General Qualitative Methods

Abbott, P., DiGiacomo, M., Magin, P., & Hu, W. (2018). A Scoping Review of Qualitative Research Methods Used With People in Prison. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1–15. 

This article discusses challenges and strategies that should be addressed and utilized while working with people in prison. The article shares concerns and tips through examining research processes with said marginalized group in order to understand how researchers communicate, interact and execute work with prisoners. While directed at prisoners, this article would apply to any and all work involving marginalized communities. (AER)

Aluchna, M., Hussain, N., & Roszkowska-Menkes, M. (2019). Integrated Reporting Narratives: The Case of an Industry Leader. Sustainability,11(4), 976.

This article discusses the impacts and usage of integrated reporting narratives from a major Polish petroleum business on how the company frames its narrative for its audiences. This study uses narrative analysis, a method of critically engaging with the sense-making processes of business leaders to examine the ways in which the business selectively frames its operations to appeal to different groups of stakeholders across several timescales. This article would be useful to a business researcher who is interested in learning from or about a case study that utilizes narrative analysis, or anyone who is interested in seeing how a qualitative research method can be used in a field (business) that may not immediately come to mind as a qualitative field of study. (JD)

Baggio, J. A., BurnSilver, S. B., Arenas, A., De Domenico, M., Magdanz, J. S., & Kofinas, G. P.(2016). Multiplex social ecological network analysis reveals how social changes affect community robustness more than resource depletion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America113(48), 13708–13713.

This study uses social-ecological network analysis to analyze the influence social and ecological factors have on household and community dynamics in the subsistence food flows of three indigenous communities in Arctic Alaska. This analysis supports the idea that the main challenge facing these communities lies in social relations rather than resource depletion. (SL)

Burck, C. (2005). Comparing qualitative research methodologies for systemic research: the use of grounded theory, discourse analysis and narrative analysis. Journal of Family Therapy, 27(3), 237-262.

Burck uses three qualitative research methods in a pilot study concerning the experiences of living life in more than one language. The three methods are a grounded theory approach, discourse analysis, and narrative analysis. Burck applies these research methodologies to the same qualitative data to highlight the methods’ differences. They chose these methods because a grounded theory approach offers a framework for doing the research as well as a framework for analysis of the data, while discourse and narrative analysis offer ways to analyze qualitative research material. Research participants in the pilot study were three women and three men, none of whom spoke English as a first language (MS).

Brandl, K., Mandel, J., & Winegarden, B. (2017). Student evaluation team focus groups increase students’ satisfaction with the overall course evaluation process. Medical Education, 51(2), 215–227.

The study looks at medical school use of online systems to gather student feedback on the quality of their educational programs and services. The researchers used the implementation of a student evaluation team (SET) process to permit course directors and students to gather shortly after courses end to engage in feedback and problem solving regarding the course and course elements. Students felt that SETs allowed their voices to be heard, and that the SET increased the probability of suggested changes being implemented. (RR)

Cameron, M., Cockcroft, A., Waichigo, G. W., Marokoane, N., Laetsang, D., & Andersson, N. (2014). From knowledge to action: participant stories of a population health intervention to reduce gender violence and HIV in three southern African countries. AIDS Care26(12), 1534–1540. (

This article examines the effectiveness of an edutainment intervention in Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, in the form of an audio-drama aimed at changing behavior around HIV and gender violence. Researchers collected stories from community members about their reactions to the intervention and assessed the stories through the lens of a behavior change model. This article could be useful for researchers interested in soliciting and analyzing stories from community members and assessing the effectiveness of educational projects in changing behavior. The model for behavior change (conscious knowledge, attitudes, subjective norms, intention to change, agency, discussion and action, or CASCADA) could be applied to a wide variety of topics. (H.D.)

