The Quality of Qualitative Research


Quality in qualitative research

Bridget Young

University of Liverpool, UK

“How can an enquirer persuade his or her audiences that the research findings of an inquiry are worth listening to?”

Lincoln Y, Guba E Naturalistic Inquiry 1995; Beverley Hills CA: Sage

• 93 papers on quality assurance in qualitative research

Reynolds J et al, Health Research Policy and Systems 2011;9:43

76 separate checklist items

Tong A et al, Int J Quality in Health Care 2007; 19:349-57

Technical approach

Technical approach

Dixon-Woods et al Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, 2007;12:42-


Connoisseurship approach

• “He [Goffman] felt very strongly that you could not elaborate any useful rules or procedures for doing field research”

Speaking of Irving Goffman (Becker H. Symbolic Interaction,


Craftmanship approach

“Research is in large part a craft learned through personal experience of doing research and from an appreciation of what is good in other people’s research

[…] quality […] does not depend on unthinking adherence to rules of method […] but exposure to methodological debates can help loosen thoughts that are stuck”

Seale C, The Quality of Qualitative Research 1999;London: Sage

Hints and tips (in the spirit of craftsmanship)

• Know the worth of your topic and where it fits in the literature

• Ensure methods match questions

• Look critically at what the findings contribute

• Use methodological writings as thinking resources (rather than as instructions to be obeyed)