A Front-to-Back Guide to Writing a Qualitative Research Article

How to Do Qualitative Research

research question? Do the ndings actually incorporate all the types of data you

have noted in the methods? Are the research motivations in the introduction

actually realized as theoretical contributions or practical implications in the

discussion?

Editing: Format your article, including the tables, gures and references, to the

journal’s style sheet. This may take several days the rst time you do it. If you can

afford it, hire a professional to edit your manuscript. Professional editors offer a

range of services from relatively major “developmental” or “substantive” editing

to relatively minor “copy editing” and “proofreading”. All of these services are

much faster and more affordable than you might imagine. Search online for

“editing services”.

Friendly reviews: Send your manuscript to at least three to ve friendly reviewers

for feedback, not all at once, but in stages, as you keep rening your manuscript.

Contrary to popular belief, friendly reviewers need not be senior scholars in your

eld. In fact, PhD classmates, junior scholars in your eld and non-academic

friends can all be excellent friendly reviewers. Wherever you turn, seek diverse,

tough and nit-picky readers as reviewers. You can certainly disregard

idiosyncratic feedback that does not ring true for you, but if two or more friendly

reviewers indicate a similar concern, then do take their concern seriously.

You are ready to submit your manuscript. Good luck!

References

Belk, R., Fischer, E. and Kozinets, R.V. (2013), Qualitative Consumer and Marketing Research,

Sage, London.

Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. (2011), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage,

Thousand Oaks, CA.

Golden-Biddle, K. and Locke, K. (1993), “Appealing work: an investigation of how ethnographic

texts convince”, Organization Science, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 595-616.

Golden-Biddle, K. and Locke, K. (2007), Composing Qualitative Research, Sage, Thousand Oaks,

CA.

Locke, K. and Golden-Biddle, K. (1997), “Constructing opportunities for contribution: structuring

intertextual coherence and ‘problematizing’ in organizational studies”, Academy of

Management Journal, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 1023-1062.

Spiggle, S. (1994), “Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data in consumer research”, Journal

of Consumer Research, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 491-503.

Whetten, D.A. (1989), “What constitutes a theoretical contribution?”, Academy of Management

Review, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 490-495.

Yin, R.K. (2010), Qualitative Research from Start to Finish, Guilford Press, New York, NY.

Corresponding author

Ahir Gopaldas can be contacted at: agopaldas@fordham.edu

For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:

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Writing a

qualitative

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  • Analysis

    The process of analysis should be made as transparent as possible (notwithstanding the conceptual and theoretical creativity that typically characterises qualitative research). For example

    • How was the analysis conducted
      • How were themes, concepts and categories generated from the data
      • Whether analysis was computer assisted (and, if so, how)
      • Who was involved in the analysis and in what manner
    • Assurance of analytic rigour. For example
      • Steps taken to guard against selectivity in the use of data
      • Triangulation
      • Inter-rater reliability
      • Member and expert checking
      • The researcher’s own position should clearly be stated. For example, have they examined their own role, possible bias, and influence on the research (reflexivity)?

    Fitness for purpose

    Are the methods of the research appropriate to the nature of the question(s) being asked, i.e.

    • Does the research seek to understand social processes or social structures {amp}amp;/or to illuminate subjective experiences or meanings?
    • Are the settings, groups or individuals being examined of a type which cannot be pre-selected, or the possible outcomes not specified (or hypothesised) in advance?

    Methodology and methods

    • All papers must include a dedicated methods section which specifies, as appropriate, the sample recruitment strategy, sample size, and analytical strategy.

    Principles of selection

    Qualitative research is often based on or includes non-probability sampling. The unit(s) of research may include one or a combination of people, events, institutions, samples of natural behaviour, conversations, written and visual material, etc.

    • The selection of these should be theoretically justified e.g. it should be made clear how respondents were selected
    • There should be a rationale for the sources of the data (e.g respondents/participants, settings, documents)
    • Consideration should be given to whether the sources of data (e.g people, organisations, documents) were unusual in some important way
    • Any limitations of the data should be discussed (such as non response, refusal to take part)

    The research process

    In most papers there should be consideration of

    • The access process
    • How data were collected and recorded
    • Who collected the data
    • When the data were collected
    • How the research was explained to respondents/participants

    Research ethics

    • Details of formal ethical approval (i.e. IRB, Research Ethics Committee) should be stated in the main body of the paper. If authors were not required to obtain ethical approval (as is the case in some countries) or unable to obtain attain ethical approval (as sometimes occurs in resource-poor settings) they should explain this. Please anonymise this information as appropriate in the manuscript, and give the information when asked during submission.
    • Procedures for securing informed consent should be provided

    Any ethical concerns that arose during the research should be discussed.

    Presentation of findings

    Consideration of context

    The research should be clearly contextualised. For example

    • Relevant information about the settings and respondents/participants should be supplied
    • The phenomena under study should be integrated into their social context (rather than being abstracted or de-contextualised)
    • Any particular/unique influences should be identified and discussed

    Presentation of data:

    • Quotations, field notes, and other data where appropriate should be identified in a way which enables the reader to judge the range of evidence being used
    • Distinctions between the data and their interpretation should be clear
    • The iteration between data and explanations of the data (theory generation) should be clear
    • Sufficient original evidence should be presented to satisfy the reader of the relationship between the evidence and the conclusions (validity)
    • There should be adequate consideration of cases or evidence which might refute the conclusions

    Amended February 2010

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