Campbell Hibbs. (2014). Agricultural Producer Perceptions of Climate Change and Climate Education Needs for the Central Great Plains. Journal of Extension, 52(3).              doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f, from

This article hones in on the qualitative research method of focus groups to understand the perspectives of mid-western farmers on climate change. Participants include primarily Caucasian male, small and large-scale crop and livestock farmers in Kansas. This article might be useful to understand how farmers in other parts of the country perceive the impacts of climate change in comparison to farmers elsewhere in the country. s.c.

Dawson, M., McDonnell, L. & Scott, S. (2017). Note on recruitment as an ethical question: lessons from a project on asexuality. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20(3), 255-261.

Although this article does not comment on research techniques, it is a reflection on the ethics of recruiting participants. The research project discussed in relation to the article was about people who identify as asexual. The article comments on the ethics of recruiting participants of a clearly defined identity group that is often subject to discrimination, and one that the term is not always known to those who hold the orientation it describes. (D.E.)

Floress, K., Reimer, A., Thompson, A., Burbach, M., Knutson, C., Prokopy, L., . . . Ulrich-     Schad, J. (2018). Measuring farmer conservation behaviors: Challenges and best                   practices. Land Use Policy, 70, 414-418. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2017.11.030, from              

This article uses the research methods of observation and questionnaires to understand how to measure behavior in participants. It discusses different types of behaviors, as well as different approaches researchers can use to measure a behavior depending on the purpose of their research. This article may give insights in how to assess the behaviors of participants in a research project as well as how theoretical grounding may help with the construction of different methods or measures in research involving agricultural workers. s.c.

Flynn, R., Albrecht, L., & Scott, S. D. (2018). Two Approaches to Focus Group Data Collection for Qualitative Health Research: Maximizing Resources and Data Quality. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1–9.

This article discusses the use of focus groups in qualitative health research. Initially, it discusses the common challenges of using focus groups in this context, such as trouble recruiting health professionals to participate in more time-consuming research techniques as they have such a busy workload. Along with this, they mention the issue of geographic location affecting opportunities for certain desired focus groups. The solutions they provide for these problems are to establish relationships within healthcare settings previous to the start of research and to use videoconferencing for focus groups. The context of this article is research on improving pediatric emergency care by working with health professionals in these settings as well as parents hoping to get their children treatment in these settings. This article would be helpful for anyone looking to do research across large geographic distances or working with health professionals in qualitative research. SG.


Herz, A., Peters, L., & Truschkat, I. (2014). How to do Qualitative Structural Analysis: The Qualitative Interpretation of Network Maps and Narrative Interviews. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(1). doi:

This article discusses qualitative structural analysis, taking from the methodologies of social network analysis and narrative interviews. This article proposes a qualitative structural analysis procedure based on narrative data and network maps, providing a mixed methods approach to structural analysis.

Heiskanen, E., Järvelä, K., Pulliainen, A., Saastamoinen, M., & Timonen, P. (2008). Qualitative Research and Consumer Policy: Focus Group Discussions as a Form of Consumer Participation. Qualitative Report, 13(2), 152–172. Retrieved from

This article discusses the use of focus groups as participatory research. They define focus groups as a group of 4-12 people brought together to participate in the discussion of an area of interest and moderated by a trained professional. The context of this article is consumer empowerment in the market economy in the EU. Thus, the authors discuss the use of focus groups as more than just a data collection method and instead an avenue for empowerment. They believe that focus groups should be referred to as “discussions” rather than “interviews” to give participants more of an active role in the process. This article would be useful for anyone who is interested in conducting research that empowers their participants, particularly through the use of focus groups and participation. SG.


Hindi, A. M. K., Schafheutle, E. I., & Jacobs, S. (2019). Community pharmacy integration within the primary care pathway for people with long-term conditions: a focus group study of patients’,pharmacists’ and GPs’ experiences and expectations. BMC Family Practice, 20(1), 1–15.

The qualitative research design of this study utilized focus groups as a main source of data collection. The data collected from the focus group sessions were then analyzed using thematic analysis. The context of this research was to study how community pharmacies could better serve patients with long term conditions. For this research the authors used two focus groups comprised of respiratory patients, two of type 2 diabetes patients, two of pharmacists, and two of general practitioners. The purpose of this study was to use market analyzing theories to examine the views of patients, pharmacists and practitioners. This article would be relevant to anyone who is doing research on various different groups regarding the same subject matter and wants to utilize multiple focus groups. SG.


