This excellent series on qualitative research (under the direction of Ayelet Kuper of the University of Toronto) was published online in the BMJ lin August 2008; subscription required.
- Kuper A, Reeves S, Levinson W. An introduction to reading and appraising qualitative research. BMJ 2008; 337:a288
This article explores the difference between qualitative and quantitative research and the need for doctors to be able to interpret and appraise qualitative research.
- Reeves S, Albert M, Kuper A, Hodges BD. Why use theories in qualitative research? BMJ 2008; 337:a949.
Theories such as interactionism, phenomenology, and critical theory can be used to help design a research question, guide the selection of relevant data, interpret the data, and propose explanations of causes or influences.
- Hodges BD, Kuper A, Reeves S. Discourse analysis. BMJ 2008; 337:a879.
This articles explores how discourse analysis is useful for a wide range of research questions in health care and the health professions.
- Kuper A, Lingard L, Levinson W. Critically appraising qualitative research. BMJ 2008; 337:a1035..
– Appraising qualitative research is different from appraising quantitative research
– Qualitative research papers should show appropriate sampling, data collection, and data analysis
– Transferability of qualitative research depends on context and may be enhanced by using theory
– Ethics in qualitative research goes beyond review boards’ requirements to involve complex issues of confidentiality, reflexivity, and power
- Reeves S, Kuper A, Hodges BD. Qualitative research methodologies: ethnography. BMJ 2008; 337:a1020.
Key features of ethnographic research:
– A strong emphasis on exploring the nature of a particular social phenomenon, rather than setting out to test hypotheses about it
– A tendency to work primarily with “unstructured data” -that is, data that have not been coded at the point of data collection as a closed set of analytical categories
– Investigation of a small number of cases (perhaps even just one case) in detail
– Analysis of data that involves explicit interpretation of the meanings and functions of human actions; the product of this analysis primarily takes the form of verbal descriptions and explanations
- Lingard L, Albert M, Levinson W. Grounded theory, mixed methods, and action research. BMJ 2008; 337:a567.
These commonly used methods are appropriate for particular research questions and contexts.