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How To Write The Results/Findings Chapter

For qualitative studies (dissertations & theses).

By: Jenna Crossley (PhD Cand). Expert Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | August 2021

So, you’ve collected and analysed your qualitative data, and it’s time to write up your results chapter – exciting! But where do you start? In this post, we’ll guide you through the qualitative results chapter (also called the findings chapter), step by step.  

Overview: Qualitative Results Chapter

  • What (exactly) the qualitative results chapter is
  • What to include in your results chapter
  • How to write up your results chapter
  • A few tips and tricks to help you along the way

What exactly is the results chapter?

The results chapter in a dissertation or thesis (or any formal academic research piece) is where you objectively and neutrally present the findings of your qualitative analysis (or analyses if you used multiple qualitative analysis methods ). This chapter can sometimes be combined with the discussion chapter (where you interpret the data and discuss its meaning), depending on your university’s preference.  We’ll treat the two chapters as separate, as that’s the most common approach.

In contrast to a quantitative results chapter that presents numbers and statistics, a qualitative results chapter presents data primarily in the form of words . But this doesn’t mean that a qualitative study can’t have quantitative elements – you could, for example, present the number of times a theme or topic pops up in your data, depending on the analysis method(s) you adopt.

Adding a quantitative element to your study can add some rigour, which strengthens your results by providing more evidence for your claims. This is particularly common when using qualitative content analysis. Keep in mind though that qualitative research aims to achieve depth, richness and identify nuances , so don’t get tunnel vision by focusing on the numbers. They’re just cream on top in a qualitative analysis.

So, to recap, the results chapter is where you objectively present the findings of your analysis, without interpreting them (you’ll save that for the discussion chapter). With that out the way, let’s take a look at what you should include in your results chapter.

Only present the results, don't interpret them

What should you include in the results chapter?

As we’ve mentioned, your qualitative results chapter should purely present and describe your results , not interpret them in relation to the existing literature or your research questions . Any speculations or discussion about the implications of your findings should be reserved for your discussion chapter.

In your results chapter, you’ll want to talk about your analysis findings and whether or not they support your hypotheses (if you have any). Naturally, the exact contents of your results chapter will depend on which qualitative analysis method (or methods) you use. For example, if you were to use thematic analysis, you’d detail the themes identified in your analysis, using extracts from the transcripts or text to support your claims.

While you do need to present your analysis findings in some detail, you should avoid dumping large amounts of raw data in this chapter. Instead, focus on presenting the key findings and using a handful of select quotes or text extracts to support each finding . The reams of data and analysis can be relegated to your appendices.

While it’s tempting to include every last detail you found in your qualitative analysis, it is important to make sure that you report only that which is relevant to your research aims, objectives and research questions .  Always keep these three components, as well as your hypotheses (if you have any) front of mind when writing the chapter and use them as a filter to decide what’s relevant and what’s not.

Need a helping hand?

example of results and discussion in a qualitative research paper

How do I write the results chapter?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to look at how to structure your chapter. Broadly speaking, the results chapter needs to contain three core components – the introduction, the body and the concluding summary. Let’s take a look at each of these.

Section 1: Introduction

The first step is to craft a brief introduction to the chapter. This intro is vital as it provides some context for your findings. In your introduction, you should begin by reiterating your problem statement and research questions and highlight the purpose of your research . Make sure that you spell this out for the reader so that the rest of your chapter is well contextualised.

The next step is to briefly outline the structure of your results chapter. In other words, explain what’s included in the chapter and what the reader can expect. In the results chapter, you want to tell a story that is coherent, flows logically, and is easy to follow , so make sure that you plan your structure out well and convey that structure (at a high level), so that your reader is well oriented.

The introduction section shouldn’t be lengthy. Two or three short paragraphs should be more than adequate. It is merely an introduction and overview, not a summary of the chapter.

Pro Tip – To help you structure your chapter, it can be useful to set up an initial draft with (sub)section headings so that you’re able to easily (re)arrange parts of your chapter. This will also help your reader to follow your results and give your chapter some coherence.  Be sure to use level-based heading styles (e.g. Heading 1, 2, 3 styles) to help the reader differentiate between levels visually. You can find these options in Word (example below).

Heading styles in the results chapter

Section 2: Body

Before we get started on what to include in the body of your chapter, it’s vital to remember that a results section should be completely objective and descriptive, not interpretive . So, be careful not to use words such as, “suggests” or “implies”, as these usually accompany some form of interpretation – that’s reserved for your discussion chapter.

The structure of your body section is very important , so make sure that you plan it out well. When planning out your qualitative results chapter, create sections and subsections so that you can maintain the flow of the story you’re trying to tell. Be sure to systematically and consistently describe each portion of results. Try to adopt a standardised structure for each portion so that you achieve a high level of consistency throughout the chapter.

For qualitative studies, results chapters tend to be structured according to themes , which makes it easier for readers to follow. However, keep in mind that not all results chapters have to be structured in this manner. For example, if you’re conducting a longitudinal study, you may want to structure your chapter chronologically. Similarly, you might structure this chapter based on your theoretical framework . The exact structure of your chapter will depend on the nature of your study , especially your research questions.

As you work through the body of your chapter, make sure that you use quotes to substantiate every one of your claims . You can present these quotes in italics to differentiate them from your own words. A general rule of thumb is to use at least two pieces of evidence per claim, and these should be linked directly to your data. Also, remember that you need to include all relevant results , not just the ones that support your assumptions or initial leanings.

In addition to including quotes, you can also link your claims to the data by using appendices , which you should reference throughout your text. When you reference, make sure that you include both the name/number of the appendix , as well as the line(s) from which you drew your data.

As referencing styles can vary greatly, be sure to look up the appendix referencing conventions of your university’s prescribed style (e.g. APA , Harvard, etc) and keep this consistent throughout your chapter.

Consistency is key

Section 3: Concluding summary

The concluding summary is very important because it summarises your key findings and lays the foundation for the discussion chapter . Keep in mind that some readers may skip directly to this section (from the introduction section), so make sure that it can be read and understood well in isolation.

In this section, you need to remind the reader of the key findings. That is, the results that directly relate to your research questions and that you will build upon in your discussion chapter. Remember, your reader has digested a lot of information in this chapter, so you need to use this section to remind them of the most important takeaways.

Importantly, the concluding summary should not present any new information and should only describe what you’ve already presented in your chapter. Keep it concise – you’re not summarising the whole chapter, just the essentials.

Tips and tricks for an A-grade results chapter

Now that you’ve got a clear picture of what the qualitative results chapter is all about, here are some quick tips and reminders to help you craft a high-quality chapter:

  • Your results chapter should be written in the past tense . You’ve done the work already, so you want to tell the reader what you found , not what you are currently finding .
  • Make sure that you review your work multiple times and check that every claim is adequately backed up by evidence . Aim for at least two examples per claim, and make use of an appendix to reference these.
  • When writing up your results, make sure that you stick to only what is relevant . Don’t waste time on data that are not relevant to your research objectives and research questions.
  • Use headings and subheadings to create an intuitive, easy to follow piece of writing. Make use of Microsoft Word’s “heading styles” and be sure to use them consistently.
  • When referring to numerical data, tables and figures can provide a useful visual aid. When using these, make sure that they can be read and understood independent of your body text (i.e. that they can stand-alone). To this end, use clear, concise labels for each of your tables or figures and make use of colours to code indicate differences or hierarchy.
  • Similarly, when you’re writing up your chapter, it can be useful to highlight topics and themes in different colours . This can help you to differentiate between your data if you get a bit overwhelmed and will also help you to ensure that your results flow logically and coherently.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help. If you’d like 1-on-1 help with your results chapter (or any chapter of your dissertation or thesis), check out our private dissertation coaching service here or book a free initial consultation to discuss how we can help you.

example of results and discussion in a qualitative research paper

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Quantitative results chapter in a dissertation


David Person

This was extremely helpful. Thanks a lot guys


Hi, thanks for the great research support platform created by the gradcoach team!

I wanted to ask- While “suggests” or “implies” are interpretive terms, what terms could we use for the results chapter? Could you share some examples of descriptive terms?

Llala Phoshoko

I found this article very useful. Thank you very much for the outstanding work you are doing.


What if i have 3 different interviewees answering the same interview questions? Should i then present the results in form of the table with the division on the 3 perspectives or rather give a results in form of the text and highlight who said what?


I think this tabular representation of results is a great idea. I am doing it too along with the text. Thanks

Nomonde Mteto

That was helpful was struggling to separate the discussion from the findings

Esther Peter.

this was very useful, Thank you.


Very helpful, I am confident to write my results chapter now.


It is so helpful! It is a good job. Thank you very much!


Very useful, well explained. Many thanks.

Agnes Ngatuni

Hello, I appreciate the way you provided a supportive comments about qualitative results presenting tips

Carol Ch

I loved this! It explains everything needed, and it has helped me better organize my thoughts. What words should I not use while writing my results section, other than subjective ones.


Thanks a lot, it is really helpful

Anna milanga

Thank you so much dear, i really appropriate your nice explanations about this.


Thank you so much for this! I was wondering if anyone could help with how to prproperly integrate quotations (Excerpts) from interviews in the finding chapter in a qualitative research. Please GradCoach, address this issue and provide examples.


what if I’m not doing any interviews myself and all the information is coming from case studies that have already done the research.


Very helpful thank you.

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example of results and discussion in a qualitative research paper

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Chinese as a Second Language Multilinguals’ Speech Competence and Speech Performance pp 167–224 Cite as

Qualitative Results and Discussion

  • Peijian Paul Sun 2  
  • First Online: 20 August 2020

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This chapter presents the results and discussion in line with the five research questions of the present study based on the qualitative data collected from the focus groups and semi-structured interviews. A total of 7 focus groups and 10 semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the research questions from a more in-depth qualitative perspective. Two types of interviews were utilized in order to bring different lines of insights together to ensure that more profound and appropriate understandings of the research questions could be facilitated. This chapter starts with an introduction to the background information of the participants and the coding system. The qualitative findings in relation to each research question are presented sequentially followed by a summary and discussion.

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  • How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

The discussion section contains the results and outcomes of a study. An effective discussion informs readers what can be learned from your experiment and provides context for the results.

What makes an effective discussion?

When you’re ready to write your discussion, you’ve already introduced the purpose of your study and provided an in-depth description of the methodology. The discussion informs readers about the larger implications of your study based on the results. Highlighting these implications while not overstating the findings can be challenging, especially when you’re submitting to a journal that selects articles based on novelty or potential impact. Regardless of what journal you are submitting to, the discussion section always serves the same purpose: concluding what your study results actually mean.

A successful discussion section puts your findings in context. It should include:

  • the results of your research,
  • a discussion of related research, and
  • a comparison between your results and initial hypothesis.

Tip: Not all journals share the same naming conventions.

You can apply the advice in this article to the conclusion, results or discussion sections of your manuscript.

Our Early Career Researcher community tells us that the conclusion is often considered the most difficult aspect of a manuscript to write. To help, this guide provides questions to ask yourself, a basic structure to model your discussion off of and examples from published manuscripts. 

example of results and discussion in a qualitative research paper

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Was my hypothesis correct?
  • If my hypothesis is partially correct or entirely different, what can be learned from the results? 
  • How do the conclusions reshape or add onto the existing knowledge in the field? What does previous research say about the topic? 
  • Why are the results important or relevant to your audience? Do they add further evidence to a scientific consensus or disprove prior studies? 
  • How can future research build on these observations? What are the key experiments that must be done? 
  • What is the “take-home” message you want your reader to leave with?

How to structure a discussion

Trying to fit a complete discussion into a single paragraph can add unnecessary stress to the writing process. If possible, you’ll want to give yourself two or three paragraphs to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of your study as a whole. Here’s one way to structure an effective discussion:

example of results and discussion in a qualitative research paper

Writing Tips

While the above sections can help you brainstorm and structure your discussion, there are many common mistakes that writers revert to when having difficulties with their paper. Writing a discussion can be a delicate balance between summarizing your results, providing proper context for your research and avoiding introducing new information. Remember that your paper should be both confident and honest about the results! 

What to do

  • Read the journal’s guidelines on the discussion and conclusion sections. If possible, learn about the guidelines before writing the discussion to ensure you’re writing to meet their expectations. 
  • Begin with a clear statement of the principal findings. This will reinforce the main take-away for the reader and set up the rest of the discussion. 
  • Explain why the outcomes of your study are important to the reader. Discuss the implications of your findings realistically based on previous literature, highlighting both the strengths and limitations of the research. 
  • State whether the results prove or disprove your hypothesis. If your hypothesis was disproved, what might be the reasons? 
  • Introduce new or expanded ways to think about the research question. Indicate what next steps can be taken to further pursue any unresolved questions. 
  • If dealing with a contemporary or ongoing problem, such as climate change, discuss possible consequences if the problem is avoided. 
  • Be concise. Adding unnecessary detail can distract from the main findings. 

What not to do


  • Rewrite your abstract. Statements with “we investigated” or “we studied” generally do not belong in the discussion. 
  • Include new arguments or evidence not previously discussed. Necessary information and evidence should be introduced in the main body of the paper. 
  • Apologize. Even if your research contains significant limitations, don’t undermine your authority by including statements that doubt your methodology or execution. 
  • Shy away from speaking on limitations or negative results. Including limitations and negative results will give readers a complete understanding of the presented research. Potential limitations include sources of potential bias, threats to internal or external validity, barriers to implementing an intervention and other issues inherent to the study design. 
  • Overstate the importance of your findings. Making grand statements about how a study will fully resolve large questions can lead readers to doubt the success of the research. 

Snippets of Effective Discussions:

Consumer-based actions to reduce plastic pollution in rivers: A multi-criteria decision analysis approach

Identifying reliable indicators of fitness in polar bears

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  • What Is Qualitative Research? | Methods & Examples

What Is Qualitative Research? | Methods & Examples

Published on June 19, 2020 by Pritha Bhandari . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Qualitative research involves collecting and analyzing non-numerical data (e.g., text, video, or audio) to understand concepts, opinions, or experiences. It can be used to gather in-depth insights into a problem or generate new ideas for research.

Qualitative research is the opposite of quantitative research , which involves collecting and analyzing numerical data for statistical analysis.

Qualitative research is commonly used in the humanities and social sciences, in subjects such as anthropology, sociology, education, health sciences, history, etc.

  • How does social media shape body image in teenagers?
  • How do children and adults interpret healthy eating in the UK?
  • What factors influence employee retention in a large organization?
  • How is anxiety experienced around the world?
  • How can teachers integrate social issues into science curriculums?

Table of contents

Approaches to qualitative research, qualitative research methods, qualitative data analysis, advantages of qualitative research, disadvantages of qualitative research, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about qualitative research.

Qualitative research is used to understand how people experience the world. While there are many approaches to qualitative research, they tend to be flexible and focus on retaining rich meaning when interpreting data.

Common approaches include grounded theory, ethnography , action research , phenomenological research, and narrative research. They share some similarities, but emphasize different aims and perspectives.

Note that qualitative research is at risk for certain research biases including the Hawthorne effect , observer bias , recall bias , and social desirability bias . While not always totally avoidable, awareness of potential biases as you collect and analyze your data can prevent them from impacting your work too much.