Hutchinson, A. J., Johnston, L. H., Breckon, J. D. (2010). Using QSR-NVivo to facilitate the development of a grounded theory project: an account of a worked example. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 13 (4): 283-302. DOI: 10.1080/13645570902996301

Hutchinson and colleagues outline the values of a grounded theory approach for analyzing themes that emerge from qualitative data. Clear instructions for using various NVivo operations and the value of these operations are provided. This paper is useful for those new to NVivo functionality and those interested in using coding to generate conceptual research frameworks. It is also useful for researchers interested in grounded theory data analysis. JB

Jung, H., & Ro, E. (2019). Validating common experiences through focus group interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 143, 169–184.

This article discusses qualitative implied linguistic research and how as a field it under utilizes focus groups. The article makes the argument that focus groups deepen research by allowing participants to communicate about shared experiences and validate each other’s expertise on the topic of discussion.  The context of the research is that the authors were talking specifically with focus groups of Korean K-12 English teachers and teachers working at U.S. universities with international students. Their results concluded that participants in a group rely on each other to seek and provide support as well as validate and orient shared experiences. This article would be most useful for a researcher who is deciding whether to use individual interviews or focus groups for a population of participants with similar backgrounds. SG.


Kipling, R. P., Taft, H. E., Chadwick, D. R., Styles, D., & Moorby, J. (2019). Challenges to    implementing greenhouse gas mitigation measures in livestock agriculture: A conceptual     framework for policymakers. Environmental Science & Policy, 92, 107-115.                              doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2018.11.013, from

This research used semi-structured interviews and focus groups of stakeholder organizations in livestock agriculture to understand the challenges of implementing GTG mitigation measures, where the findings were later analyzed using a grounded theory approach. This research project was located in Whales, with stakeholders who would be impacted by on-farm mitigation measures, those of whom were identified using a mapping process. This might be useful to understand the economic, social, and political barriers to mitigate climate change caused by agriculture globally. s.c.

Leko, M. M. (2014). The Value of Qualitative Methods in Social Validity Research. Remedial & Special Education, 35(5), 275–286.

Using a social validity framework, this article describes how qualitative research methods can be helpful to participants in a sustainable, long-term way. The author studied the effects of System 44, a program used to assist middle-schoolers and high-schoolers struggling with reading skills. Qualitative research, including mixed-methods, semi-structured interviews, and observations, determined the social validity of this program. This article might be useful for educators and people working with special-needs populations. (AG)

Lorimer, H. (2003). Telling Small Stories: Spaces of Knowledge and the Practice of Geography. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 28(2), 197-217. Retrieved from

This article discusses the importance of learning geography and the knowledge that comes from it. Using the story of 14-year-old Margaret Jack who participated in an educational institution in the Cairngorm mountains in order to learn “outdoor citizenship” and field studies, the authors show that small stories and personal narratives are a key way of understanding data and experiences. The authors stress the importance focusing on geography as a process and not an end goal. In this article they use archival evidence from Margaret; field study notes, hand drawn maps, pictures, and her journals from Glenmore Lodge, Scotland in 1951. The importance of qualitative research and the telling of “small stories” is integral in this article. This article is useful in the use of looking at diaries, field notes, and understanding how important personal narratives are. KSBB

Lynam, T., and K. Brown. 2011. Mental models in human-environment interactions: theory, policy implications, and methodological explorations. Ecology and Society 17(3): 24. (

This article introduces a collection of papers about using mental models to study how humans relate to the environment. These case studies focus on water management in South Africa, but the papers cover a range of techniques that could be applied to similar studies about how humans conceptualize the environment and how this shapes their interactions with it. (H.D.)

