Qualitative Research Methods

“Qualitative research is a situated activity which locates the observer in the world. Qualitative research consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These practices transform the world. They turn the world into a series of representations, including field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of or interpret phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.” 

(Denzin & Lincoln, 2011, p3)

This page is intended as a reading list/resource for those who might be engaging with Qualitative Research Methods for the first time. It's designed for use by students studying courses related to health, exercise and sport but has content that will also be useful for other subject areas. 

See also...Qualitative Research - Conducting an Interview 

Tips for Doing a Qualitative Dissertation

Tips on getting to grips with Qualitative Research Methods

Useful Introductory Reading:

Busetto, L., Wick, W., & Gumbinger, C. (2020). How to use and assess qualitative research methods. Neurological Research and practice, 2(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42466-020-00059-z   

3 Highly Recommended Papers

Recommended Textbooks/Chapters

Bernard, H. R., Wutich, A., & Ryan, G. W. (2016). Analyzing qualitative data: Systematic approaches. SAGE publications.

Bhattacharya, K. (2017). Fundamentals of qualitative research: A practical guide. Taylor & Francis.

Bischoping, K., & Gazso, A. (2015). Analyzing talk in the social sciences: Narrative, conversation and discourse strategies. Sage. 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research: A practical guide for beginners. London, UK: Sage. [Google Books]

Braun, V., Clarke, V., & Gray, D. (Eds.). (2017). Collecting qualitative data: A practical guide to textual, media and virtual techniques. Cambridge University Press. 

Brodsky, A. E. (2008). Researcher as instrument. In L. M. Given (Ed.). The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods, London, UK: Sage.

Burke, S. (2016). Rethinking ‘validity’ and ‘trustworthiness’ in qualitative inquiry: How might we judge the quality of qualitative research in sport and exercise sciences? In B. Smith & A. C. Sparkes (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise (0 ed., pp. 330–339). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315762012-37 

Busetto, L., Wick, W., & Gumbinger, C. (2020). How to use and assess qualitative research methods. Neurological Research and practice, 2(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42466-020-00059-z   

Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory. Sage. 

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.). (2017). The Sage handbook of qualitative research. Sage. (Ch 1: Introduction)

Gallagher, K. (Ed.). (2008). The methodological dilemma: Creative, critical and collaborative approaches to qualitative research. Routledge.

Green, J., & Thorogood, N. (2018). Qualitative methods for health research. Sage. [Google Books]

Luker, K. (2009). Salsa dancing into the social sciences. Harvard University Press.

Mason, J. (2017). Qualitative researching. Sage. 

Maxwell, J. A. (2012). A realist approach for qualitative research. Sage. 

Potter,J & Hepburn, A. (2012). Eight challenges for interview researchers. J.F. Gubrium and J.A. Holstein (Eds). Handbook of Interview Research (2nd Ed.) (pp. 555-570). London:Sage. [www]

Pope, C., & Mays, N. (Eds.). (2020). Qualitative research in health care. Oxford, UK: Wiley Blackwell. [www]

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage. 

Saldaña, J. (2021). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. SAGE Publications Limited. [Student resources]

Small, M. L., & Calarco, J. M. (2022). Qualitative literacy: A guide to evaluating ethnographic and interview research. Univ of California Press.

Smith, B., & Sparkes, A. C. (2013). Qualitative research methods in sport, exercise and health: From process to product. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203852187 

Smith, B., & Sparkes, A. C. (Eds.). (2016). Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise. Taylor & Francis.