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Each of the research approaches involve using one or more data collection methods . These are some of the most common qualitative methods:

  • Observations: recording what you have seen, heard, or encountered in detailed field notes.
  • Interviews:  personally asking people questions in one-on-one conversations.
  • Focus groups: asking questions and generating discussion among a group of people.
  • Surveys : distributing questionnaires with open-ended questions.
  • Secondary research: collecting existing data in the form of texts, images, audio or video recordings, etc.
  • You take field notes with observations and reflect on your own experiences of the company culture.
  • You distribute open-ended surveys to employees across all the company’s offices by email to find out if the culture varies across locations.
  • You conduct in-depth interviews with employees in your office to learn about their experiences and perspectives in greater detail.

Qualitative researchers often consider themselves “instruments” in research because all observations, interpretations and analyses are filtered through their own personal lens.

For this reason, when writing up your methodology for qualitative research, it’s important to reflect on your approach and to thoroughly explain the choices you made in collecting and analyzing the data.

Qualitative data can take the form of texts, photos, videos and audio. For example, you might be working with interview transcripts, survey responses, fieldnotes, or recordings from natural settings.

Most types of qualitative data analysis share the same five steps:

  • Prepare and organize your data. This may mean transcribing interviews or typing up fieldnotes.
  • Review and explore your data. Examine the data for patterns or repeated ideas that emerge.
  • Develop a data coding system. Based on your initial ideas, establish a set of codes that you can apply to categorize your data.
  • Assign codes to the data. For example, in qualitative survey analysis, this may mean going through each participant’s responses and tagging them with codes in a spreadsheet. As you go through your data, you can create new codes to add to your system if necessary.
  • Identify recurring themes. Link codes together into cohesive, overarching themes.

There are several specific approaches to analyzing qualitative data. Although these methods share similar processes, they emphasize different concepts.

Qualitative research often tries to preserve the voice and perspective of participants and can be adjusted as new research questions arise. Qualitative research is good for:

  • Flexibility

The data collection and analysis process can be adapted as new ideas or patterns emerge. They are not rigidly decided beforehand.

  • Natural settings

Data collection occurs in real-world contexts or in naturalistic ways.

  • Meaningful insights

Detailed descriptions of people’s experiences, feelings and perceptions can be used in designing, testing or improving systems or products.

  • Generation of new ideas

Open-ended responses mean that researchers can uncover novel problems or opportunities that they wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

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example of results and discussion in a qualitative research paper

Researchers must consider practical and theoretical limitations in analyzing and interpreting their data. Qualitative research suffers from:

  • Unreliability

The real-world setting often makes qualitative research unreliable because of uncontrolled factors that affect the data.

  • Subjectivity

Due to the researcher’s primary role in analyzing and interpreting data, qualitative research cannot be replicated . The researcher decides what is important and what is irrelevant in data analysis, so interpretations of the same data can vary greatly.

  • Limited generalizability

Small samples are often used to gather detailed data about specific contexts. Despite rigorous analysis procedures, it is difficult to draw generalizable conclusions because the data may be biased and unrepresentative of the wider population .

  • Labor-intensive

Although software can be used to manage and record large amounts of text, data analysis often has to be checked or performed manually.

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square goodness of fit test
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

There are five common approaches to qualitative research :

  • Grounded theory involves collecting data in order to develop new theories.
  • Ethnography involves immersing yourself in a group or organization to understand its culture.
  • Narrative research involves interpreting stories to understand how people make sense of their experiences and perceptions.
  • Phenomenological research involves investigating phenomena through people’s lived experiences.
  • Action research links theory and practice in several cycles to drive innovative changes.

Data collection is the systematic process by which observations or measurements are gathered in research. It is used in many different contexts by academics, governments, businesses, and other organizations.

There are various approaches to qualitative data analysis , but they all share five steps in common:

  • Prepare and organize your data.
  • Review and explore your data.
  • Develop a data coding system.
  • Assign codes to the data.
  • Identify recurring themes.

The specifics of each step depend on the focus of the analysis. Some common approaches include textual analysis , thematic analysis , and discourse analysis .

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While it is more common for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) researchers to write separate, distinct chapters for their data/ results and analysis/ discussion , the same sections can feel less clearly defined for a researcher in Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (SSAH). This article will look specifically at some useful approaches to writing the analysis and discussion chapters in qualitative/SSAH research.

Note : Most of the differences in approaches to research, writing, analysis and discussion come down, ultimately, to differences in epistemology – how we approach, create and work with knowledge in our respective fields. However, this is a vast topic that deserves a separate discussion.

Look for emerging themes and patterns

The ‘results’ of qualitative research can sometimes be harder to pinpoint than in quantitative research. You’re not dealing with definitive numbers and results in the same way as, say, a scientist conducting experiments that produce measurable data. Instead, most qualitative researchers explore prominent, interesting themes and patterns emerging from their data – that could comprise interviews, textual material or participant observation, for example. 

You may find that your data presents a huge number of themes, issues and topics, all of which you might find equally significant and interesting. In fact, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the many directions that your research could take, depending on which themes you choose to study in further depth. You may even discover issues and patterns that you had not expected , that may necessitate having to change or expand the research focus you initially started off with.

It is crucial at this point not to panic. Instead, try to enjoy the many possibilities that your data is offering you. It can be useful to remind yourself at each stage of exactly what you are trying to find out through this research.

What exactly do you want to know? What knowledge do you want to generate and share within your field?

Then, spend some time reflecting upon each of the themes that seem most interesting and significant, and consider whether they are immediately relevant to your main, overarching research objectives and goals.

Suggestion: Don’t worry too much about structure and flow at the early stages of writing your discussion . It would be a more valuable use of your time to fully explore the themes and issues arising from your data first, while also reading widely alongside your writing (more on this below). As you work more intimately with the data and develop your ideas, the overarching narrative and connections between those ideas will begin to emerge. Trust that you’ll be able to draw those links and craft the structure organically as you write.

Let your data guide you

A key characteristic of qualitative research is that the researchers allow their data to ‘speak’ and guide their research and their writing. Instead of insisting too strongly upon the prominence of specific themes and issues and imposing their opinions and beliefs upon the data, a good qualitative researcher ‘listens’ to what the data has to tell them.

Again, you might find yourself having to address unexpected issues or your data may reveal things that seem completely contradictory to the ideas and theories you have worked with so far. Although this might seem worrying, discovering these unexpected new elements can actually make your research much richer and more interesting. 

Suggestion: Allow yourself to follow those leads and ask new questions as you work through your data. These new directions could help you to answer your research questions in more depth and with greater complexity; or they could even open up other avenues for further study, either in this or future research.

Work closely with the literature

As you analyse and discuss the prominent themes, arguments and findings arising from your data, it is very helpful to maintain a regular and consistent reading practice alongside your writing. Return to the literature that you’ve already been reading so far or begin to check out new texts, studies and theories that might be more appropriate for working with any new ideas and themes arising from your data.

Reading and incorporating relevant literature into your writing as you work through your analysis and discussion will help you to consistently contextualise your research within the larger body of knowledge. It will be easier to stay focused on what you are trying to say through your research if you can simultaneously show what has already been said on the subject and how your research and data supports, challenges or extends those debates. By drawing from existing literature , you are setting up a dialogue between your research and prior work, and highlighting what this research has to add to the conversation.

Suggestion : Although it might sometimes feel tedious to have to blend others’ writing in with yours, this is ultimately the best way to showcase the specialness of your own data, findings and research . Remember that it is more difficult to highlight the significance and relevance of your original work without first showing how that work fits into or responds to existing studies. 

In conclusion

The discussion chapters form the heart of your thesis and this is where your unique contribution comes to the forefront. This is where your data takes centre-stage and where you get to showcase your original arguments, perspectives and knowledge. To do this effectively needs you to explore the original themes and issues arising from and within the data, while simultaneously contextualising these findings within the larger, existing body of knowledge of your specialising field. By striking this balance, you prove the two most important qualities of excellent qualitative research : keen awareness of your field and a firm understanding of your place in it.

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Qualitative Research: Data Collection, Analysis, and Management


In an earlier paper, 1 we presented an introduction to using qualitative research methods in pharmacy practice. In this article, we review some principles of the collection, analysis, and management of qualitative data to help pharmacists interested in doing research in their practice to continue their learning in this area. Qualitative research can help researchers to access the thoughts and feelings of research participants, which can enable development of an understanding of the meaning that people ascribe to their experiences. Whereas quantitative research methods can be used to determine how many people undertake particular behaviours, qualitative methods can help researchers to understand how and why such behaviours take place. Within the context of pharmacy practice research, qualitative approaches have been used to examine a diverse array of topics, including the perceptions of key stakeholders regarding prescribing by pharmacists and the postgraduation employment experiences of young pharmacists (see “Further Reading” section at the end of this article).

In the previous paper, 1 we outlined 3 commonly used methodologies: ethnography 2 , grounded theory 3 , and phenomenology. 4 Briefly, ethnography involves researchers using direct observation to study participants in their “real life” environment, sometimes over extended periods. Grounded theory and its later modified versions (e.g., Strauss and Corbin 5 ) use face-to-face interviews and interactions such as focus groups to explore a particular research phenomenon and may help in clarifying a less-well-understood problem, situation, or context. Phenomenology shares some features with grounded theory (such as an exploration of participants’ behaviour) and uses similar techniques to collect data, but it focuses on understanding how human beings experience their world. It gives researchers the opportunity to put themselves in another person’s shoes and to understand the subjective experiences of participants. 6 Some researchers use qualitative methodologies but adopt a different standpoint, and an example of this appears in the work of Thurston and others, 7 discussed later in this paper.

Qualitative work requires reflection on the part of researchers, both before and during the research process, as a way of providing context and understanding for readers. When being reflexive, researchers should not try to simply ignore or avoid their own biases (as this would likely be impossible); instead, reflexivity requires researchers to reflect upon and clearly articulate their position and subjectivities (world view, perspectives, biases), so that readers can better understand the filters through which questions were asked, data were gathered and analyzed, and findings were reported. From this perspective, bias and subjectivity are not inherently negative but they are unavoidable; as a result, it is best that they be articulated up-front in a manner that is clear and coherent for readers.


What qualitative study seeks to convey is why people have thoughts and feelings that might affect the way they behave. Such study may occur in any number of contexts, but here, we focus on pharmacy practice and the way people behave with regard to medicines use (e.g., to understand patients’ reasons for nonadherence with medication therapy or to explore physicians’ resistance to pharmacists’ clinical suggestions). As we suggested in our earlier article, 1 an important point about qualitative research is that there is no attempt to generalize the findings to a wider population. Qualitative research is used to gain insights into people’s feelings and thoughts, which may provide the basis for a future stand-alone qualitative study or may help researchers to map out survey instruments for use in a quantitative study. It is also possible to use different types of research in the same study, an approach known as “mixed methods” research, and further reading on this topic may be found at the end of this paper.

The role of the researcher in qualitative research is to attempt to access the thoughts and feelings of study participants. This is not an easy task, as it involves asking people to talk about things that may be very personal to them. Sometimes the experiences being explored are fresh in the participant’s mind, whereas on other occasions reliving past experiences may be difficult. However the data are being collected, a primary responsibility of the researcher is to safeguard participants and their data. Mechanisms for such safeguarding must be clearly articulated to participants and must be approved by a relevant research ethics review board before the research begins. Researchers and practitioners new to qualitative research should seek advice from an experienced qualitative researcher before embarking on their project.


Whatever philosophical standpoint the researcher is taking and whatever the data collection method (e.g., focus group, one-to-one interviews), the process will involve the generation of large amounts of data. In addition to the variety of study methodologies available, there are also different ways of making a record of what is said and done during an interview or focus group, such as taking handwritten notes or video-recording. If the researcher is audio- or video-recording data collection, then the recordings must be transcribed verbatim before data analysis can begin. As a rough guide, it can take an experienced researcher/transcriber 8 hours to transcribe one 45-minute audio-recorded interview, a process than will generate 20–30 pages of written dialogue.

Many researchers will also maintain a folder of “field notes” to complement audio-taped interviews. Field notes allow the researcher to maintain and comment upon impressions, environmental contexts, behaviours, and nonverbal cues that may not be adequately captured through the audio-recording; they are typically handwritten in a small notebook at the same time the interview takes place. Field notes can provide important context to the interpretation of audio-taped data and can help remind the researcher of situational factors that may be important during data analysis. Such notes need not be formal, but they should be maintained and secured in a similar manner to audio tapes and transcripts, as they contain sensitive information and are relevant to the research. For more information about collecting qualitative data, please see the “Further Reading” section at the end of this paper.


If, as suggested earlier, doing qualitative research is about putting oneself in another person’s shoes and seeing the world from that person’s perspective, the most important part of data analysis and management is to be true to the participants. It is their voices that the researcher is trying to hear, so that they can be interpreted and reported on for others to read and learn from. To illustrate this point, consider the anonymized transcript excerpt presented in Appendix 1 , which is taken from a research interview conducted by one of the authors (J.S.). We refer to this excerpt throughout the remainder of this paper to illustrate how data can be managed, analyzed, and presented.

Interpretation of Data

Interpretation of the data will depend on the theoretical standpoint taken by researchers. For example, the title of the research report by Thurston and others, 7 “Discordant indigenous and provider frames explain challenges in improving access to arthritis care: a qualitative study using constructivist grounded theory,” indicates at least 2 theoretical standpoints. The first is the culture of the indigenous population of Canada and the place of this population in society, and the second is the social constructivist theory used in the constructivist grounded theory method. With regard to the first standpoint, it can be surmised that, to have decided to conduct the research, the researchers must have felt that there was anecdotal evidence of differences in access to arthritis care for patients from indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds. With regard to the second standpoint, it can be surmised that the researchers used social constructivist theory because it assumes that behaviour is socially constructed; in other words, people do things because of the expectations of those in their personal world or in the wider society in which they live. (Please see the “Further Reading” section for resources providing more information about social constructivist theory and reflexivity.) Thus, these 2 standpoints (and there may have been others relevant to the research of Thurston and others 7 ) will have affected the way in which these researchers interpreted the experiences of the indigenous population participants and those providing their care. Another standpoint is feminist standpoint theory which, among other things, focuses on marginalized groups in society. Such theories are helpful to researchers, as they enable us to think about things from a different perspective. Being aware of the standpoints you are taking in your own research is one of the foundations of qualitative work. Without such awareness, it is easy to slip into interpreting other people’s narratives from your own viewpoint, rather than that of the participants.

To analyze the example in Appendix 1 , we will adopt a phenomenological approach because we want to understand how the participant experienced the illness and we want to try to see the experience from that person’s perspective. It is important for the researcher to reflect upon and articulate his or her starting point for such analysis; for example, in the example, the coder could reflect upon her own experience as a female of a majority ethnocultural group who has lived within middle class and upper middle class settings. This personal history therefore forms the filter through which the data will be examined. This filter does not diminish the quality or significance of the analysis, since every researcher has his or her own filters; however, by explicitly stating and acknowledging what these filters are, the researcher makes it easer for readers to contextualize the work.

Transcribing and Checking

For the purposes of this paper it is assumed that interviews or focus groups have been audio-recorded. As mentioned above, transcribing is an arduous process, even for the most experienced transcribers, but it must be done to convert the spoken word to the written word to facilitate analysis. For anyone new to conducting qualitative research, it is beneficial to transcribe at least one interview and one focus group. It is only by doing this that researchers realize how difficult the task is, and this realization affects their expectations when asking others to transcribe. If the research project has sufficient funding, then a professional transcriber can be hired to do the work. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to sit down with the transcriber, if possible, and talk through the research and what the participants were talking about. This background knowledge for the transcriber is especially important in research in which people are using jargon or medical terms (as in pharmacy practice). Involving your transcriber in this way makes the work both easier and more rewarding, as he or she will feel part of the team. Transcription editing software is also available, but it is expensive. For example, ELAN (more formally known as EUDICO Linguistic Annotator, developed at the Technical University of Berlin) 8 is a tool that can help keep data organized by linking media and data files (particularly valuable if, for example, video-taping of interviews is complemented by transcriptions). It can also be helpful in searching complex data sets. Products such as ELAN do not actually automatically transcribe interviews or complete analyses, and they do require some time and effort to learn; nonetheless, for some research applications, it may be a valuable to consider such software tools.