Maher, C., Hadfield, M., Hutchings, M., & de Eyto, A. (2018). Ensuring Rigor in Qualitative Data Analysis: A Design Research Approach to Coding Combining NVivo With Traditional Material Methods. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1), 1–13.

This article focuses on NVivo, a computer software used for qualitative data analysis, and how it can may be less conducive to creating grounded theory, or theories deeply based in data. NVivo is compared to traditional coding materials like colored pens, paper, and display boards. Through semi-structured interviews and document analysis, the researchers studied how research designers develop their approaches and theories. They concluded that traditional coding materials are more grounded in the data than electronic coding resources like NVivo. This article might be useful for researchers who use NVivo or code their research using traditional materials. (AG)

Makkonen, T., Hokkanen, T. J., Morozova, T., & Suharev, M. (2018). A social network analysis of cooperation in forest, mining and tourism industries in the Finnish–Russian cross-border region: connectivity, hubs and robustness. Eurasian Geography & Economics59(5/6), 685–707.

This article uses social network analysis of forest, mining, and tourism industry actors to look at cross-border cooperation between Finland and Russia. In this analysis, researchers look at the varying strategies between these actors for natural resource use, and where they overlap. (SL)

Meyer, J. P., Cash, A., & Mashburn, A. (2011). Occasions and the Reliability of Classroom Observations: Alternative Conceptualizations and Methods of Analysis. Educational Assessment, 16(4), 227–243.

This article reviews the effectiveness of classroom observation as a qualitative research method. The researchers use mg-theory, which are a series of calculations that analyze the effectiveness of classroom observation in a determined time period. This article might be useful for researchers who do classroom observations, or educators themselves. (AG)

O’Rourke, H., Duggleby, W., & Fraser, K. (2015). Embedding the perceptions of people with dementia into quantitative research design. Quality of Life Research, 24(5), 1145–1155.

O’Rourke et al. analyzed themes from two systematic reviews of qualitative evidence that discussed what things people with dementia identified that affected their quality of life. This article might be useful for a more accessible and easily dispersible quantitative project that sought to collect a broader range of data on people with dementia. The project could use the perspectives people offered about quality of life to inform their design for the study. Alternatively, the findings of this article could be used to create another qualitative study with questions and topics framed around the issues identified by the target group themselves. B.F.

Perry, J. (2018). Play-making with migrant farm workers in Ontario, Canada: a kinesthetic and embodied approach to qualitative research. Qualitative Research18(6), 689-705. doi:

Techniques: Poetic inquiry and interviews. Context: This article explores woman’s experiences of displacement and loss of sense of place with two participants in Newfoundland, Canada. This method could be useful for those doing a project related to displacement or other major life experiences which are significant and evoke emotion. (ED)

Phelan, Shanon K. (2011). Constructions of disability: a call for critical reflexivity in occupational therapy. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy 78, 164-172. DOI:

Phelan is an occupational therapist, and by using critical reflexivity towards her own career, she illuminates the assumptions about disability that are taken for granted by other occupational therapists. Phelan advocates for a critical perspective to also initiate social change, and naturally, a critical perspective is applicable to other disciplines as well. Critical reflexivity is an integral part of qualitative research, and for researchers, it acknowledges the assumptions that researchers bring from the very beginning. Thus, it is important to practice critical reflexivity in order to understand the researcher’s role within the process of the project. (MR)

Rockliffe, L., Chorley, A. J., Marlow, L. A. V., & Forster, A. S. (2018). It’s hard to reach the “hard-to-reach”: the challenges of recruiting people who do not access preventative healthcare services into interview studies. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health & Well-Being, 13 (1), 1.

