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Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative Research Methods

Second Edition
Additional resources:

January 2020 | 376 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Practical and straightforward, this book is a multidisciplinary introduction to the process of planning, conducting and analysing qualitative research, from selecting appropriate methods to publishing your findings. Built around the authors’ Qualitative Research Cycle – consisting of the design, data collection and analytic cycles – this pragmatic guide clearly demonstrates the steps you need to take to ensure your research is rigorous and robust.

Drawing on decades of experience teaching workshops, the book is packed with techniques and tools to help you turn theory and method into research practice. This second edition:

  • Showcases the importance of linking research design to data analysis, helping you avoid potential pitfalls and get the most out of your data
  • Highlights the relevance and wide application of qualitative methods with an array of international examples of real field research and interdisciplinary case studies
  • Gives clear guidance on writing qualitative research, including how to respond to critiques of qualitative methods
  • Has a renewed focus on evaluating quality in qualitative research, ensuring your work is valid, reflexive and ethical

Offering tried and tested research tools like interview guides that you can apply to your own projects and supported by online resources including checklists and reflective questions, this book is the perfect companion for anyone looking to complete a successful project using qualitative research methods.


Chapter 1: Introduction to the book
Who is this book for?

The qualitative research cycle

Structure of the book

Features of this book

Chapter 2: The nature of qualitative research
What is qualitative research?

When to conduct qualitative research

The underlying interpretive paradigm

Qualitative and quantitative research

Verstehen and understanding

The emic and etic perspectives

Subjectivity and the need for reflexivity

Our approach to qualitative research

Evaluating quality

Part I: The design cycle
Chapter 3: The design cycle
Formulating qualitative research questions

Incorporating literature and theory

Developing a conceptual framework

Selecting qualitative research methods

Evaluating quality

Chapter 4: Designing participatory research
Our participatory approach to qualitative research

The participatory design cycle

The participatory approach in data collection and analysis

Different roles of the researcher

Evaluating quality

Chapter 5: Ethical issues in qualitative research
What is ethics?

Ethics in qualitative research

Ethical issues in the design cycle

Ethical issues in the data collection cycle

Ethical issues in the analytic cycle

Evaluating quality

Part II: The data collection cycle
Chapter 6: Sampling and participant recruitment
What is purposive sampling?

Purposive sampling process?

Participant recruitment strategies

How many participants? The principle of saturation

Evaluating quality

Chapter 7: In-depth interviews
What is an in-depth interview?

When to use in-depth interviews

Purpose of an in-depth interview

The cyclical nature of data collection

Developing an interview guide

Preparing for data collection

Conducting the interview: skills of the interviewer

Strengths and limitations

Evaluating quality

Chapter 8: Focus group discussions
What is a focus group discussion?

When to use focus group discussions

The cyclical nature of data collection

Developing the discussion guide

Preparing for data collection

Conducting focus group discussions

Post-discussion information

Virtual focus groups

Strengths and limitations

Evaluating quality

Chapter 9: Observation
What is observation?

When to conduct observation

The cyclical nature of data collection

What to observe

Types of observation

Preparation and conducting an observation

Writing an observation

Strengths and limitations

Evaluating quality

Part III: The analytic cycle
Chapter 10: Data preparation and developing codes
Different approaches to textual data analysis

The nature of qualitative data analysis

Textual data preparation

Developing codes

Making a codebook

Coding data

Using software in qualitative analysis

Evaluating quality

Writing the manuscript or report

Chapter 11: Textual data analysis
After you write

Developing an analysis plan

Searching data

The cyclical process of analysis



Categorizing and conceptualizing

Theory development

Evaluating quality

Chapter 12: From analysis to participatory action
From analysis to participatory action

The overall participatory qualitative research cycle

The different roles of the researcher

Evaluating quality

Chapter 13: Academic writing of qualitative research
Writing qualitative research

Before you write

Writing a qualitative research article

After you write

Responding to critiques of qualitative research

Evaluating quality

Post Script: Assessing quality in the qualitative research cycle

Good information in the book

Professor David Ditaba Mphuthi
Health, University of South Africa (UNISA)
April 9, 2021

Great book for a beginners course (bachelor students).

Dr Marieke Haan
Sociology, University of Groningen
December 14, 2020

Whilst I looked at this for UG students my PGR students have found this really helpful, particularly if been a while since in study.

Ms Paula Hearsum
School of Arts and Media, Brighton University
July 17, 2020

This book presents really clear and useful information about qualitative research methods and methodologies in a contemporary world. The contents are nicely laid out and the discussions throughout are clear and thorough. I will highly recommend this book to students, academics and professionals. A must have book in qualitative research.

Ms Josephine D Moore
Interdiscipline, Winchester University
April 10, 2020

This text represents a current perspective on qualitative research methods to complement classic and seminal texts. A very useful text at L6 and L7, thank you.

Mrs Eleonora Teszenyi
Faculty of Education, The Open University
January 7, 2021

This is well-written and easily accessible book, which will be of great benefit to my doctoral students as consider how to approach their projects. The information included is both practical as well as thought-provoking, and the inclusion of case studies, exercises and relevant reference lists, will be of great help in developing the students' skills and understanding of how to get the best out of their research.

Dr Philip Howlett
Faculty of Education (Chelmsford), Anglia Ruskin University
February 28, 2020
Key features
  • A discussion of the theoretical principles as well as practical application of qualitative research is covered through case studies, field examples, and exercises.
  • International field examples are provided and highlight the application of qualitative research in different cultural contexts.
  • Research tools, such as interview guides, recruitment scripts, coded data segments, theoretical frameworks, are provided throughout the text.
  • The chapters on research methods (in-depth interviews, focus group discussion and observation) include photographs of the method in practice to demonstrate specific elements of research practice (e.g. seating of interviewers, interview context, body language).
  • Exercises are included at the end of each chapter to help the reader practice specific skills such as writing a qualitative research question, conducting a mock focus group discussion, an interview or an observation, transcribing an interview, developing codes from data, and presenting qualitative research.
  • Annotated further readings are included in each chapter, one list of readings related to methodological concepts and a second list of readings for examples of empirical research.
  • Each chapter includes a series of questions to assist the reader in evaluating the quality of their research.
  • Each chapter concludes with a textbox summarizing the key points to reiterate important concepts to the student.

Sample Materials & Chapters