All audio recordings should be transcribed verbatim, regardless of how intelligible the transcript may be when it is read back. Lines of text should be numbered. Once the transcription is complete, the researcher should read it while listening to the recording and do the following: correct any spelling or other errors; anonymize the transcript so that the participant cannot be identified from anything that is said (e.g., names, places, significant events); insert notations for pauses, laughter, looks of discomfort; insert any punctuation, such as commas and full stops (periods) (see Appendix 1 for examples of inserted punctuation), and include any other contextual information that might have affected the participant (e.g., temperature or comfort of the room).

Dealing with the transcription of a focus group is slightly more difficult, as multiple voices are involved. One way of transcribing such data is to “tag” each voice (e.g., Voice A, Voice B). In addition, the focus group will usually have 2 facilitators, whose respective roles will help in making sense of the data. While one facilitator guides participants through the topic, the other can make notes about context and group dynamics. More information about group dynamics and focus groups can be found in resources listed in the “Further Reading” section.

Reading between the Lines

During the process outlined above, the researcher can begin to get a feel for the participant’s experience of the phenomenon in question and can start to think about things that could be pursued in subsequent interviews or focus groups (if appropriate). In this way, one participant’s narrative informs the next, and the researcher can continue to interview until nothing new is being heard or, as it says in the text books, “saturation is reached”. While continuing with the processes of coding and theming (described in the next 2 sections), it is important to consider not just what the person is saying but also what they are not saying. For example, is a lengthy pause an indication that the participant is finding the subject difficult, or is the person simply deciding what to say? The aim of the whole process from data collection to presentation is to tell the participants’ stories using exemplars from their own narratives, thus grounding the research findings in the participants’ lived experiences.

Smith 9 suggested a qualitative research method known as interpretative phenomenological analysis, which has 2 basic tenets: first, that it is rooted in phenomenology, attempting to understand the meaning that individuals ascribe to their lived experiences, and second, that the researcher must attempt to interpret this meaning in the context of the research. That the researcher has some knowledge and expertise in the subject of the research means that he or she can have considerable scope in interpreting the participant’s experiences. Larkin and others 10 discussed the importance of not just providing a description of what participants say. Rather, interpretative phenomenological analysis is about getting underneath what a person is saying to try to truly understand the world from his or her perspective.

Once all of the research interviews have been transcribed and checked, it is time to begin coding. Field notes compiled during an interview can be a useful complementary source of information to facilitate this process, as the gap in time between an interview, transcribing, and coding can result in memory bias regarding nonverbal or environmental context issues that may affect interpretation of data.

Coding refers to the identification of topics, issues, similarities, and differences that are revealed through the participants’ narratives and interpreted by the researcher. This process enables the researcher to begin to understand the world from each participant’s perspective. Coding can be done by hand on a hard copy of the transcript, by making notes in the margin or by highlighting and naming sections of text. More commonly, researchers use qualitative research software (e.g., NVivo, QSR International Pty Ltd; ) to help manage their transcriptions. It is advised that researchers undertake a formal course in the use of such software or seek supervision from a researcher experienced in these tools.

Returning to Appendix 1 and reading from lines 8–11, a code for this section might be “diagnosis of mental health condition”, but this would just be a description of what the participant is talking about at that point. If we read a little more deeply, we can ask ourselves how the participant might have come to feel that the doctor assumed he or she was aware of the diagnosis or indeed that they had only just been told the diagnosis. There are a number of pauses in the narrative that might suggest the participant is finding it difficult to recall that experience. Later in the text, the participant says “nobody asked me any questions about my life” (line 19). This could be coded simply as “health care professionals’ consultation skills”, but that would not reflect how the participant must have felt never to be asked anything about his or her personal life, about the participant as a human being. At the end of this excerpt, the participant just trails off, recalling that no-one showed any interest, which makes for very moving reading. For practitioners in pharmacy, it might also be pertinent to explore the participant’s experience of akathisia and why this was left untreated for 20 years.

One of the questions that arises about qualitative research relates to the reliability of the interpretation and representation of the participants’ narratives. There are no statistical tests that can be used to check reliability and validity as there are in quantitative research. However, work by Lincoln and Guba 11 suggests that there are other ways to “establish confidence in the ‘truth’ of the findings” (p. 218). They call this confidence “trustworthiness” and suggest that there are 4 criteria of trustworthiness: credibility (confidence in the “truth” of the findings), transferability (showing that the findings have applicability in other contexts), dependability (showing that the findings are consistent and could be repeated), and confirmability (the extent to which the findings of a study are shaped by the respondents and not researcher bias, motivation, or interest).

One way of establishing the “credibility” of the coding is to ask another researcher to code the same transcript and then to discuss any similarities and differences in the 2 resulting sets of codes. This simple act can result in revisions to the codes and can help to clarify and confirm the research findings.

Theming refers to the drawing together of codes from one or more transcripts to present the findings of qualitative research in a coherent and meaningful way. For example, there may be examples across participants’ narratives of the way in which they were treated in hospital, such as “not being listened to” or “lack of interest in personal experiences” (see Appendix 1 ). These may be drawn together as a theme running through the narratives that could be named “the patient’s experience of hospital care”. The importance of going through this process is that at its conclusion, it will be possible to present the data from the interviews using quotations from the individual transcripts to illustrate the source of the researchers’ interpretations. Thus, when the findings are organized for presentation, each theme can become the heading of a section in the report or presentation. Underneath each theme will be the codes, examples from the transcripts, and the researcher’s own interpretation of what the themes mean. Implications for real life (e.g., the treatment of people with chronic mental health problems) should also be given.


In this final section of this paper, we describe some ways of drawing together or “synthesizing” research findings to represent, as faithfully as possible, the meaning that participants ascribe to their life experiences. This synthesis is the aim of the final stage of qualitative research. For most readers, the synthesis of data presented by the researcher is of crucial significance—this is usually where “the story” of the participants can be distilled, summarized, and told in a manner that is both respectful to those participants and meaningful to readers. There are a number of ways in which researchers can synthesize and present their findings, but any conclusions drawn by the researchers must be supported by direct quotations from the participants. In this way, it is made clear to the reader that the themes under discussion have emerged from the participants’ interviews and not the mind of the researcher. The work of Latif and others 12 gives an example of how qualitative research findings might be presented.

Planning and Writing the Report

As has been suggested above, if researchers code and theme their material appropriately, they will naturally find the headings for sections of their report. Qualitative researchers tend to report “findings” rather than “results”, as the latter term typically implies that the data have come from a quantitative source. The final presentation of the research will usually be in the form of a report or a paper and so should follow accepted academic guidelines. In particular, the article should begin with an introduction, including a literature review and rationale for the research. There should be a section on the chosen methodology and a brief discussion about why qualitative methodology was most appropriate for the study question and why one particular methodology (e.g., interpretative phenomenological analysis rather than grounded theory) was selected to guide the research. The method itself should then be described, including ethics approval, choice of participants, mode of recruitment, and method of data collection (e.g., semistructured interviews or focus groups), followed by the research findings, which will be the main body of the report or paper. The findings should be written as if a story is being told; as such, it is not necessary to have a lengthy discussion section at the end. This is because much of the discussion will take place around the participants’ quotes, such that all that is needed to close the report or paper is a summary, limitations of the research, and the implications that the research has for practice. As stated earlier, it is not the intention of qualitative research to allow the findings to be generalized, and therefore this is not, in itself, a limitation.

Planning out the way that findings are to be presented is helpful. It is useful to insert the headings of the sections (the themes) and then make a note of the codes that exemplify the thoughts and feelings of your participants. It is generally advisable to put in the quotations that you want to use for each theme, using each quotation only once. After all this is done, the telling of the story can begin as you give your voice to the experiences of the participants, writing around their quotations. Do not be afraid to draw assumptions from the participants’ narratives, as this is necessary to give an in-depth account of the phenomena in question. Discuss these assumptions, drawing on your participants’ words to support you as you move from one code to another and from one theme to the next. Finally, as appropriate, it is possible to include examples from literature or policy documents that add support for your findings. As an exercise, you may wish to code and theme the sample excerpt in Appendix 1 and tell the participant’s story in your own way. Further reading about “doing” qualitative research can be found at the end of this paper.


Qualitative research can help researchers to access the thoughts and feelings of research participants, which can enable development of an understanding of the meaning that people ascribe to their experiences. It can be used in pharmacy practice research to explore how patients feel about their health and their treatment. Qualitative research has been used by pharmacists to explore a variety of questions and problems (see the “Further Reading” section for examples). An understanding of these issues can help pharmacists and other health care professionals to tailor health care to match the individual needs of patients and to develop a concordant relationship. Doing qualitative research is not easy and may require a complete rethink of how research is conducted, particularly for researchers who are more familiar with quantitative approaches. There are many ways of conducting qualitative research, and this paper has covered some of the practical issues regarding data collection, analysis, and management. Further reading around the subject will be essential to truly understand this method of accessing peoples’ thoughts and feelings to enable researchers to tell participants’ stories.

Appendix 1. Excerpt from a sample transcript

The participant (age late 50s) had suffered from a chronic mental health illness for 30 years. The participant had become a “revolving door patient,” someone who is frequently in and out of hospital. As the participant talked about past experiences, the researcher asked:

  • What was treatment like 30 years ago?
  • Umm—well it was pretty much they could do what they wanted with you because I was put into the er, the er kind of system er, I was just on
  • endless section threes.
  • Really…
  • But what I didn’t realize until later was that if you haven’t actually posed a threat to someone or yourself they can’t really do that but I didn’t know
  • that. So wh-when I first went into hospital they put me on the forensic ward ’cause they said, “We don’t think you’ll stay here we think you’ll just
  • run-run away.” So they put me then onto the acute admissions ward and – er – I can remember one of the first things I recall when I got onto that
  • ward was sitting down with a er a Dr XXX. He had a book this thick [gestures] and on each page it was like three questions and he went through
  • all these questions and I answered all these questions. So we’re there for I don’t maybe two hours doing all that and he asked me he said “well
  • when did somebody tell you then that you have schizophrenia” I said “well nobody’s told me that” so he seemed very surprised but nobody had
  • actually [pause] whe-when I first went up there under police escort erm the senior kind of consultants people I’d been to where I was staying and
  • ermm so er [pause] I . . . the, I can remember the very first night that I was there and given this injection in this muscle here [gestures] and just
  • having dreadful side effects the next day I woke up [pause]
  • . . . and I suffered that akathesia I swear to you, every minute of every day for about 20 years.
  • Oh how awful.
  • And that side of it just makes life impossible so the care on the wards [pause] umm I don’t know it’s kind of, it’s kind of hard to put into words
  • [pause]. Because I’m not saying they were sort of like not friendly or interested but then nobody ever seemed to want to talk about your life [pause]
  • nobody asked me any questions about my life. The only questions that came into was they asked me if I’d be a volunteer for these student exams
  • and things and I said “yeah” so all the questions were like “oh what jobs have you done,” er about your relationships and things and er but
  • nobody actually sat down and had a talk and showed some interest in you as a person you were just there basically [pause] um labelled and you
  • know there was there was [pause] but umm [pause] yeah . . .

This article is the 10th in the CJHP Research Primer Series, an initiative of the CJHP Editorial Board and the CSHP Research Committee. The planned 2-year series is intended to appeal to relatively inexperienced researchers, with the goal of building research capacity among practising pharmacists. The articles, presenting simple but rigorous guidance to encourage and support novice researchers, are being solicited from authors with appropriate expertise.

Previous articles in this series:

Bond CM. The research jigsaw: how to get started. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(1):28–30.

Tully MP. Research: articulating questions, generating hypotheses, and choosing study designs. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(1):31–4.

Loewen P. Ethical issues in pharmacy practice research: an introductory guide. Can J Hosp Pharm. 2014;67(2):133–7.

Tsuyuki RT. Designing pharmacy practice research trials. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(3):226–9.

Bresee LC. An introduction to developing surveys for pharmacy practice research. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(4):286–91.

Gamble JM. An introduction to the fundamentals of cohort and case–control studies. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(5):366–72.

Austin Z, Sutton J. Qualitative research: getting started. C an J Hosp Pharm . 2014;67(6):436–40.

Houle S. An introduction to the fundamentals of randomized controlled trials in pharmacy research. Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014; 68(1):28–32.

Charrois TL. Systematic reviews: What do you need to know to get started? Can J Hosp Pharm . 2014;68(2):144–8.

Competing interests: None declared.

Further Reading

Examples of qualitative research in pharmacy practice.

  • Farrell B, Pottie K, Woodend K, Yao V, Dolovich L, Kennie N, et al. Shifts in expectations: evaluating physicians’ perceptions as pharmacists integrated into family practice. J Interprof Care. 2010; 24 (1):80–9. [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Gregory P, Austin Z. Postgraduation employment experiences of new pharmacists in Ontario in 2012–2013. Can Pharm J. 2014; 147 (5):290–9. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Marks PZ, Jennnings B, Farrell B, Kennie-Kaulbach N, Jorgenson D, Pearson-Sharpe J, et al. “I gained a skill and a change in attitude”: a case study describing how an online continuing professional education course for pharmacists supported achievement of its transfer to practice outcomes. Can J Univ Contin Educ. 2014; 40 (2):1–18. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Nair KM, Dolovich L, Brazil K, Raina P. It’s all about relationships: a qualitative study of health researchers’ perspectives on interdisciplinary research. BMC Health Serv Res. 2008; 8 :110. [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]
  • Pojskic N, MacKeigan L, Boon H, Austin Z. Initial perceptions of key stakeholders in Ontario regarding independent prescriptive authority for pharmacists. Res Soc Adm Pharm. 2014; 10 (2):341–54. [ PubMed ] [ Google Scholar ]

Qualitative Research in General

  • Breakwell GM, Hammond S, Fife-Schaw C. Research methods in psychology. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 1995. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Given LM. 100 questions (and answers) about qualitative research. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 2015. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Miles B, Huberman AM. Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 2009. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Patton M. Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 2002. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Willig C. Introducing qualitative research in psychology. Buckingham (UK): Open University Press; 2001. [ Google Scholar ]

Group Dynamics in Focus Groups

  • Farnsworth J, Boon B. Analysing group dynamics within the focus group. Qual Res. 2010; 10 (5):605–24. [ Google Scholar ]

Social Constructivism

  • Social constructivism. Berkeley (CA): University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley Graduate Division, Graduate Student Instruction Teaching & Resource Center; [cited 2015 June 4]. Available from: [ Google Scholar ]

Mixed Methods

  • Creswell J. Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 2009. [ Google Scholar ]

Collecting Qualitative Data

  • Arksey H, Knight P. Interviewing for social scientists: an introductory resource with examples. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 1999. [ Google Scholar ]
  • Guest G, Namey EE, Mitchel ML. Collecting qualitative data: a field manual for applied research. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 2013. [ Google Scholar ]

Constructivist Grounded Theory

  • Charmaz K. Grounded theory: objectivist and constructivist methods. In: Denzin N, Lincoln Y, editors. Handbook of qualitative research. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks (CA): Sage Publications; 2000. pp. 509–35. [ Google Scholar ]
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Research Methods

Chapter 7: presenting your results.