Recommended Journal Articles

Arsel, Z. (2017). Asking questions with reflexive focus: A tutorial on designing and conducting interviews. Journal of Consumer Research, 44(4), 939-948. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucx096 

Aspers, P., & Corte, U. (2019). What is qualitative in qualitative research. Qualitative sociology, 42(2), 139-160. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-019-9413-7 

Baker, S.E. and Edwards, R. (2012) How many qualitative interviews is enough. Discussion Paper. NCRM. (Unpublished) http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/2273/ 

Baxter, P., & Jack, S. (2008). Qualitative case study methodology: Study design and implementation for novice researchers. The qualitative report, 13(4), 544-559. http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol13/iss4/2 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. doi: 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2019). Reflecting on reflexive thematic analysis. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 11(4), 589-597. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2019.1628806 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2020). Can I use TA? Should I use TA? Should I not use TA? Comparing reflexive thematic analysis and other pattern‐based qualitative analytic approaches. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12360 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2020). One size fits all? What counts as quality practice in (reflexive) thematic analysis?. Qualitative research in psychology, 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2020.1769238 

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2021). To saturate or not to saturate? Questioning data saturation as a useful concept for thematic analysis and sample-size rationales. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 13(2), 201-216. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2019.1704846 

Braun, V., Clarke, V., Boulton, E., Davey, L., & McEvoy, C. (2020). The online survey as a qualitative research tool. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2020.1805550 

Buckley, R. (2022). Ten steps for specifying saturation in qualitative research. Social Science & Medicine, 309, 115217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115217 

Charmaz, K., & Thornberg, R. (2020). The pursuit of quality in grounded theory. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2020.1780357 

Cristancho, S., Watling, C., & Lingard, L. (2021). Three principles for writing an effective qualitative results section. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 22(3), 110–124. https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v22i3.556 

Collins, C. S., & Stockton, C. M. (2018). The central role of theory in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1609406918797475. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1609406918797475 

Connelly, L. M., & Peltzer, J. N. (2016). Underdeveloped themes in qualitative research: Relationship with interviews and analysis. Clinical nurse specialist, 30(1), 52-57. https://doi.org/10.1097/nur.0000000000000173 

De Oliveira, B. (2018). On the news today: challenging homelessness through participatory action research. Housing, Care and Support. Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 13-25. https://doi.org/10.1108/HCS-01-2018-0002 

Demuth, C. (2015). “Slow Food” Post-Qualitative Research in Psychology: Old Craft Skills in New Disguise?. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, 49(2), 207-215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12124-015-9304-8 

Deterding, N. M., & Waters, M. C. (2018). Flexible coding of in-depth interviews: A twenty-first-century approach. Sociological methods & research, 0049124118799377. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0049124118799377 

Eisenhardt, K. M., Graebner, M. E., & Sonenshein, S. (2016). Grand challenges and inductive methods: Rigor without rigor mortis. Academy of Management Journal. Vol. 59, No. 4, 1113-1123 https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2016.4004 

Gill, D. L. (2011). Beyond the qualitative–quantitative dichotomy: notes from a non-qualitative researcher. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 3(3), 305-312. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2011.607184 

Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field methods, 18(1), 59-82. https://doi.org/10.1177/1525822X05279903 

Hammersley, M. (2007). The issue of quality in qualitative research. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 30(3), 287-305. https://doi.org/10.1080/17437270701614782

Hanna, P. and Mwale, S. (2017) ‘I’m Not with You, Yet I Am …’ In V. Braun, Clarke, & D. Gray (Eds.). (2017). Collecting qualitative data: A practical guide to textual, media and virtual techniques. Cambridge University Press. 

Hayfield, N., & Huxley, C. (2015). Insider and outsider perspectives: Reflections on researcher identities in research with lesbian and bisexual women. Qualitative research in psychology, 12(2), 91-106. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2014.918224 

Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277-1288. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1049732305276687 

Jabareen, Y. (2009). Building a conceptual framework: philosophy, definitions, and procedure. International journal of qualitative methods, 8(4), 49-62. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F160940690900800406 

King, N., Horrocks, C., & Brooks, J. (2018). Interviews in Qualitative Research. London, UK: Sage.. 

