patients of a similar situation. A prospective case study involves following an individual over time and observing outcomes whereas a retrospective case study involves looking at historical information on the individual to determine if there is a presence of risk factors that may have contributed to the outcome of interest. Case reports should include a critical review of relevant literature including search strategies used, description of case and its uniqueness in context to the literature review presentation of different clinical outcomes and management strategies where applicable, and implications for clinical practice.

Important for this type of submission is informed consent for each patient represented in each submitted manuscript in order to maintain patient confidentiality. Please view more information on the informed consent requirements in the Informed Consent and Human/Animal Rights Section.


Order of Sections

  1. Title Page
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction and Patient Profile
  4. Interventions and Outcomes
  5. Discussion
  6. Bulleted Learning Points
  7. References
  8. Illustrations (Figure/Tables)


Manuscript Limits

  1. Total Length: up to 1000 words (not including abstract, illustrations, and references)
  2. Abstract Length: up to 150 words
  3. Table/Figure Limits: up to 3 tables and figures
  4. Bulleted Learning Points: minimum of 3 required, maximum of 6 (30 word max per point)
  5. References: up to 15 references


Title Page

The title page should carry the following information:

    • Article Title (concise information about the study, limited to 100 characters)
    • Author Names (Mark D. Smith B.S.1*, Jeremy Michael Howes M.S.2, Jessica P. Masters M.D. Ph. D.1,2)
    • Institutional Affiliations of all authors in order of appearance in author names (1 College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA. 2 Dept. of Internal Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA)
    • Contact information for corresponding author(s) including address, email, phone, and fax. The corresponding author should indicate clearly whether his or her e-mail address can be published. Corresponding author(s) is indicated with asterisk by name in author listing; the medical students should be corresponding author.
    • Short Title (50 character limit shorter title for headers)
    • Key Phrases – Relevant words or short phrases that aid search engines or indexes in finding your work (use MeSH headings if possible). Use key phrases that are not present in the title. Maximum of 6, e.g. (Pemphigus, Bullous Skin Disorder, Autoimmune, Blistering, Skin Diseases, Monoclonal Antibody)
    • Disclaimers, if any
    • Word Count: Abstract and Body (excluding abstract, illustrations, and references)
    • Table and Figure Count
    • Source(s) of support in the form of grants, equipment, drugs, or all of these
    • Conflict of Interest Statement



Abstracts are the only substantive portion of the article indexed in many electronic databases, and the only portion many readers read. Authors must be careful that they accurately reflect the content of the article in the abstract. This description should include:

  • Context or background for the study
  • Purpose, basic procedures, main findings, and principal conclusions
  • Emphasis on new and important aspects of the study or observations
  • No references, illustrations, or references to illustrations are allowed in the abstract
  • The abstract should be structured with similar headings as in the main article (e.g. introduction, patient profile, interventions, conclusions)


Introduction and Patient Profile

This section provides information on the disease and its understanding in the current literature. It provides a context or background for the study including the nature of the problem and its significance to medical learners and scientists. Here, the article introduces the patient and the presentation, including history and physical exam. Important or compelling images may be referenced here to better understand the novelty of this patient and their disease manifestation. The goal is to provide enough information for the readers to form their own opinion and differential diagnosis, without being elusive or misleading.


Interventions and Outcomes

Describe the interventions and course of treatment with patient outcomes up to the last known interaction in a logical order. Emphasize or summarize only the most important observations; it may be helpful to place lab values or results in a table, but do not repeat all the data from the tables or illustrations in the text.



Emphasize the new and important aspects of the study and the conclusions that follow from them. It is useful to begin the discussion by summarizing briefly the main findings, then explore possible mechanisms or explanations for these findings, compare and contrast the results with other relevant studies, state the limitations of the study, and explore the implications of the findings for future research and for clinical practice. Authors may wish to comment on changes that would improve the course of diagnosis or treatment.

Bulleted Learning Points

Key information in this report that will lead to improvement in the care and/or treatment, in diagnosis, or awareness of this disease state should be distilled into bulleted learning points.

Learning points should be brief and concise, with a minimum of 3 and maximum of 6 (30 word max per point).



Please see the directions for formatting References.


Illustrations (Figures and Tables)

Should follow the same format as mentioned in the General Guidelines.


Copyright Notice

The Medical Student Research Journal is a scholarly journal by medical students supported by Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Authors grant unrestricted copyright license to MSRJ while retaining full copyright to their works. This means authors may distribute their work at their discretion, but may not alter the final product as published by MSRJ. Permissions for reproduction of final published article are granted by MSRJ, while pre-publication works are distributable at authors’ discretion.

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This page was last updated on 2/15/2014 KCP.