This chapter serves as the culmination of the previous chapters, in that it focuses on how to present the results of one's study, regardless of the choice made among the three methods. Writing in academics has a form and style that you will want to apply not only to report your own research, but also to enhance your skills at reading original research published in academic journals. Beyond the basic academic style of report writing, there are specific, often unwritten assumptions about how quantitative, qualitative, and critical/rhetorical studies should be organized and the information they should contain. This chapter discusses how to present your results in writing, how to write accessibly, how to visualize data, and how to present your results in person.

Written Presentation of Results

Once you've gone through the process of doing communication research – using a quantitative, qualitative, or critical/rhetorical methodological approach – the final step is to  communicate  it.

The major style manuals (the APA Manual, the MLA Handbook, and Turabian) are very helpful in documenting the structure of writing a study, and are highly recommended for consultation. But, no matter what style manual you may use, there are some common elements to the structure of an academic communication research paper.

Title Page :

This is simple: Your Paper's Title, Your Name, Your Institutional Affiliation (e.g., University), and the Date, each on separate lines, centered on the page. Try to make your title both descriptive (i.e., it gives the reader an idea what the study is about) and interesting (i.e., it is catchy enough to get one's attention).

For example, the title, "The uncritical idealization of a compensated psychopath character in a popular book series," would not be an inaccurate title for a published study, but it is rather vague and exceedingly boring. That study's author fortunately chose the title, "A boyfriend to die for: Edward Cullen as compensated psychopath in Stephanie Meyer's  Twilight ," which is more precisely descriptive, and much more interesting (Merskin, 2011). The use of the colon in academic titles can help authors accomplish both objectives: a catchy but relevant phrase, followed by a more clear explanation of the article's topic.

In some instances, you might be asked to write an abstract, which is a summary of your paper that can range in length from 75 to 250 words. If it is a published paper, it is useful to include key search terms in this brief description of the paper (the title may already have a few of these terms as well). Although this may be the last thing your write, make it one of the best things you write, because this may be the first thing your audience reads about the paper (and may be the only thing read if it is written badly). Summarize the problem/research question, your methodological approach, your results and conclusions, and the significance of the paper in the abstract.

Quantitative and qualitative studies will most typically use the rest of the section titles noted below. Critical/rhetorical studies will include many of the same steps, but will often have different headings. For example, a critical/rhetorical paper will have an introduction, definition of terms, and literature review, followed by an analysis (often divided into sections by areas of investigation) and ending with a conclusion/implications section. Because critical/rhetorical research is much more descriptive, the subheadings in such a paper are often times not generic subheads like "literature review," but instead descriptive subheadings that apply to the topic at hand, as seen in the schematic below. Because many journals expect the article to follow typical research paper headings of introduction, literature review, methods, results, and discussion, we discuss these sections briefly next.

Section Titles


As you read social scientific journals (see chapter 1 for examples), you will find that they tend to get into the research question quickly and succinctly. Journal articles from the humanities tradition tend to be more descriptive in the introduction. But, in either case, it is good to begin with some kind of brief anecdote that gets the reader engaged in your work and lets the reader understand why this is an interesting topic. From that point, state your research question, define the problem (see Chapter One) with an overview of what we do and don't know, and finally state what you will do, or what you want to find out. The introduction thus builds the case for your topic, and is the beginning of building your argument, as we noted in chapter 1.

By the end of the Introduction, the reader should know what your topic is, why it is a significant communication topic, and why it is necessary that you investigate it (e.g., it could be there is gap in literature, you will conduct valuable exploratory research, or you will provide a new model for solving some professional or social problem).

Literature Review:

The literature review summarizes and organizes the relevant books, articles, and other research in this area. It sets up both quantitative and qualitative studies, showing the need for the study. For critical/rhetorical research, the literature review often incorporates the description of the historical context and heuristic vocabulary, with key terms defined in this section of the paper. For more detail on writing a literature review, see Appendix 1.

The methods of your paper are the processes that govern your research, where the researcher explains what s/he did to solve the problem. As you have seen throughout this book, in communication studies, there are a number of different types of research methods. For example, in quantitative research, one might conduct surveys, experiments, or content analysis. In qualitative research, one might instead use interviews and observations. Critical/rhetorical studies methods are more about the interpretation of texts or the study of popular culture as communication. In creative communication research, the method may be an interpretive performance studies or filmmaking. Other methods used sometimes alone, or in combination with other methods, include legal research, historical research, and political economy research.

In quantitative and qualitative research papers, the methods will be most likely described according to the APA manual standards. At the very least, the methods will include a description of participants, data collection, and data analysis, with specific details on each of these elements. For example, in an experiment, the researcher will describe the number of participants, the materials used, the design of the experiment, the procedure of the experiment, and what statistics will be used to address the hypotheses/research questions.

Critical/rhetorical researchers rarely have a specific section called "methods," as opposed to quantitative and qualitative researchers, but rather demonstrate the method they use for analysis throughout the writing of their piece.

Helping your reader understand the methods you used for your study is important not only for your own study's credibility, but also for possible replication of your study by other researchers. A good guideline to keep in mind is  transparency . You want to be as clear as possible in describing the decisions you made in designing your study, gathering and analyzing your data so that the reader can retrace your steps and understand how you came to the conclusions you formed. A research study can be very good, but if it is not clearly described so that others can see how the results were determined or obtained, then the quality of the study and its potential contributions are lost.

After you completed your study, your findings will be listed in the results section. Particularly in a quantitative study, the results section is for revisiting your hypotheses and reporting whether or not your results supported them, and the statistical significance of the results. Whether your study supported or contradicted your hypotheses, it's always helpful to fully report what your results were. The researcher usually organizes the results of his/her results section by research question or hypothesis, stating the results for each one, using statistics to show how the research question or hypothesis was answered in the study.

The qualitative results section also may be organized by research question, but usually is organized by themes which emerged from the data collected. The researcher provides rich details from her/his observations and interviews, with detailed quotations provided to illustrate the themes identified. Sometimes the results section is combined with the discussion section.

Critical/rhetorical researchers would include their analysis often with different subheadings in what would be considered a "results" section, yet not labeled specifically this way.


In the discussion section, the researcher gives an appraisal of the results. Here is where the researcher considers the results, particularly in light of the literature review, and explains what the findings mean. If the results confirmed or corresponded with the findings of other literature, then that should be stated. If the results didn't support the findings of previous studies, then the researcher should develop an explanation of why the study turned out this way. Sometimes, this section is called a "conclusion" by researchers.


In this section, all of the literature cited in the text should have full references in alphabetical order. Appendices: Appendix material includes items like questionnaires used in the study, photographs, documents, etc. An alphabetical letter is assigned for each piece (e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B), with a second line of title describing what the appendix contains (e.g. Participant Informed Consent, or  New York Times  Speech Coverage). They should be organized consistently with the order in which they are referenced in the text of the paper. The page numbers for appendices are consecutive with the paper and reference list.


Tables and figures are referenced in the text, but included at the end of the study and numbered consecutively. (Check with your professor; some like to have tables and figures inserted within the paper's main text.) Tables generally are data in a table format, whereas figures are diagrams (such as a pie chart) and drawings (such as a flow chart).

Accessible Writing

As you may have noticed, academic writing does have a language (e.g., words like heuristic vocabulary and hypotheses) and style (e.g., literature reviews) all its own. It is important to engage in that language and style, and understand how to use it to  communicate effectively in an academic context . Yet, it is also important to remember that your analyses and findings should also be written to be accessible. Writers should avoid excessive jargon, or—even worse—deploying jargon to mask an incomplete understanding of a topic.

The scourge of excessive jargon in academic writing was the target of a famous hoax in 1996. A New York University physics professor submitted an article, " Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity ," to a special issue of the academic journal  Social Text  devoted to science and postmodernism. The article was designed to point out how dense academic jargon can sometimes mask sloppy thinking. As the professor, Alan Sokal, had expected, the article was published. One sample sentence from the article reads:

It has thus become increasingly apparent that physical "reality", no less than social "reality", is at bottom a social and linguistic construct; that scientific "knowledge", far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it; that the truth claims of science are inherently theory-laden and self-referential; and consequently, that the discourse of the scientific community, for all its undeniable value, cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities. (Sokal, 1996. pp. 217-218)

According to the journal's editor, about six reviewers had read the article but didn't suspect that it was phony. A public debate ensued after Sokal revealed his hoax. Sokal said he worried that jargon and intellectual fads cause academics to lose contact with the real world and "undermine the prospect for progressive social critique" ( Scott, 1996 ). The APA Manual recommends to avoid using technical vocabulary where it is not needed or relevant or if the technical language is overused, thus becoming jargon. In short, the APA argues that "scientific jargon...grates on the reader, encumbers the communication of information, and wastes space" (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 68).

Data Visualization

Images and words have long existed on the printed page of manuscripts, yet, until recently, relatively few researchers possessed the resources to effectively combine images combined with words (Tufte, 1990, 1983). Communication scholars are only now becoming aware of this dimension in research as computer technologies have made it possible for many people to produce and publish multimedia presentations.

Although visuals may seem to be anathema to the primacy of the written word in research, they are a legitimate way, and at times the best way, to present ideas. Visual scholar Lester Faigley et al. (2004) explains how data visualizations have become part of our daily lives:

Visualizations can shed light on research as well. London-based David McCandless specializes in visualizing interesting research questions, or in his words "the questions I wanted answering" (2009, p. 7). His images include a graph of the  peak times of the year for breakups  (based on Facebook status updates), a  radiation dosage chart , and some  experiments with the Google Ngram Viewer , which charts the appearance of keywords in millions of books over hundreds of years.

The  public domain image  below creatively maps U.S. Census data of the outflow of people from California to other states between 1995 and 2000.

 Out-migration from California

Data visualization: The out-migration from California to other states, 1995-2000

Visualizing one's research is possible in multiple ways. A simple technology, for example, is to enter data into a spreadsheet such as Excel, and select  Charts  or  SmartArt  to generate graphics. A number of free web tools can also transform raw data into useful charts and graphs.  Many Eyes , an open source data visualization tool (sponsored by IBM Research), says its goal "is to 'democratize' visualization and to enable a new social kind of data analysis" (IBM, 2011). Another tool,  Soundslides , enables users to import images and audio to create a photographic slideshow, while the program handles all of the background code. Other tools, often open source and free, can help visual academic research into interactive maps; interactive, image-based timelines; interactive charts; and simple 2-D and 3-D animations. Adobe Creative Suite (which includes popular software like Photoshop) is available on most computers at universities, but open source alternatives exist as well.  Gimp  is comparable to Photoshop, and it is free and relatively easy to use.

One online performance studies journal,  Liminalities , is an excellent example of how "research" can be more than just printed words. In each issue, traditional academic essays and book reviews are often supported photographs, while other parts of an issue can include video, audio, and multimedia contributions. The journal, founded in 2005, treats performance itself as a methodology, and accepts contribution in html, mp3, Quicktime, and Flash formats.

For communication researchers, there is also a vast array of visual digital archives available online. Many of these archives are located at colleges and universities around the world, where digital librarians are spearheading a massive effort to make information—print, audio, visual, and graphic—available to the public as part of a global information commons. For example, the University of Iowa has a considerable digital archive including historical photos documenting American railroads and a database of images related to geoscience. The University of Northern Iowa has a growing Special Collections Unit that includes digital images of every UNI Yearbook between 1905 and 1923 and audio files of UNI jazz band performances. Researchers at he University of Michigan developed  OAIster , a rich database that has joined thousands of digital archives in one searchable interface. Indeed, virtually every academic library is now digitizing all types of media, not just texts, and making them available for public viewing and, when possible, for use in presenting research. In addition to academic collections, the  Library of Congress  and the  National Archives  offer an ever-expanding range of downloadable media; commercial, user-generated databases such as Flickr, Buzznet, YouTube and Google Video offer a rich resource of images that are often free of copyright constraints (see Chapter 3 about Creative Commons licenses) and nonprofit endeavors, such as the  Internet Archive , contain a formidable collection of moving images, still photographs, audio files (including concert recordings), and open source software.

Presenting your Work in Person

As Communication students, it's expected that you are not only able to communicate your research project in written form but also in person.

Before you do any oral presentation, it's good to have a brief "pitch" ready for anyone who asks you about your research. The pitch is routine in Hollywood: a screenwriter has just a few minutes to present an idea to a producer. Although your pitch will be more sophisticated than, say, " Snakes on a Plane " (which unfortunately was made into a movie), you should in just a few lines be able to explain the gist of your research to anyone who asks. Developing this concise description, you will have some practice in distilling what might be a complicated topic into one others can quickly grasp.

Oral presentation

In most oral presentations of research, whether at the end of a semester, or at a research symposium or conference, you will likely have just 10 to 20 minutes. This is probably not enough time to read the entire paper aloud, which is not what you should do anyway if you want people to really listen (although, unfortunately some make this mistake). Instead, the point of the presentation should be to present your research in an interesting manner so the listeners will want to read the whole thing. In the presentation, spend the least amount of time on the literature review (a very brief summary will suffice) and the most on your own original contribution. In fact, you may tell your audience that you are only presenting on one portion of the paper, and that you would be happy to talk more about your research and findings in the question and answer session that typically follows. Consider your presentation the beginning of a dialogue between you and the audience. Your tone shouldn't be "I have found everything important there is to find, and I will cram as much as I can into this presentation," but instead "I found some things you will find interesting, but I realize there is more to find."

Turabian (2007) has a helpful chapter on presenting research. Most important, she emphasizes, is to remember that your audience members are listeners, not readers. Thus, recall the lessons on speech making in your college oral communication class. Give an introduction, tell them what the problem is, and map out what you will present to them. Organize your findings into a few points, and don't get bogged down in minutiae. (The minutiae are for readers to find if they wish, not for listeners to struggle through.) PowerPoint slides are acceptable, but don't read them. Instead, create an outline of a few main points, and practice your presentation.

Turabian  suggests an introduction of not more than three minutes, which should include these elements:

  • The research topic you will address (not more than a minute).
  • Your research question (30 seconds or less)
  • An answer to "so what?" – explaining the relevance of your research (30 seconds)
  • Your claim, or argument (30 seconds or less)
  • The map of your presentation structure (30 seconds or less)

As Turabian (2007) suggests, "Rehearse your introduction, not only to get it right, but to be able to look your audience in the eye as you give it. You can look down at notes later" (p. 125).

Poster presentation

In some symposiums and conferences, you may be asked to present at a "poster" session. Instead of presenting on a panel of 4-5 people to an audience, a poster presenter is with others in a large hall or room, and talks one-on-one with visitors who look at the visual poster display of the research. As in an oral presentation, a poster highlights just the main point of the paper. Then, if visitors have questions, the author can informally discuss her/his findings.

To attract attention, poster presentations need to be nicely designed, or in the words of an advertising professor who schedules poster sessions at conferences, "be big, bold, and brief" ( Broyles , 2011). Large type (at least 18 pt.), graphics, tables, and photos are recommended.

Poster Presentation

A poster presentation session at a conference, by David Eppstein (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( )], via Wikimedia Commons]

The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) has a  template for making an effective poster presentation . Many universities, copy shops, and Internet services also have large-scale printers, to print full-color research poster designs that can be rolled up and transported in a tube.

Judging Others' Research

After taking this course, you should have a basic knowledge of research methods. There will still be some things that may mystify you as a reader of other's research. For example, you may not be able to interpret the coefficients for statistical significance, or make sense of a complex structural equation. Some specialized vocabulary may still be difficult.