This article addresses recruitment methods and how to gain access to participants that might not be eager to involve themselves in studies. Recruitment information may be useful for researchers working with marginalized or monitored communities that either aren’t comfortable sharing information or have limited access to researchers based on their circumstances. (AER)

Sabar, G., & Sabar Ben-Yehoshua, N. (2017). ‘I’ll sue you if you publish my wife’s interview’: ethical dilemmas in qualitative research based on life stories. Qualitative Research, 17(4), 408–423.’I’ll_sue_you_if_you_publish_my_wife’s_interview’_ethical_dilemmas_in_qualitative_research_based_on_life_stories

This article tackles challenging ethical issues within research dealing with sensitive topics, specifically during in-depth interviews with families in Israel, wherein certain aspects of the interview material may have been damaging to one or more members of the family who may or may not have been asked for approval to publish the statements (that is, either the statements were potentially damaging to the participant or were pejorative regarding another family member who had not participated). This article focuses on these interviews specifically, covering topics such as confidentiality, subjectivity, and consent. This article would be useful to anyone who is interested in the ethical dilemmas that may arise from sensitive research, critical engagement with research methods, or is interested in the intricacies in handling that sometimes arise from the interview process. (JD)

Spatz, B. (2017). Embodied Research: A Methodology. Liminalities: A Journal Of Performance Studies13(2).

Article introduce the methodology of embodied research, it covers what embodied research is, how to frame an embodied research project and how to analyse results. It’s a good overview and starting point for those interested in embodied research.

Snelson, C. L. (2016). Qualitative and Mixed Methods Social Media Research: A Review of the Literature. International Journal of Qualitative Methods15(1), 1–15.

In this article, Snelson presents an overview of trends in qualitative and mixed methods social media research. The articles examined revealed the most commonly used social media research approaches to be content analysis of Facebook posts, Tweets, Youtube videos, and more as their data source. Other popular social media research approaches were determined to be data collected though interview, focus group, and survey methodologies. This article reviewed 229 qualitative or mixed methods research articles that had a range of contexts (MS).

Stevenson, J., Keogh, P., Smith, J. & West, E. (2018). Reaching the Right People: Reflexive Practice to Support Effective Recruitment, Participation, and Engagment in Research with Communities Affected by Stigma. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17, 1-7.

This article addresses the challenges of ethical recruitment of participants when the research topic or participants are stigmatized or marginalized and emphasizes reflexivity throughout the research and recruiting process. The research project discussed in the article involved the study of women living with HIV. (D.E.)

Timonen, V., Foley, G., & Conlon, C. (2018). Challenges When Using Grounded                      Theory. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 17(1).                                                        doi:10.1177/1609406918758086 from                                                                                  

This article focuses on the grounded theory approach, its core principles, as well as misconceptions regarding GT. This article gives us background on the specific types of grounded theory (such as classical, constructivist, critical, and situational analysis), myths about the uses and end products of GT research, as well as core principles of GT research. This article will be useful to an individual looking to understand how to approach the method of grounded theory, as well as to increase their understanding of what GT actually is and how it can be applied in research. s.c.

Wang, X., Wang, X., Wu, J., & Zhao, G. (2017). Social Network Analysis of Actors in Rural Development: A Case Study of Yanhe Village, Hubei Province, China. Growth & Change48(4), 869–882.

This article uses Social Network Analysis (SNA) to conduct actor analysis of rural development in Yanhe village in the Hubei Province of China. This social network is made of actors from governments, village committees, villagers, rural economic cooperatives, enterprises, financing institutions, and NGOs contributing to the rural development of this village. (SL)

Zuckerman-Parker, M., & Shank, G. (2008). The Town Hall Focus Group: A New Format for Qualitative Research Methods. Qualitative Report,13(4), 630–635. Retrieved from direct=true&db=aph&AN=37243099&site=ehost-live

This article begins by discussing the parameters under which focus groups are usually conducted in qualitative research. The main parameter that is almost always observed is group size, typically between 6-8 participants. However, due to a situational circumstance, the authors had to conduct a focus group of 25 teachers to discuss summer work. This led them to develop the idea of the Town Hall Focus group consisting of a large number of participants. The goal of the article is to challenge the typical format of a focus group and encourage innovations to increase effectiveness of qualitative research with focus groups. This article would be most relevant to someone looking to conduct research with a large number of participants or a large diverse population of study who is unsure how to proceed to get the best results. SG.