Qualitative Research series from the BMJ

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..
    Summary points:
    – 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.

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