But, you should understand how to critically review research. For example, imagine you have been asked to do a blind (i.e., the author's identity is concealed) "peer review" of communication research for acceptance to a conference, or publication in an academic journal. For most  conferences  and  journals , submissions are made online, where editors can manage the flow and assign reviews to papers. The evaluations reviewers make are based on the same things that we have covered in this book. For example, the conference for the AEJMC ask reviewers to consider (on a five-point scale, from Excellent to Poor) a number of familiar research dimensions, including the paper's clarity of purpose, literature review, clarity of research method, appropriateness of research method, evidence presented clearly, evidence supportive of conclusions, general writing and organization, and the significance of the contribution to the field.

Beyond academia, it is likely you will more frequently apply the lessons of research methods as a critical consumer of news, politics, and everyday life. Just because some expert cites a number or presents a conclusion doesn't mean it's automatically true. John Allen Paulos, in his book  A Mathematician reads the newspaper , suggests some basic questions we can ask. "If statistics were presented, how were they obtained? How confident can we be of them? Were they derived from a random sample or from a collection of anecdotes? Does the correlation suggest a causal relationship, or is it merely a coincidence?" (1997, p. 201).

Through the study of research methods, we have begun to build a critical vocabulary and understanding to ask good questions when others present "knowledge." For example, if Candidate X won a straw poll in Iowa, does that mean she'll get her party's nomination? If Candidate Y wins an open primary in New Hampshire, does that mean he'll be the next president? If Candidate Z sheds a tear, does it matter what the context is, or whether that candidate is a man or a woman? What we learn in research methods about validity, reliability, sampling, variables, research participants, epistemology, grounded theory, and rhetoric, we can consider whether the "knowledge" that is presented in the news is a verifiable fact, a sound argument, or just conjecture.

American Psychological Association (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Broyles, S. (2011). "About poster sessions." AEJMC. .

Faigley, L., George, D., Palchik, A., Selfe, C. (2004).  Picturing texts . New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

IBM (2011). Overview of Many Eyes. .

McCandless, D. (2009).  The visual miscellaneum . New York: Collins Design.

Merskin, D. (2011). A boyfriend to die for: Edward Cullen as compensated psychopath in Stephanie Meyer's  Twilight. Journal of Communication Inquiry  35: 157-178. doi:10.1177/0196859911402992

Paulos, J. A. (1997).  A mathematician reads the newspaper . New York: Anchor.

Scott, J. (1996, May 18). Postmodern gravity deconstructed, slyly.  New York Times , .

Sokal, A. (1996). Transgressing the boundaries: towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity.  Social Text  46/47, 217-252.

Tufte, E. R. (1990).  Envisioning information . Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.

Tufte, E. R. (1983).  The visual display of quantitative information . Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.

Turabian, Kate L. (2007).  A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations: Chicago style guide for students and researchers  (7th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Research Paper Guide

Qualitative Research Method

Nova A.

Qualitative Research - Methods, Types, and Examples

16 min read

Published on: Dec 25, 2017

Last updated on: Nov 22, 2023

Qualitative research

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There are various methods for conducting scientific research. The two broad approaches to data collection include qualitative and quantitative research methods. 

However, it is not easy to decide which one to choose while writing a research paper .

If you know the basic difference between both methods, you will produce a well-written and structured paper. 

In this blog, we have explored what is qualitative research, its nature, purpose, and methods of data collection. By reading this, students can gain a good understanding of qualitative research, enhancing their ability to conduct in-depth studies. 

So keep reading!

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What is Qualitative Research - Definition

Qualitative research is a research methodology that aims to explore and understand the complexities of human behavior, emotions, and experiences through non-numerical data.

Unlike quantitative research, which deals in numbers and statistics, qualitative research is all about revealing the stories, and perspectives that make us uniquely human.

Let's dive deeper and discover why it's a powerful tool in the researcher's arsenal.

Purpose of Qualitative Research Design

Qualitative research simplifies the understanding of complex human behavior and experiences. Its purpose is to:

  • Explore Complex Phenomena: Qualitative research allows us to delve deep into intricate human experiences and behaviors.
  • Understand Motivations: It helps uncover the 'whys' behind actions, shedding light on underlying motivations.
  • Capture Richness: By collecting narratives and stories, qualitative research captures the richness of human life.
  • Generate Hypotheses: It often serves as a foundation for hypothesis generation in further quantitative studies.
  • Inform Decision-Making: Qualitative findings guide decisions in fields like psychology, sociology, and market research.
  • Contextualize Quantitative Data: It provides context to quantitative data, explaining the 'how' and 'why' behind the numbers.

Characteristics of Qualitative Research

The following are the main characteristics of qualitative research.

  • The real-world setting is the first important characteristic. It involves various qualitative research methods to study the behavior of participants.
  • Researchers play an essential role in choosing a method and making a plan for conducting research.
  • All qualitative approaches have their significance and are used for different scenarios.
  • Qualitative research questions are beneficial for complex reasoning to get the right results.
  • It is also used to explain the outcome of quantitative research methods.
  • The role of participants is essential as it brings meaning to the study.
  • Qualitative research is flexible and can be changed at any stage of the research work.
  • It also describes the research problem by developing a complex cause-and-effect relationship between the variables. 
  • Data analysis in qualitative research is an ongoing process.
  • Conclusions can be drawn based on the outcomes of the research process.
  • Participants are selected from a particular and relevant group.

Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative research methods -

A detailed description of the major qualitative approaches to collecting data is given below.

In-depth Interview

In-depth interviews involve one-on-one conversations to gather detailed information about a specific topic. This method allows researchers to explore participants' motivations, inspirations, and body language.

Interviews can be conducted face-to-face, via email, or over the phone for flexibility.

Focus Groups

Focus groups consist of small group discussions (5-15 participants) on specific topics, ideal for 'what,' 'why,' and 'how' questions about society and the environment. They can be conducted in-person or online, offering versatility in data collection.

Direct Observation

Direct observation collects subjective data through the five senses without interference. It focuses on characteristics, not measurements, often in public settings where privacy isn't a concern.

Open-Ended Surveys

Open-ended surveys use structured or unstructured questions to collect information on respondents' opinions and beliefs, providing insights into their perspectives.

Participant Observation

Participant observation involves researchers actively participating in events while observing people in natural settings, offering firsthand experience and insights.

Literature Review

The literature review method interprets words and images from published works to analyze social life. It examines word usage in context to draw inferences and identify meanings.

Types of Qualitative Research

Types of Qualitative Research -

The following is a comprehensive overview of the types of qualitative research methods.

The case study research method has now become the most valuable method of conducting research. It has evolved in recent years and is used to explain an entity in detail.

Moreover, it also involves a thorough understanding of different types of data sources. These include interviews, documents, reports, and observations.  Mainly, this research type is used in different areas like education, social sciences, etc.

Ethnographic Research

The ethnographic research method is the most familiar and in-depth observational method. It focuses on people and their behaviors in the natural environment.

Here, a researcher needs to adapt to the environment and society of the target audience to conduct better research. It helps to get a first-hand experience of the natural setting, including the customs, traditions, and culture of the subjects.

This type of research is a challenging and time-consuming process as it can last from days to years. However, geographical constraints can be an issue while collecting data.

Grounded Theory

While other methods discuss and focus on an event or activity. The grounded theory method deeply looks into the explanation and the main theory behind the event.

It requires the researcher to observe the interviews and documents to build a theory. Moreover, it usually starts with a question or collection of data.  However, the sample sizes in this method are usually larger than in other methods. 

Phenomenological Method

This type is used in the description of an event, phenomenon, and activity. Here, methods like interviews, reading documents, visiting places, and watching videos are used.

This will help to add new insights to the existing data analysis by checking its reliability and validity.

Check out the video to learn more about the phenomenological method of qualitative research!

Narrative Method 

The narrative method is used to gather data from subjects through interviews or documents. Later, the gathered information is used to derive answers and suggestions for future research. 

Historical Method

The historical method involves the examination of past events to draw conclusions and predictions about the future. The steps included in the method are formulating a plan, gathering data, and analyzing the sources. 

Steps in Conducting Qualitative Research

Conducting qualitative research is a systematic process that involves several key steps to ensure the collection of meaningful data.

Here's a chronological guide to conducting qualitative research:

Step 1: Define Research Objectives

Begin by clearly defining the research objectives and questions. What do you want to learn, explore, or understand through your qualitative research? This step sets the direction for your study.

Step 2: Select a Research Design

Choose an appropriate research design based on your objectives. Common designs include case studies, ethnography, grounded theory, or phenomenology. The design informs your data collection and analysis methods.

Step 3: Sampling Methods

Decide on your sampling strategy. Will you use purposive sampling to select specific participants who are most relevant to your research question? Or will you employ snowball sampling to find participants through referrals?

Step 4: Data Collection Techniques

Determine the data collection techniques that align with your research design. Depending on your approach, this may involve conducting in-depth interviews, facilitating focus groups, observing participants, or analyzing existing documents and content.

Step 5: Plan Interviews and Questions

If conducting interviews, create interview guides with open-ended questions. These questions should allow participants to share their thoughts, experiences, and perspectives freely. Ensure that questions are related to your research objectives.

Step 6: Conducting Data Collection

Collect data according to your chosen methods. For interviews, arrange and conduct interviews with participants, ensuring a comfortable and open environment. If using other techniques, follow the procedures outlined in your research design.

Step 7: Data Recording and Management

Record data meticulously. This may involve audio or video recordings, note-taking, or transcribing interviews. Organize and store data securely to maintain confidentiality.

Step 8: Data Analysis

Qualitative data can be in the form of interviews, transcripts, surveys, videos, audio, etc. The steps involved in qualitative data analysis are given below.   

  • Organize the Data: This can be done by transcribing interviews or making detailed notes.
  • Review the Data: Examine the data, ideas, and patterns.
  • Establish a Data Coding System: Generate a set of codes that you can apply to classify your data.
  • Assign Codes to the Data: For qualitative survey analysis, create codes, and add them to your system.
  • Identify Themes: Link the codes together into cohesive themes.

Similarly, the following are different approaches to analyzing qualitative data. 

  • Content Analysis – It is used to categorize common words and ideas.
  • Thematic Analysis – thematic analysis in qualitative research is used to identify and interpret different themes and patterns.
  • Textual Analysis – This type of analysis is used to examine the structure, content, and design of text.
  • Discourse Analysis – It is used to study how a language is used to achieve specific results.

Step 9: Validity and Reliability

Ensure the validity and reliability of your findings. Consistently apply your chosen analysis methods and cross-check interpretations with colleagues or participants to validate your results.

Step 10: Ethical Considerations

Throughout the research process, uphold ethical principles. Protect the privacy and anonymity of participants, obtain informed consent, and address any ethical concerns that may arise.

Qualitative Research vs Quantitative Research

Qualitative and quantitative research are two distinct approaches to conducting research. Here are the main differences between qualitative vs. quantitative research.

Looking for a more detailed comparison between these 2 types of research? Check out our qualitative vs. quantitative research blog.

Qualitative Research Topics

To write an amazing qualitative research paper, here are some interesting topics for you.

  • The Impact of Parental Involvement on Children's Education
  • Social Isolation and Loneliness Among the Elderly
  • Factors Influencing Consumer Choices in Sustainable Fashion
  • Coping Mechanisms for Stress Among College Students
  • Experiences of Immigrant Workers in Low-Wage Jobs
  • The Role of Music in Expressing Emotions and Well-being
  • Perceptions of Mental Health Stigma in Ethnic Communities
  • Exploring the Transition to Parenthood: Challenges and Joys
  • How Cultural Differences Influence Conflict Resolution Styles
  • The Influence of Family Dynamics on Eating Habits and Nutrition in Children

We have also compiled a list of research paper topics in case you need more unique ideas.

Qualitative Research Examples

Check out the examples of qualitative research to get a better idea of writing a qualitative research study.

Qualitative Research Example

Qualitative Research Paper Sample

Qualitative Research Limitations

The following discussed are the qualitative research limitations. 

  • The qualitative research data involve fewer expenses and time. 
  • It does not have large-scale data.
  • It requires a lot of time to manage, gather, and analyze data.
  • It is not possible to verify the results as it is open-ended research. 
  • It is difficult to analyze the credibility and validity of data because of its subjective nature.
  • Expert knowledge of the area is necessary to understand the collected information.

In Conclusion, the qualitative research method shows the idea and perception of your targeted audience. However, not every student is able to choose the right approach while writing a research paper. It requires a thorough understanding of both qualitative research and quantitative research methods.

This is where the professional help from comes in. We are a legit paper writing service that provides reliable help with your academic assignments. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the two methods in research study.

There are two types of studies that involve observing people during a study, participant observation and non-participant observation. 

Why is qualitative research better?

Because qualitative research includes the ability to gain unique insights through deep exploration. Survey respondents are able to disclose their experiences, thoughts, and feelings without constraint or influence from an outside source. 

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Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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Qualitative Research Topics

College goers are well aware of all the hardships they have to go through to complete an array of assignments that just keep on coming. One of the best ways to cope with all the overwhelming pressure is to invest some time and effort in understanding the process of doing your research and preparing for your assignment.

This allows you to reap the benefits of finding a variety of suitable qualitative research topic ideas that can make things easier and more meaningful. Research is one of the vital aspects of completing an assignment in college.

Qualitative Research Topics

Suppose you need help with research paper . In that case, we will explain what qualitative research is, give you some tips on how to choose a nice topic for your paper, and share our comprehensive qualitative research topics list.

What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research refers to the intuitive and creative analysis of intangible information you can use for writing a top-class college paper. Due to interacting with the data before and after the collection, having the best qualitative research topics is paramount to writing a research assignment that stands above the rest.

These topics can involve gathering key data from the most relevant sources to your assignment topics and are fundamental to your effort to collect first-hand information. Some of the major fields where qualitative research is performed include:

  • Anthropology
  • Political science
  • Business management
  • Social science

The main goal of qualitative research is to help you understand the topic of your assignment by identifying the most important aspects of your topic and gathering enough information to provide an in-depth analysis of the topic at hand and provide the answers to all the related questions. This type of research aims to identify and understand the general lifestyle, issues, and problems to provide solutions to a global problem. Since doing all the research on your own can turn out to be quite daunting, you can always resort to hiring an affordable research paper writing service to get professional assistance.

Tips on how to choose good qualitative research topics

Writing a research paper or a college assignment with success solely depends on your ability to choose suitable qualitative research topics. It’s essential to carefully examine and explore the field with all the challenges before you start writing to identify the key factors and aspects of your assignment. Here are a few tips on how to do that to get good research paper ideas .

Align your research topic with your field of interest

Your assignment topic should be something that interests you deeply so that you can completely get into it and make the most out of your efforts. More importantly, your topic should allow you to develop your personal skills and learn new things.

Make sure you have all the right research on the topic

If you choose a topic that has little to no supporting research available, you’ll end up getting stuck. You must properly research the topic before you start writing. This research will also help you shortlist unrelated topics and narrow down your scope so that you can focus on the information that matches your exact needs.

Follow your university guidelines!

Consulting with your professors and going through the assessment guidelines is paramount to writing a top-class paper. Follow your university guidelines to make sure your efforts get approved by your supervisor.