Lamont, M., & Swidler, A. (2014). Methodological pluralism and the possibilities and limits of interviewing. Qualitative Sociology, 37(2), 153-171. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-014-9274-z 

Langley, A., & Meziani, N. (2020). Making interviews meaningful. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 56(3), 370-391. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0021886320937818 

Lavis, V. (2010). Multiple researcher identities: Highlighting tensions and implications for ethical practice in qualitative interviewing. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 7(4), 316-331. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780880902929506 

Lester, J. N., & O’Reilly, M. (2015). Is evidence-based practice a threat to the progress of the qualitative community? Arguments from the bottom of the pyramid. Qualitative Inquiry, 21(7), 628-632. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1077800414563808 

Low, J. (2019). A pragmatic definition of the concept of theoretical saturation. Sociological Focus, 52(2), 131-139. https://doi.org/10.1080/00380237.2018.1544514 

Malterud, K., Siersma, V. D., & Guassora, A. D. (2016). Sample size in qualitative interview studies: guided by information power. Qualitative health research, 26(13), 1753-1760. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1049732315617444 

Martin, J. J. (2011). Qualitative research in sport and exercise psychology: Observations of a non-qualitative researcher. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 3(3), 335-348. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2011.607177 

Morse, J. M. (2015). Critical analysis of strategies for determining rigor in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative health research, 25(9), 1212-1222. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732315588501 

Olmos-Vega, F. M., Stalmeijer, R. E., Varpio, L., & Kahlke, R. (2023). A practical guide to reflexivity in qualitative research: AMEE Guide No. 149. Medical teacher, 45(3), 241-251. https://doi.org/10.1080/0142159X.2022.2057287 

O’Reilly, M., & Parker, N. (2013). ‘Unsatisfactory Saturation’: a critical exploration of the notion of saturated sample sizes in qualitative research. Qualitative Research, 13(2), 190-197. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794112446106 [www]

Peek, L., & Fothergill, A. (2009). Using focus groups: Lessons from studying daycare centers, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. Qualitative research, 9(1), 31-59. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1468794108098029 

Petty, N. J., Thomson, O. P., & Stew, G. (2012). Ready for a paradigm shift? Part 1: Introducing the philosophy of qualitative research. Manual therapy, 17(4), 267-274. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2012.03.006 

Pillow, W. (2003). Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research. International journal of qualitative studies in education, 16(2), 175-196. https://doi.org/10.1080/0951839032000060635 

Pratt, M. G. (2017). From the editors: For the lack of a boilerplate: Tips on writing up (and reviewing) qualitative research. Academy of Management JournalVol. 52, No. 5 https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.44632557 

Moser, A., & Korstjens, I. (2018). Series: Practical guidance to qualitative research. Part 3: Sampling, data collection and analysis. European Journal of General Practice, 24(1), 9-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2017.1375091 

Reicher, S. (2000). Against methodolatry: some comments on Elliott, Fischer, and Rennie. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 39(1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466500163031 

Renjith, V., Yesodharan, R., Noronha, J. A., Ladd, E., & George, A. (2021). Qualitative methods in health care research. International journal of preventive medicine, 12. https://doi.org/10.4103%2Fijpvm.IJPVM_321_19 

Sandelowski, M., & Leeman, J. (2012). Writing usable qualitative health research findings. Qualitative health research, 22(10), 1404-1413. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732312450368 

Sandelowski, M. (2011). When a cigar is not just a cigar: Alternative takes on data and data analysis. Research in nursing & health, 34(4), 342-352. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.20437 

Scotland, J. (2012). Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms. English Language Teaching, 5(9), 9. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1080001.pdf 

Sim, J., Saunders, B., Waterfield, J., & Kingstone, T. (2018). Can sample size in qualitative research be determined a priori?. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 21(5), 619-634. https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2018.1454643 

Smagorinsky, P. (2008). The method section as conceptual epicenter in constructing social science research reports. Written communication, 25(3), 389-411. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0741088308317815 

Small, M. L. (2009). How many cases do I need?' On science and the logic of case selection in field-based research. Ethnography, 10(1), 5-38. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1466138108099586 

Smith, B., & McGannon, K. R. (2018). Developing rigor in qualitative research: Problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International review of sport and exercise psychology, 11(1), 101-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2017.1317357

