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The Practice of Qualitative Research

The Practice of Qualitative Research
Engaging Students in the Research Process

Third Edition
Additional resources:

March 2016 | 432 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
The Practice of Qualitative Research guides readers step by step through the process of collecting, analyzing, designing, and interpreting qualitative research. Written in an engaging style, this student-centered text offers invaluable insights into the practice of qualitative research, with coverage of in-depth interviewing, focus groups, ethnography, case study, and mixed methods research. The Third Edition features even more integrated attention to online research and implications of social media throughout all methods chapters; updates on qualitative analysis software; and significantly expanded coverage of ethics.

Available with Perusall—an eBook that makes it easier to prepare for class
Perusall is an award-winning eBook platform featuring social annotation tools that allow students and instructors to collaboratively mark up and discuss their SAGE textbook. Backed by research and supported by technological innovations developed at Harvard University, this process of learning through collaborative annotation keeps your students engaged and makes teaching easier and more effective. Learn more.

About the Authors
Part I: Taking a Qualitative Approach to Research
Chapter 1: An Invitation to Qualitative Research
What’s Wrong With This Picture?  
What Is Qualitative Research?  
A Holistic Approach to Research  
What to Learn From This Book  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 2: Paradigmatic Approaches to Qualitative Research
What Are the Major Paradigmatic Approaches to Qualitative Research?  
The Interpretive Strand  
The Critical Strand  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 3: Designing Qualitative Approaches to Research
How Do We Know What We Know?  
What Is a Qualitative Approach to Research? Qualitative Research Inquiry: A Dynamic Dance  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 4: The Ethics of Social Research
Why Is Ethical Practice Important?  
A Short History of Ethics in Research  
How Are Research Participants Protected Today?  
Beyond Informed Consent: What Are the Ethical Dilemmas in Social Research?  
How Can I Observe Ethical Values in My Research Practice?  
Do New Technologies Impact the Practice of Ethical Research?  
Discussion Questions  
Part II. Qualitative Research Practice
Chapter 5: In-Depth Interviewing
What Is an In-Depth Interview?  
How Do You Design and Conduct an In-Depth Interview Study?  
How Do You Conduct an In-Depth Interview  
How Do You Analyze and Interpret Interviews?  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 6: Focus Group Research
What Are Focus Group Interviews?  
Online Focus Groups  
Ethics and Focus Group Research  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 7: Ethnography
What Is Ethnography?  
Using an Ethnographic Approach: When Is It Appropriate?  
Virtual Ethnographic Methods  
How Do You Gather and Manage Your Ethnographic Data?  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 8: Case Study
What Is a Case Study?  
Reasons for Adopting a Case Study Approach  
Why Conduct Case Study Research?  
Case Study Examples  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 9: Researching Mass Media: Images and Texts by Heather McIntosh and Lisa Cuklantz
What Is Content Analysis?  
Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative and Qualitative Content Analysis  
Qualitative Content Analysis of Online Texts  
How Is the Research Database for Content Analysis Defined and Delimited?  
Making a Theoretical Contribution  
Discussion Questions  
Appendix: Formal Analysis in Film and Television  
Chapter 10: Mixed Methods Research
What Is Mixed Methods Research?  
What Is a Mixed Methods Research Design?  
What Is a Qualitatively Driven Approach to Mixed Methods Research Inquiry?  
Why Do Qualitative Researchers Use Mixed Methods?  
What to Consider When Conducting a Mixed Methods Research Project  
Discussion Questions  
Part III: Tying the Strands Together
Chapter 11: Analysis and Interpretation of Qualitative Data
What Is Qualitative Data Analysis?  
What Is Coding?  
A Grounded Theory Approach to Coding  
How Do You Code Data?  
Software for Qualitative Data Analysis  
How Can I Use a Software Program to Analyze My Qualitative Data?  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 12: Writing and Representation of Qualitative Research Projects
Who Is Your Audience?  
Getting It Done: Writing Up Your Qualitative Research Project  
Editing and Revising Your Research Paper  
How Do I Represent the Voices of My Respondents?  
Discussion Questions  
Conclusion: Future Directions of Qualitative Research Inquiry
The Future of Qualitative Research: Coming at Things Differently  
What's New in Qualitative Research Practice?  
Emergent Methods: New Approaches to Old Methods  
Impact of Online Research on the Process of Qualitative Inquiry  
Staying Centered and Building Ethical Knowledge  
Discussion Questions  


Instructor Teaching Site

Password-protected Instructor Resources include the following:

  • A Microsoft® Word® test bank is available containing multiple choice, true/false, and essay questions. The test bank provides you with a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity for editing any question and/or inserting your own personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific Microsoft® PowerPoint® slides offer you complete flexibility in easily creating a multimedia presentation for your course. 
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. 
Student Study Site

The open-access Student Study Site includes the following:

  • Mobile-friendly web quizzes allow for independent assessment of progress made in learning course material. 
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter.

This lucid text covers nearly every aspect of qualitative research, with useful attention being paid to the thorny logistics and pragmatic problems often encountered by researchers in the field. It is a great introduction for students and a necessary resource for the more seasoned.

Brian Creech
Temple University

This is a great step-by-step teaching tool for students on how to conduct qualitative research.

Kristen K. Bowen
Florida A&M University

With ample examples, The Practice of Qualitative Research provides clear guidance for students who aspire to conduct a qualitative research project.

Aya Kimura Ida
California State University - Sacramento

This is a practical and easy-to-use manual for doctoral students in our program. The book is a thorough understanding of all the nuances and challenges of qualitative research with step-by-step approaches. This book takes some of the burden off the doctoral chair and allows the student more independence. I'm impressed!

Jeanne L. Surface
University of Nebraska Omaha

In the new edition examples are clear, relevant, and applicable. Each chapter provides relevant, engaging examples that illustrate the selected method by including transcriptions, research studies, and personal accounts. Students will be required to read this text to learn about qualitative methods, but I predict this is one text they will actually want to read because it brings them stories of insights into the practice of learning the trade.

Susan L. Wortmann
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Key features


  • A new chapter on researching mass media, authored by leading communications researchers Dr. Lisa Cuklanz and Heather McIntosh, keeps readers up to date on an ever-changing field.
  • Integration of the most current scholarship in qualitative approaches is reflected in discussions of online methods and computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software, offering students new ways to collect and analyze data.
  • A new chapter on writing a research project from start to finish follows a step-by-step format and includes a general research methods project template for a strong starting point.
  • Expanded “Behind the Scenes” discussions walk students through the nuts and bolts of research projects conducted by leading researchers, and includes issues handled in the process.


  • Emphasis on qualitative research as a process shows how researchers make decisions that impact research findings.
  • A holistic approach to research places emphasis on the interconnections between ontology, epistemology, methodology, and methods.
  • A problem-centric approach underscores the importance of linking the practice of any research method to specific research questions.
  • Exemplary research studies engage students in hands-on research practice for mastery of the material.
  • Pedagogical features in each chapter include a glossary of key terms, an annotated list of websites for further exploration, and discussion questions in methods chapters.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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