List of qualitative research topics examples

  • Long-term planning methods for better project management
  • How to deal with issues during a project implementation program
  • The best practices for dealing with tight project deadlines
  • Why time management is essential for goal setting
  • Flexibility in management: How to improve decision-making as a manager
  • Top professional techniques for developing management skills
  • Healthcare in low-income societies: How to achieve affordable medical care
  • Dealing with a loss and the process of recovery
  • How to make eco-friendly facemasks
  • Preventing flu during cold seasons: The most effective preventative methods
  • The importance of developing community-based sanitization programs
  • The best practices for quitting alcohol and cigarettes
  • Helping the young manage their obesity: The most effective obesity management strategies
  • Promoting healthcare during COVID-19: Strategies for expanding the health sector
  • Guide to collecting resources for building a centralized community
  • How academic and social practices can help uplift a society
  • Professional practices for building a one-on-one relationship between teachers and students
  • The science behind consumer motivations and appraisals
  • Reshaping the traditional form of virtual ethnography
  • Are homeschooling programs as efficient as they should be?
  • The importance of developing healthy eating habits
  • The best strategies for getting ahead of the prospective market
  • How to track the dynamics of real estate investments
  • How effective are modern newsgathering technologies?
  • Developing introvert behavior and its key effects
  • Can sharing help an individual overcome addictions?
  • Guide to creating a one-people community
  • The most effective methods for dealing with cyberbullying
  • The best way to bringing social equity to patriarchal societies
  • How quarantine prevents the spread of infectious diseases
  • The aging populations and the trends they follow
  • The latest digital media trends
  • Methods for mitigating communicable diseases
  • How governments work on protocol observance
  • Practices for preventing the spread of the coronavirus in crowded places
  • Alleviating pain during childbirth
  • Maternal healthcare in developing countries
  • Can pop music change erratic youth behavior?
  • The best therapies for recovering from brain surgery
  • How alcohol changes normal behavior
  • Depression management among school-going children
  • Strategies for avoiding a viral disease
  • Ways to influence the eating habits of children
  • How and when to engage in sporting activities
  • How low socioeconomic background impacts self-esteem
  • The importance of parenting for shaping children’s morals
  • The impact of poor market completion on supply and demand
  • Do children under four years need preschool education?
  • Single-gender schools vs. mixed schools
  • How the world would benefit from the same education system
  • How virtual reality helps reshape the world
  • The hottest destinations for traveling at the moment
  • How fast does the ozone layer deplete?
  • Is it possible to predict natural disasters before they occur?
  • The effects of digital marketing on modern businesses
  • Physical learning vs. online learning
  • How related are Windows and Apple products?
  • Study cases of bullying in schools
  • The effect of stress on human behavior
  • Patient behavior and the influence of social processes

If you’re looking for the best way to choose some of the most suitable qualitative research paper topics for your college assignment, these 60 topics should help you get ahead of your task and write an engaging paper. All topics above are for your personal education and motivation. If you still need help with your assignment, our professional paper writing services are available 24/7.

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  • Patient safety in remote primary care encounters: multimethod qualitative study combining Safety I and Safety II analysis
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  • Rebecca Payne 1 ,
  • Aileen Clarke 1 ,
  • Nadia Swann 1 ,
  • Jackie van Dael 1 ,
  • Natassia Brenman 1 ,
  • Rebecca Rosen 2 ,
  • Adam Mackridge 3 ,
  • Lucy Moore 1 ,
  • Asli Kalin 1 ,
  • Emma Ladds 1 ,
  • Nina Hemmings 2 ,
  • Sarah Rybczynska-Bunt 4 ,
  • Stuart Faulkner 1 ,
  • Isabel Hanson 1 ,
  • Sophie Spitters 5 ,
  • Sietse Wieringa 1 , 6 ,
  • Francesca H Dakin 1 ,
  • Sara E Shaw 1 ,
  • Joseph Wherton 1 ,
  • Richard Byng 4 ,
  • Laiba Husain 1 ,
  • Trisha Greenhalgh 1
  • 1 Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences , University of Oxford , Oxford , UK
  • 2 Nuffield Trust , London , UK
  • 3 Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board , Bangor , UK
  • 4 Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry , University of Plymouth , Plymouth , UK
  • 5 Wolfson Institute of Population Health , Queen Mary University of London , London , UK
  • 6 Sustainable Health Unit , University of Oslo , Oslo , Norway
  • Correspondence to Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX2 6GG, UK; trish.greenhalgh{at}

Background Triage and clinical consultations increasingly occur remotely. We aimed to learn why safety incidents occur in remote encounters and how to prevent them.

Setting and sample UK primary care. 95 safety incidents (complaints, settled indemnity claims and reports) involving remote interactions. Separately, 12 general practices followed 2021–2023.

Methods Multimethod qualitative study. We explored causes of real safety incidents retrospectively (‘Safety I’ analysis). In a prospective longitudinal study, we used interviews and ethnographic observation to produce individual, organisational and system-level explanations for why safety and near-miss incidents (rarely) occurred and why they did not occur more often (‘Safety II’ analysis). Data were analysed thematically. An interpretive synthesis of why safety incidents occur, and why they do not occur more often, was refined following member checking with safety experts and lived experience experts.

Results Safety incidents were characterised by inappropriate modality, poor rapport building, inadequate information gathering, limited clinical assessment, inappropriate pathway (eg, wrong algorithm) and inadequate attention to social circumstances. These resulted in missed, inaccurate or delayed diagnoses, underestimation of severity or urgency, delayed referral, incorrect or delayed treatment, poor safety netting and inadequate follow-up. Patients with complex pre-existing conditions, cardiac or abdominal emergencies, vague or generalised symptoms, safeguarding issues, failure to respond to previous treatment or difficulty communicating seemed especially vulnerable. General practices were facing resource constraints, understaffing and high demand. Triage and care pathways were complex, hard to navigate and involved multiple staff. In this context, patient safety often depended on individual staff taking initiative, speaking up or personalising solutions.

Conclusion While safety incidents are extremely rare in remote primary care, deaths and serious harms have resulted. We offer suggestions for patient, staff and system-level mitigations.

  • Primary care
  • Diagnostic errors
  • Safety culture
  • Qualitative research
  • Prehospital care

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Details of real safety incidents are not available for patient confidentiality reasons. Requests for data on other aspects of the study from other researchers will be considered.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: .

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Safety incidents are extremely rare in primary care but they do happen. Concerns have been raised about the safety of remote triage and remote consultations.


Rare safety incidents (involving death or serious harm) in remote encounters can be traced back to various clinical, communicative, technical and logistical causes. Telephone and video encounters in general practice are occurring in a high-risk (extremely busy and sometimes understaffed) context in which remote workflows may not be optimised. Front-line staff use creativity and judgement to help make care safer.


As remote modalities become mainstreamed in primary care, staff should be trained in the upstream causes of safety incidents and how they can be mitigated. The subtle and creative ways in which front-line staff already contribute to safety culture should be recognised and supported.


In early 2020, remote triage and remote consultations (together, ‘remote encounters’), in which the patient is in a different physical location from the clinician or support staff member, were rapidly expanded as a safety measure in many countries because they eliminated the risk of transmitting COVID-19. 1–4 But by mid-2021, remote encounters had begun to be depicted as potentially unsafe because they had come to be associated with stories of patient harm, including avoidable deaths and missed cancers. 5–8

Providing triage and clinical care remotely is sometimes depicted as a partial solution to the system pressures facing primary healthcare in many countries, 9–11 including rising levels of need or demand, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and workforce challenges (especially short-term or longer-term understaffing). In this context, remote encounters may be an important component of a mixed-modality health service when used appropriately alongside in-person contacts. 12 13 But this begs the question of what ‘appropriate’ and ‘safe’ use of remote modalities in a primary care context is. Safety incidents (defined as ‘any unintended or unexpected incident which could have, or did, lead to harm for one or more patients receiving healthcare 14 ’) are extremely rare in primary healthcare consultations generally, 15 16 in-hours general practice telephone triage 17 and out-of-hours primary care. 18 But the recent widespread expansion of remote triage and remote consulting in primary care means that a wider range of patients and conditions are managed remotely, making it imperative to re-examine where the risks lie.

Theoretical approaches to safety in healthcare fall broadly into two traditions. 19 ‘Safety I’ studies focus on what went wrong. Incident reports are analysed to identify ‘root causes’ and ‘safety gaps’, and recommendations are made to reduce the chance that further similar incidents will happen in the future. 20 Such studies, undertaken in isolation, tend to lead to a tightening of rules, procedures and protocols. ‘Safety II’ studies focus on why, most of the time, things do not go wrong. Ethnography and other qualitative methods are employed to study how humans respond creatively to unique and unforeseen situations, thereby preventing safety incidents most of the time. 19 Such studies tend to show that actions which achieve safety are highly context specific, may entail judiciously breaking the rules and require human qualities such as courage, initiative and adaptability. 21 Few previous studies have combined both approaches.

In this study, we aimed to use Safety I methods to learn why safety incidents occur (although rarely) in remote primary care encounters and also apply Safety II methods to examine the kinds of creative actions taken by front-line staff that contribute to a safety culture and thereby prevent such incidents.

Study design and origins

Multimethod qualitative study across UK, including incident analysis, longitudinal ethnography and national stakeholder interviews.

The idea for this safety study began during a longitudinal ethnographic study of 12 general practices across England, Scotland and Wales as they introduced (and, in some cases, subsequently withdrew) various remote and digital modalities. Practices were selected for maximum diversity in geographical location, population served and digital maturity and followed from mid-2021 to end 2023 using staff and patient interviews and in-person ethnographic visits. The study protocol, 22 baseline findings 23 and a training needs analysis 24 have been published. To provide context for our ethnography, we interviewed a sample of national stakeholders in remote and digital primary care, including out-of-hours providers running telephone-led services, and held four online multistakeholder workshops, one of which was on the theme of safety, for policymakers, clinicians, patients and other parties. Early data from this detailed qualitative work revealed staff and patient concerns about the safety of remote encounters but no actual examples of harm.

To explore the safety theme further, we decided to take a dual approach. First, following Safety I methodology for the study of rare harms, 20 we set out to identify and analyse a sample of safety incidents involving remote encounters. These were sourced from arm’s-length bodies (NHS England, NHS Resolution, Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch) and providers of healthcare at scale (health boards, integrated care systems and telephone advice services), since our own small sample had not identified any of these rare occurrences. Second, we extended our longitudinal ethnographic design to more explicitly incorporate Safety II methodology, 19 allowing us to examine safety culture and safety practices in our 12 participating general practices, especially the adaptive work done by staff to avert potential safety incidents.

Data sources and management

Table 1 summarises the data sources.

  • View inline

Summary of data sources

The Safety I dataset (rows 2-5) consisted of 95 specific incident reports, including complaints submitted to the main arm’s-length NHS body in England, NHS England, between 2020 and 2023 (n=69), closed indemnity claims that had been submitted to a national indemnity body, NHS Resolution, between 2015 and 2023 (n=16), reports from an urgent care telephone service in Wales (NHS 111 Wales) between 2020 and 2023 (n=6) and a report on an investigation of telephone advice during the COVID-19 crisis between 2020 and 2022 7 (n=4). These 95 incidents were organised using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

The Safety II dataset (rows 6-10) consisted of extracts from fieldnotes, workshop transcripts and interviews collected over 2 years, stored and coded on NVivo qualitative software. These were identified by searching for text words and codes (e.g. ‘risk’, ‘safety’, ‘incident’) and by asking researchers-in-residence, who were closely familiar with practices, to highlight safety incidents involving harm and examples of safety-conscious work practices. This dataset included over 100 formal interviews and numerous on-the-job interviews with practice staff, plus interviews with a sample of 10 GP (general practitioner) trainers and 10 GP trainees (penultimate row of table 1 ) and with six clinical safety experts identified through purposive sampling from government, arm’s-length bodies and health boards (bottom row of table 1 ).

Data analysis

We analysed incident reports, interview data and ethnographic fieldnotes using thematic analysis as described by Braun and Clarke. 25 These authors define a theme as an important, broad pattern in a set of qualitative data, which can (where necessary) be further refined using coding.

Themes in the incident dataset were identified by five steps. First, two researchers (both medically qualified) read each source repeatedly to gain familiarity. Second, those researchers worked independently using Braun and Clarke’s criterion (‘whether it captures something important in relation to the overall research question’—p 82 25 ) to identify themes. Third, they discussed their initial interpretations with each other and resolved differences through discussion. Fourth, they extracted evidence from the data sources to illustrate and refine each theme. Finally, they presented their list of themes along with illustrative examples to the wider team. Cases used to illustrate themes were systematically fictionalised by changing age, randomly allocating gender and altering clinical details. 26 For example, an acute appendicitis could be changed to acute diverticulitis if the issue was a missed acute abdomen.

These safety themes were then used to sensitise us to seek relevant (confirming and disconfirming) material from our ethnographic and interview datasets. For example, the theme ‘poor communication’ (and subthemes such as ‘failure to seek further clarification’ within this) promoted us to look for examples in our stakeholder interviews of poor communication offered as a cause of safety incidents and examples in our ethnographic notes of good communication (including someone seeking clarification). We used these wider data to add nuance to the initial list of themes.

As a final sense-checking step, the draft findings from this study were shown to each of the six safety experts in our sample and refined in the light of their comments (in some cases, for example, they considered the case to have been overfictionalised, thereby losing key clinical messages; they also gave additional examples to illustrate some of the themes we had identified, which underlined the importance of those themes).

Overview of dataset

The dataset ( table 1 ) consisted of 95 incident reports (see fictionalised examples in box 1 ), plus approximately 400 pages of extracts from interviews, ethnographic fieldnotes and workshop discussions, including situated safety practices (see examples in box 2 ), plus strategic insights relating to policy, organisation and planning of services. Notably, almost all incidents related to telephone calls.

Examples of safety incidents involving death or serious harm in remote encounters

All these cases have been systematically fictionalised as explained in the text.