A seminar by Prof Brett Smith on Generalizability. See the full paper this is linked to below.
In conversation with Braun & Clarke (Nov 2021) with related links here https://www.methodspace.com/blog/thematic-analysis-webinar-recording-now-available 

Smith, B. (2018). Generalizability in qualitative research: Misunderstandings, opportunities and recommendations for the sport and exercise sciences. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10(1), 137-149. https://doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2017.1393221

Tavory, I. (2020). Interviews and inference: Making sense of interview data in qualitative research. Qualitative Sociology, 43(4), 449-465. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-020-09464-x 

Thomas, D. R. (2006). A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27(2), 237-246. 

Timmermans, S., & Tavory, I. (2012). Theory construction in qualitative research: From grounded theory to abductive analysis. Sociological theory, 30(3), 167-186. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0735275112457914 

Tod, D., Booth, A. and Smith, B. (2021) Critical Appraisal. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology https://doi.org/10.1080/1750984X.2021.1952471 

Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(10), 837-851. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800410383121 

Yardley, L. (2000). Dilemmas in qualitative health research. Psychology and Health, 15(2), 215-228. https://doi.org/10.1080/08870440008400302

"Qualitative research is a set of complex interpretive practices. as a constantly shifting historical formation, it embraces tensions and contraindications, including disputes over its methods and the forms it findings and interpretations take. The field sprawls between and crosscuts all of the human disciplines, even including, in some cases, the physical sciences. Its practitioners are variously committed to modern, postmodern, and post-experimental sensibilities and the approaches to social research that these sensibilities imply."

(Denzin & Lincoln, 2017, p13)

Further Recommended Reading

Becker, H. S. (2014). What about Mozart? What about murder?: Reasoning from cases. University of Chicago Press. [GoogleBooks] 

also on Becker, Gopnik, A. (2015) The Outside Game: How the sociologist Howard Becker studies the conventions of the unconventional. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/12/outside-game 

Qualitative research in Age and Ageing - https://academic.oup.com/ageing/pages/qualitative_research 

Web Resources

Thematic Analysis website by Braun & Clarke https://www.thematicanalysis.net/resources-we-like/ 

Thematic Analysis - www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/our-research/research-groups/thematic-analysis.html 

The Qualitative Report - A wide range of curated resources - https://tqr.nova.edu/tqrresources/ 

MethodSpace - www.methodspace.com/ 

Qualitative Research  by Methods@Manchester - https://www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/themes/qualitative-methods/ 

Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) - http://onlineqda.hud.ac.uk/Introduction/researchers.php 

National Centre for Research Methods - www.ncrm.ac.uk/resources/ 

NVivo Help Page

Qualitative Research Methods syllabus, from Elizabeth Korver-Glenn https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5712516145bf21968b6a62d5/t/5e273e3d09376202912ece6e/1579630141769/SOC585_qual+research+methods+syllabus_web_01212020.pdf 

Advanced Techniques for Qualitative Research syllabus, from Michelle Weinberger: https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AIlkLqz9MrToOBg&cid=659840A6BF559D10&id=659840A6BF559D10%21278&parId=659840A6BF559D10%21277&o=OneUp 

Qualitative Research Methods syllabus, from Harris Mylonas: https://www.academia.edu/5993478/PSC_8104_Qualitative_Research_Methods_Syllabus_Graduate_Ph_D_ 

Various Qualitative Module Outlines https://sarahjtracy.com/learning-resources/ 

Student resources [sample articles, exercises and sample data] related to Saldaña, J. (2021). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. SAGE Publications Limited. 

Qualitative Data Analysis (practical guide from Uni of York)   - https://subjectguides.york.ac.uk/data/qualitative 

Credit to Teresa Corbett who in this tweet inspired me to start this resource page...

A number of articles in this list were gleaned from responses to this tweet below...

It's also worth checking out the resulting GoogleDoc created by @convergecollide