Case 1 (death)

A woman in her 70s experiencing sudden breathlessness called her GP (general practitioner) surgery. The receptionist answered the phone and informed her that she would place her on the doctor’s list for an emergency call-back. The receptionist was distracted by a patient in the waiting room and did not do so. The patient deteriorated and died at home that afternoon.—NHS Resolution case, pre-2020

Case 2 (death)

An elderly woman contacted her GP after a telephone contact with the out-of-hours service, where constipation had been diagnosed. The GP prescribed laxatives without seeing the patient. The patient self-presented to the emergency department (ED) the following day in obstruction secondary to an incarcerated hernia and died in the operating theatre.—NHS Resolution case, pre-2020

Case 3 (risk to vulnerable patients)

A daughter complained that her elderly father was unable to access his GP surgery as he could not navigate the online triage system. When he phoned the surgery directly, he was directed back to the online system and told to get a relative to complete the form for him.—Complaint to NHS England, 2021

Case 4 (harm)

A woman in her first pregnancy at 28 weeks’ gestation experiencing urinary incontinence called NHS 111. She was taken down by a ‘urinary problems’ algorithm. Both the call handler and the subsequent clinician failed to recognise that she had experienced premature rupture of membranes. She later presented to the maternity department in active labour, and the opportunity to give early steroids to the premature infant was missed.—NHS Resolution case, pre-2020

Case 5 (death)

A doctor called about a 16-year-old girl with lethargy, shaking, fever and poor oral intake who had been unwell for 5 days. The doctor spoke to her older sister and advised that the child had likely glandular fever and should rest. When the parents arrived home, they called an ambulance but the child died of sepsis in the ED.—NHS Resolution case, pre-2020

Case 6 (death)

A 40-year-old woman, 6 weeks after caesarean section, contacted her GP due to shortness of breath, increased heart rate and dry cough. She was advised to get a COVID test and to dial 111 if she developed a productive cough, fever or pain. The following day she collapsed and died at home. The postmortem revealed a large pulmonary embolus. On reviewing the case, her GP surgery felt that had she been seen face to face, her oxygen saturations would have been measured and may have led to suspicion of the diagnosis.—NHS Resolution case, 2020

Case 7 (death)

A son complained that his father with diabetes and chronic kidney disease did not receive any in-person appointments over a period of 1 year. His father went on to die following a leg amputation arising from a complication of his diabetes.—Complaint to NHS England, 2021

Case 8 (death)

A 73-year-old diabetic woman with throat pain and fatigue called the surgery. She was diagnosed with a viral illness and given self-care advice. Over the next few days, she developed worsening breathlessness and was advised to do a COVID test and was given a pulse oximeter. She was found dead at home 4 days later. Postmortem found a blocked coronary artery and a large amount of pulmonary oedema. The cause of death was myocardial infarction and heart failure.—NHS Resolution case, pre-2020

Case 9 (harm)

A patient with a history of successfully treated cervical cancer developed vaginal bleeding. A diagnosis of fibroids was made and the patient received routine care by telephone over the next few months until a scan revealed a local recurrence of the original cancer.—Complaint to NHS England, 2020

Case 10 (death)

A 65-year-old female smoker with chronic cough and breathlessness presented to her GP. She was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and monitored via telephone. She did not respond to inhalers or antibiotics but continued to receive telephone monitoring without further investigation. Her symptoms continued to worsen and she called an ambulance. In the ED, she was diagnosed with heart failure and died soon after.—Complaint to NHS England, 2021

Case 11 (harm)

A 30-year-old woman presented with intermittent episodes of severe dysuria over a period of 2 years. She was given repeated courses of antibiotics but no urine was sent for culture and she was not examined. After 4 months of symptoms, she saw a private GP and was diagnosed with genital herpes.—Complaint to NHS England, 2021

Case 12 (harm)

There were repeated telephone consultations about a baby whose parents were concerned that the child was having a funny colour when feeding or crying. The 6-week check was done by telephone and at no stage was the child seen in person. Photos were sent in, but the child’s dark skin colour meant that cyanosis was not easily apparent to the reviewing clinician. The child was subsequently admitted by emergency ambulance where a significant congenital cardiac abnormality was found.—Complaint to NHS England, 2020 1

Case 13 (harm)

A 35-year-old woman in her third trimester of pregnancy had a telephone appointment with her GP about a breast lump. She was informed that this was likely due to antenatal breast changes and was not offered an in-person appointment. She attended after delivery and was referred to a breast clinic where a cancer was diagnosed.—Complaint to NHS England, 2020

Case 14 (harm)

A 63-year-old woman with a variety of physical symptoms including diarrhoea, hip girdle pain, palpitations, light-headedness and insomnia called her surgery on multiple occasions. She was told her symptoms were likely due to anxiety, but was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and died soon after.—Complaint to NHS England, 2021

Case 15 (death)

A man with COPD with worsening shortness of breath called his GP surgery. The staff asked him if it was an emergency, and when the patient said no, scheduled him for 2 weeks later. The patient died before the appointment.—Complaint to NHS England, 2021

Examples of safety practices

Case 16 (safety incident averted by switching to video call for a sick child)

‘I’ve remembered one father that called up. Really didn’t seem to be too concerned. And was very much under-playing it and then when I did a video call, you know this child… had intercostal recession… looked really, really poorly. And it was quite scary actually that, you know, you’d had the conversation and if you’d just listened to what Dad was saying, actually, you probably wouldn’t be concerned.’—GP (general practitioner) interview 2022

Case 17 (‘red flag’ spotted by support staff member)

A receptionist was processing routine ‘administrative’ encounters sent in by patients using AccuRx (text messaging software). She became concerned about a sick note renewal request from a patient with a mental health condition. The free text included a reference to feeling suicidal, so the receptionist moved the request to the ‘red’ (urgent call-back) list. In interviews with staff, it became apparent that there had recently been heated discussion in the practice about whether support staff were adding ‘too many’ patients to the red list. After discussing cases, the doctors concluded that it should be them, not the support staff, who should absorb the risk in uncertain cases. The receptionist said that they had been told: ‘if in doubt, put it down as urgent and then the duty doctor can make a decision.’—Ethnographic fieldnotes from general practice 2023

Case 18 (‘check-in’ phone call added on busy day)

A duty doctor was working through a very busy Monday morning ‘urgent’ list. One patient had acute abdominal pain, which would normally have triggered an in-person appointment, but there were no slots and hard decisions were being made. This patient had had the pain already for a week, so the doctor judged that the general rule of in-person examination could probably be over-ridden. But instead of simply allocating to a call-back, the doctor asked a support staff member to phone the patient, ask ‘are you OK to wait until tomorrow?’ and offer basic safety-netting advice.—Ethnographic fieldnotes from general practice 2023

Case 19 (receptionist advocating on behalf of ‘angry’ walk-in patient)

A young Afghan man with limited English walked into a GP surgery on a very busy day, ignoring the prevailing policy of ‘total triage’ (make contact by phone or online in the first instance). He indicated that he wanted a same-day in-person appointment for a problem he perceived as urgent. A heated exchange occurred with the first receptionist, and the patient accused her of ‘racism’. A second receptionist of non-white ethnicity herself noted the man’s distress and suspected that there may indeed be an urgent problem. She asked the first receptionist to leave the scene, saying she wanted to ‘have a chat’ with the patient (‘the colour of my skin probably calmed him down more than anything’). Through talking to the patient and looking through his record, she ascertained that he had an acute infection that likely needed prompt attention. She tried to ‘bend the rules’ and persuade the duty doctor to see the patient, conveying the clinical information but deliberately omitting the altercation. But the first receptionist complained to the doctor (‘he called us racists’) and the doctor decided that the patient would not therefore be offered a same-day appointment. The second receptionist challenged the doctor (‘that’s not a reason to block him from getting care’). At this point, the patient cried and the second receptionist also became upset (‘this must be serious, you know’). On this occasion, despite her advocacy the patient was not given an immediate appointment.—Ethnographic fieldnotes from general practice 2022

Case 20 (long-term condition nurse visits ‘unengaged’ patients at home)

An advanced nurse practitioner talks of two older patients, each with a long-term condition, who are ‘unengaged’ and lacking a telephone. In this practice, all long-term condition reviews are routinely done by phone. She reflects that some people ‘choose not to have avenues of communication’ (ie, are deliberately not contactable), and that there may be reasons for this (‘maybe health anxiety or just old’). She has, on occasion, ‘turned up’ unannounced at the patient’s home and asked to come in and do the review, including bloods and other tests. She reflects that while most patients engage well with the service, ‘half my job is these patients who don’t engage very well.’—Ethnographic fieldnotes from digitally advanced general practice 2022

Case 21 (doctor over-riding patient’s request for telephone prescribing)

A GP trainee described a case of a 53-year-old first-generation immigrant from Pakistan, a known smoker with hypertension and diabetes. He had booked a telephone call for vomiting and sinus pain. There was no interpreter available but the man spoke some English. He said he had awoken in the night with pain in his sinuses and vomiting. All he wanted was painkillers for his sinuses. The story did not quite make sense, and the man ‘sounded unwell’. The GP told him he needed to come in and be examined. The patient initially resisted but was persuaded to come in. When the GP went to call him in, the man was visibly unwell and lying down in the waiting room. When seen in person, he admitted to shoulder pain. The GP sent him to accident and emergency (A&E) where a myocardial infarction was diagnosed.—Trainee interview 2023

Below, we describe the main themes that were evident in the safety incidents: a challenging organisational and system context, poor communication compounded by remote modalities, limited clinical information, patient and carer burden and inadequate training. Many safety incidents illustrated multiple themes—for example, poor communication and failures of clinical assessment or judgement and patient complexity and system pressures. In the detailed findings below, we illustrate why safety incidents occasionally occur and why they are usually avoided.

The context for remote consultations: system and operational challenges

Introduction of remote triage and expansion of remote consultations in UK primary care occurred at a time of unprecedented system stress (an understaffed and chronically under-resourced primary care sector, attempting to cope with a pandemic). 23 Many organisations had insufficient telephone lines or call handlers, so patients struggled to access services (eg, half of all calls to the emergency COVID-19 telephone service in March 2020 were never answered 7 ). Most remote consultations were by telephone. 27

Our safety incident dataset included examples of technically complex access routes which patients found difficult or impossible to navigate (case 3 in box 1 ) and which required non-clinical staff to make clinical or clinically related judgements (cases 4 and 15). Our ethnographic dataset contained examples of inflexible application of triage rules (eg, no face-to-face consultation unless the patient had already had a telephone call), though in other practices these rules could be over-ridden by staff using their judgement or asking colleagues. Some practices had a high rate of failed telephone call-backs (patient unobtainable).

High demand, staff shortages and high turnover of clinical and support staff made the context for remote encounters inherently risky. Several incidents were linked to a busy staff member becoming distracted (case 1). Telephone consultations, which tend to be shorter, were sometimes used in the hope of improving efficiency. Some safety incidents suggested perfunctory and transactional telephone consultations, with flawed decisions made on the basis of incomplete information (eg, case 2).

Many practices had shifted—at least to some extent—from a demand-driven system (in which every request for an appointment was met) to a capacity-driven one (in which, if a set capacity was exceeded, patients were advised to seek care elsewhere), though the latter was often used flexibly rather than rigidly with an expectation that some patients would be ‘squeezed in’. In some practices, capacity limits had been introduced to respond to escalation of demand linked to overuse of triage templates (eg, to inquire about minor symptoms).

As a result of task redistribution and new staff roles, a single episode of care for one problem often involved multiple encounters or tasks distributed among clinical and non-clinical staff (often in different locations and sometimes also across in-hours and out-of-hours providers). Capacity constraints in onward services placed pressure on primary care to manage risk in the community, leading in some cases to failure to escalate care appropriately (case 6).

Some safety incidents were linked to organisational routines that had not adapted sufficiently to remote—for example, a prescription might be issued but (for various reasons) it could not be transmitted electronically to the pharmacy. Certain urgent referrals were delayed if the consultation occurred remotely (a referral for suspected colon cancer, for example, would not be accepted without a faecal immunochemical test).

Training, supervising and inducting staff was more difficult when many were working remotely. If teams saw each other less frequently, relationship-building encounters and ‘corridor’ conversations were reduced, with knock-on impacts for individual and team learning and patient care. Those supervising trainees or allied professionals reported loss of non-verbal cues (eg, more difficult to assess how confident or distressed the trainee was).

Clinical and support staff regularly used initiative and situated judgement to compensate for an overall lack of system resilience ( box 1 ). Many practices had introduced additional safety measures such as lists of patients who, while not obviously urgent, needed timely review by a clinician. Case 17 illustrates how a rule of thumb ‘if in doubt, put it down as urgent’ was introduced and then applied to avert a potentially serious mental health outcome. Case 18 illustrates how, in the context of insufficient in-person slots to accommodate all high-risk cases, a unique safety-netting measure was customised for a patient.

Poor communication is compounded by remote modalities

Because sense data (eg, sight, touch, smell) are missing, 28 remote consultations rely heavily on the history. Many safety incidents were characterised by insufficient or inaccurate information for various reasons. Sometimes (cases 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11), the telephone consultation was too short to do justice to the problem; the clinician asked few or no questions to build rapport, obtain a full history, probe the patient’s answers for additional detail, confirm or exclude associated symptoms and inquire about comorbidities and medication. Video provided some visual cues but these were often limited to head and shoulders, and photographs were sometimes of poor quality.

Cases 2, 4, 5 and 9 illustrate the dangers of relying on information provided by a third party (another staff member or a relative). A key omission (eg, in case 5) was failing to ask why the patient was unable to come to the phone or answer questions directly.

Some remote triage conversations were conducted using an inappropriate algorithm. In case 4, for example, the call handler accepted a pregnant patient’s assumption that leaking fluid was urine when the problem was actually ruptured membranes. The wrong pathway was selected; vital questions remained unasked; and a skewed history was passed to (and accepted by) the clinician. In case 8, the patient’s complaint of ‘throat’ pain was taken literally and led to ‘viral illness’ advice, overlooking a myocardial infarction.

The cases in box 2 illustrate how staff compensated for communication challenges. In case 16, a GP plays a hunch that a father’s account of his child’s asthma may be inaccurate and converts a phone encounter to video, revealing the child’s respiratory distress. In case 19 (an in-person encounter but relevant because the altercation occurs partly because remote triage is the default modality), one receptionist correctly surmises that the patient’s angry demeanour may indicate urgency and uses her initiative and interpersonal skills to obtain additional clinical information. In case 20, a long-term condition nurse develops a labour-intensive workaround to overcome her elderly patients’ ‘lack of engagement’. More generally, we observed numerous examples of staff using both formal tools (eg, see ‘red list’ in case 17) and informal measures (eg, corridor chats) to pass on what they believed to be crucial information.

Remote consulting can provide limited clinical information

Cases 2 and 4–14 all describe serious conditions including congenital cyanotic heart disease, pulmonary oedema, sepsis, cancer and diabetic foot which would likely have been readily diagnosed with an in-person examination. While patients often uploaded still images of skin lesions, these were not always of sufficient quality to make a confident diagnosis.

Several safety incidents involved clinicians assuming that a diagnosis made on a remote consultation was definitive rather than provisional. Especially when subsequent consultations were remote, such errors could become ingrained, leading to diagnostic overshadowing and missed or delayed diagnosis (cases 2, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13). Patients with pre-existing conditions (especially if multiple or progressive), the very young and the elderly were particularly difficult to assess by telephone (cases 1, 2, 8, 10, 12 and 16). Clinical conditions difficult to assess remotely included possible cardiac pain (case 8), acute abdomen (case 2), breathing difficulties (cases 1, 6 and 10), vague and generalised symptoms (cases 5 and 14) and symptoms which progressed despite treatment (cases 9, 10 and 11). All these categories came up repeatedly in interviews and workshops as clinically risky.

Subtle aspects of the consultation which may have contributed to safety incidents in a telephone consultation included the inability to fully appraise the patient’s overall health and well-being (including indicators relevant to mental health such as affect, eye contact, personal hygiene and evidence of self-harm), general demeanour, level of agitation and concern, and clues such as walking speed and gait (cases 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12 and 14). Our interviews included stories of missed cases of new-onset frailty and dementia in elderly patients assessed by telephone.

In most practices we studied, most long-term condition management was undertaken by telephone. This may be appropriate (and indeed welcome) when the patient is well and confident and a physical examination is not needed. But diabetes reviews, for example, require foot examination. Case 7 describes the deterioration and death of a patient with diabetes whose routine check-ups had been entirely by telephone. We also heard stories of delayed diagnosis of new diabetes in children when an initial telephone assessment failed to pick up lethargy, weight loss and smell of ketones, and point-of-care tests of blood or urine were not possible.

Nurses observed that remote consultations limit opportunities for demonstrating or checking the patient’s technique in using a device for monitoring or treating their condition such as an inhaler, oximeter or blood pressure machine.

Safety netting was inadequate in many remote safety incidents, even when provided by a clinician (cases 2, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 13) but especially when conveyed by a non-clinician (case 15). Expert interviewees identified that making life-changing diagnoses remotely and starting patients on long-term medication without an in-person appointment was also risky.

Our ethnographic data showed that various measures were used to compensate for limited clinical information, including converting a phone consultation to video (case 16), asking the patient if they felt they could wait until an in-person slot was available (case 18), visiting the patient at home (case 20) and enacting a ‘if the history doesn’t make sense, bring the patient in for an in-person assessment’ rule of thumb (case 21). Out-of-hours providers added examples of rules of thumb that their services had developed over years of providing remote services, including ‘see a child face-to-face if the parent rings back’, ‘be cautious about third-party histories’, ‘visit a palliative care patient before starting a syringe driver’ and ‘do not assess abdominal pain remotely’.

Remote modalities place additional burdens on patients and carers

Given the greater importance of the history in remote consultations, patients who lacked the ability to communicate and respond in line with clinicians’ expectations were at a significant disadvantage. Several safety incidents were linked to patients’ limited fluency in the language and culture of the clinician or to specific vulnerabilities such as learning disability, cognitive impairment, hearing impairment or neurodiversity. Those with complex medical histories and comorbidities, and those with inadequate technical set-up and skills (case 3), faced additional challenges.

In many practices, in-person appointments were strictly limited according to more or less rigid triage criteria. Some patients were unable to answer the question ‘is this an emergency?’ correctly, leading to their condition being deprioritised (case 15). Some had learnt to ‘game’ the triage system (eg, online templates 29 ) by adapting their story to obtain the in-person appointment they felt they needed. This could create distrust and lead to inaccurate information on the patient record.

Our ethnographic dataset contained many examples of clinical and support staff using initiative to compensate for vulnerable patients’ inability or unwillingness to take on the additional burden of remote modalities (cases 19 and 20 in Box 2 30 31 ).

Training for remote encounters is often inadequate

Safety incidents highlighted various training needs for support staff members (eg, customer care skills, risks of making clinical judgements) and clinicians (eg, limitations of different modalities, risks of diagnostic overshadowing). Whereas out-of-hours providers gave thorough training to novice GPs (covering such things as attentiveness, rapport building, history taking, probing, attending to contextual cues and safety netting) in telephone consultations, 32–34 many in-hours clinicians had never been formally taught to consult by telephone. Case 17 illustrates how on-the-job training based on acknowledgement of contextual pressures and judicious use of rules of thumb may be very effective in averting safety incidents.

Statement of principal findings

An important overall finding from this study is that examples of deaths or serious harms associated with remote encounters in primary care were extremely rare, amounting to fewer than 100 despite an extensive search going back several years.

Analysis of these 95 safety incidents, drawn from multiple complementary sources, along with rich qualitative data from ethnography, interviews and workshops has clarified where the key risks lie in remote primary care. Remote triage and consultations expanded rapidly in the context of the COVID-19 crisis; they were occurring in the context of resource constraints, understaffing and high demand. Triage and care pathways were complex, multilayered and hard to navigate; some involved distributed work among multiple clinical and non-clinical staff. In some cases, multiple remote encounters preceded (and delayed) a needed in-person assessment.

In this high-risk context, safety incidents involving death or serious harm were rare, but those that occurred were characterised by a combination of inappropriate choice of modality, poor rapport building, inadequate information gathering, limited clinical assessment, inappropriate clinical pathway (eg, wrong algorithm) and failure to take account of social circumstances. These led to missed, inaccurate or delayed diagnoses, underestimation of severity or urgency, delayed referral, incorrect or delayed treatment, poor safety netting and inadequate follow-up. Patients with complex or multiple pre-existing conditions, cardiac or abdominal emergencies, vague or generalised symptoms, safeguarding issues and failure to respond to previous treatment, and those who (for any reason) had difficulty communicating, seemed particularly at risk.

Strengths and limitations of the study

The main strength of this study was that it combined the largest Safety I study undertaken to date of safety incidents in remote primary care (using datasets which have not previously been tapped for research), with a large, UK-wide ethnographic Safety II analysis of general practice as well as stakeholder interviews and workshops. Limitations of the safety incident sample (see final column in table 1 ) include that it was skewed towards very rare cases of death and serious harm, with relatively few opportunities for learning that did not result in serious harm. Most sources were retrospective and may have suffered from biases in documentation and recall. We also failed to obtain examples of safeguarding incidents (which would likely turn up in social care audits). While all cases involved a remote modality (or a patient who would not or could not use one), it is impossible to definitively attribute the harm to that modality.

Comparison with existing literature

This study has affirmed previous findings that processes, workflows and training in in-hours general practice have not adapted adequately to the booking, delivery and follow-up of remote consultations. 24 35 36 Safety issues can arise, for example, from how the remote consultation interfaces with other key practice routines (eg, for making urgent referrals for possible cancer). The sheer complexity and fragmentation of much remote and digital work underscores the findings from a systematic review of the importance of relational coordination (defined as ‘a mutually reinforcing process of communicating and relating for the purpose of task integration ’ (p 3) 37 ) and psychological safety (defined as ‘people’s perceptions of the consequences of taking interpersonal risks in a particular context such as a workplace ’ (p 23) 38 ) in building organisational resilience and assuring safety.

The additional workload and complexity associated with running remote appointments alongside in-person ones is cognitively demanding for staff and requires additional skills for which not all are adequately trained. 24 39 40 We have written separately about the loss of traditional continuity of care as primary care services become digitised, 41–43 and about the unmet training needs of both clinical and support staff for managing remote and digital encounters. 24

Our findings also resonate with research showing that remote modalities can interfere with communicative tasks such as rapport building, establishing a therapeutic relationship and identifying non-verbal cues such as tearfulness 35 36 44 ; that remote consultations tend to be shorter and feature less discussion, information gathering and safety netting 45–48 ; and that clinical assessment in remote encounters may be challenging, 27 49 50 especially when physical examination is needed. 35 36 51 These factors may rarely contribute to incorrect or delayed diagnoses, underestimation of the seriousness or urgency of a case, and failure to identify a deteriorating trajectory. 35 36 52–54

Even when systems seem adequate, patients may struggle to navigate them. 23 30 31 This finding aligns with an important recent review of cognitive load theory in the context of remote and digital health services: because such services are more cognitively demanding for patients, they may widen inequities of access. 55 Some patients lack navigating and negotiating skills, access to key technologies 13 36 or confidence in using them. 30 35 The remote encounter may require the patient to have a sophisticated understanding of access and cross-referral pathways, interpret their own symptoms (including making judgements about severity and urgency), obtain and use self-monitoring technologies (such as a blood pressure machine or oximeter) and convey these data in medically meaningful ways (eg, by completing algorithmic triage forms or via a telephone conversation). 30 56 Furthermore, the remote environment may afford fewer opportunities for holistically evaluating, supporting or safeguarding the vulnerable patient, leading to widening inequities. 13 35 57 Previous work has also shown that patients with pre-existing illness, complex comorbidities or high-risk states, 58 59 language non-concordance, 13 35 inability to describe their symptoms (eg, due to autism 60 ), extremes of age 61 and those with low health or system literacy 30 are more difficult to assess remotely.

Lessons for safer care

Many of the contributory factors to safety incidents in remote encounters have been suggested previously, 35 36 and align broadly with factors that explain safety incidents more generally. 53 62 63 This new study has systematically traced how upstream factors may, very rarely, combine to contribute to avoidable human tragedies—and also how primary care teams develop local safety practices and cultures to help avoid them. Our study provides some important messages for practices and policymakers.

First, remote encounters in general practice are mostly occurring in a system designed for in-person encounters, so processes and workflows may work less well.

Second, because the remote encounter depends more on history taking and dialogue, verbal communication is even more mission critical. Working remotely under system pressures and optimising verbal communication should both be priorities for staff training.

Third, the remote environment may increase existing inequities as patients’ various vulnerabilities (eg, extremes of age, poverty, language and literacy barriers, comorbidities) make remote communication and assessment more difficult. Our study has revealed impressive efforts from staff to overcome these inequities on an individual basis; some of these workarounds may become normalised and increase efficiency, but others are labour intensive and not scalable.

A final message from this study is that clinical assessment provides less information when a physical examination (and even a basic visual overview) is not possible. Hence, the remote consultation has a higher degree of inherent uncertainty. Even when processes have been optimised (eg, using high-quality triage to allocate modality), but especially when they have not, diagnoses and assessments of severity or urgency should be treated as more provisional and revisited accordingly. We have given examples in the Results section of how local adaptation and rule breaking bring flexibility into the system and may become normalised over time, leading to the creation of locally understood ‘rules of thumb’ which increase safety.

Overall, these findings underscore the need to share learning and develop guidance about the drivers of risk, how these play out in different kinds of remote encounters and how to develop and strengthen Safety II approaches to mitigate those risks. Table 2 shows proposed mitigations at staff, process and system levels, as well as a preliminary list of suggestions for patients, which could be refined with patient input using codesign methods. 64

Reducing safety incidents in remote primary care

Unanswered questions and future research

This study has helped explain where the key risks lie in remote primary care encounters, which in our dataset were almost all by telephone. It has revealed examples of how front-line staff create and maintain a safety culture, thereby helping to prevent such incidents. We suggest four key avenues for further research. First, additional ethnographic studies in general practice might extend these findings and focus on specific subquestions (eg, how practices identify, capture and learn from near-miss incidents). Second, ethnographic studies of out-of-hours services, which are mostly telephone by default, may reveal additional elements of safety culture from which in-hours general practice could learn. Third, the rise in asynchronous e-consultations (in which patients complete an online template and receive a response by email) raises questions about the safety of this new modality which could be explored in mixed-methods studies including quantitative analysis of what kinds of conditions these consultations cover and qualitative analysis of the content and dynamics of the interaction. Finally, our findings suggest that the safety of new clinically related ‘assistant’ roles in general practice should be urgently evaluated, especially when such staff are undertaking remote assessment or remote triage.

Ethics statements

Patient consent for publication.

Not applicable.

Ethics approval

Ethical approval was granted by the East Midlands—Leicester South Research Ethics Committee and UK Health Research Authority (September 2021, 21/EM/0170 and subsequent amendments). Access to the NHS Resolution dataset was obtained by secondment of the RP via honorary employment contract, where she worked with staff to de-identify and fictionalise relevant cases. The Remote by Default 2 study (referenced in main text) was co-designed by patients and lay people; it includes a diverse patient panel. Oversight was provided by an independent external advisory group with a lay chair and patient representation. A person with lived experience of a healthcare safety incident (NS) is a co-author on this paper and provided input to data analysis and writing up, especially the recommendations for patients in table 2 .


We thank the participating organisations for cooperating with this study and giving permission to use fictionalised safety incidents. We thank the participants in the ethnographic study (patients, practice staff, policymakers, other informants) who gave generously of their time and members of the study advisory group.

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Twitter @dakinfrancesca, @trishgreenhalgh

Contributors RP led the Safety I analysis with support from AC. The Safety II analysis was part of a wider ethnographic study led by TG and SS, on which all other authors undertook fieldwork and contributed data. TG and RP wrote the paper, with all other authors contributing refinements. All authors checked and approved the final manuscript. RP is guarantor.

Funding Funding was from NIHR HS&DR (grant number 132807) (Remote by Default 2 study) and NIHR School for Primary Care Research (grant number 594) (ModCons study), plus an NIHR In-Practice Fellowship for RP.

Competing interests RP was National Professional Advisor, Care Quality Commission 2017–2022, where her role included investigation of safety issues.

Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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Top 10 Qualitative Research Report Templates with Samples and Examples

Top 10 Qualitative Research Report Templates with Samples and Examples

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought, ” said Hungarian biochemist and Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who discovered Vitamin C. This fabulous statement on research as a human endeavor reminds us that execution matters, of course, but the solid pillar of research that backs it is invaluable as well.

Here’s an example to illustrate this in action.

Have you ever wondered what makes Oprah Winfrey a successful businesswoman? It's her research abilities. Oprah might not have been as successful as a news anchor and television show host if she hadn't done her exploratory research on key topics and public figures. Additionally, without the research and development that went into the internet, there was no way that you could be reading this post right now. Research is an essential tool for understanding the intricacies of many topics and advancing knowledge.

Businesses in the modern world are, increasingly, based on research. Within research too, the qualitative world of non-numerical observations, data, and impactful insights is what business owners are most interested in. This is not to say that numbers or empirical research is not important. It is, of course, one of the founding blocks of business.

In this blog, however, we focus on qualitative research PPT Templates that help you move forward and get on the profitable highway and take the best decisions for your business.

These presentation templates are 100% customizable, and editable. Use these to leave a lasting impact on your audience and get recall for your business value offering.

Top 10 Qualitative Research Report Templates

The goal of qualitative research methods is to monitor market trends and attitudes through surveys, analyses, historical research, and open-ended interviews. It helps interpret and comprehend human behavior using data. With the use of qualitative market research services, you may get access to the appropriate data that could help you make decisions.

After finishing the research portion of your assignment effectively, you'll need a captivating way to present your findings to your audience. Here, SlideTeam's qualitative research report templates come in handy. Our top ten qualitative research templates will help you effectively communicate your message. Let’s start a tour of this universe.

Template 1 : Qualitative Research Proposal Template PowerPoint Presentation Slides

For the reader to understand your research proposal, you must have well-structured PPT slides. Don't worry, SlideTeam has you covered. Our pre-made research proposal template presentation slides have no learning curve. This implies that any user may rapidly create a powerful professional research proposal presentation using our PPT slides. Download these PowerPoint slides in a way that will convince your reviewers to accept your strategy.

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Template 2 : Qualitative Research Powerpoint PPT Template Bundles

You may have observed that some brands have taken the place of generic words for comparable products in our language.  Even though we are aware that Band-Aid is a brand, we always ask for Band-Aid whenever we require a plastic bandage. The power of branding is quite astounding. This is the benefit that our next PPT template bundles will provide for your business. Potential customers will find it simpler to recognize your brand and correctly associate it with a certain good or service because of our platform-independent PowerPoint Slides. Download now!

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Template 3 : Qualitative Research Interviewing Presentation Deck

Do you find it hard to handle challenging conversations at work? Then, you may conduct effective interviews employing this PowerPoint presentation. Our presentation on qualitative research interviews aimed to "give voice" to the subjects. It provides details on interviews, information, research, participant, and study methodologies. Download this PowerPoint Presentation if you need to introduce yourself effectively during a quick visual communication.

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Template 4 : Thematic Analysis Qualitative Research PPT PowerPoint Presentation Outline Rules CPB

Thematic analysis is a technique used in qualitative research to arrive at  hidden patterns and other inferences based on a theme. Any research can employ our Thematic analysis qualitative research PPT. By using all the features of this adaptable PPT, you may convey information well. By including the proper icons and symbols, this presentation can be improved as an instructional tool and opened on any platform. Download now!

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Template 5 : Comparative Analysis of Qualitative Research Methods

Conducting a successful comparison analysis is essential if you or your company wants to make sure that your decision-making process is efficient. With the help of our comparative analysis of qualitative research techniques, you can make choices that work for both your company and your clients. Focus Group Interviews, Cognitive Mapping, Critical Incident Technique, Verbal Protocol, Data Collection, Data Analysis, Research Scope, and Objective are covered in this extensive series of slides. Download today to carry out efficient business operations.

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Template 6 : Five-Type of Qualitative Research Designs

Your business can achieve significant results with the help of our five  qualitative research design types. Given that it incorporates layers of case studies, phenomenology, historical studies, and action research, it qualifies as a full-fledged presentation. Download this presentation template to perform an objective, open-ended technique and to carefully consider probable sources of errors.

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Template 7 : Key Phases for the Qualitative Research Process

Any attempt at qualitative research, no matter how small, must follow the prescribed procedures. The key stages of the qualitative research method are combined in this pre-made PPT template. This set of slides covers data analysis, research approach, research design, research aim, issue description, research questions, philosophical assumptions, data collecting, and result interpretation. Get it now.

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Template 8 : Thematic Analysis of Qualitative Research Data

Thematic analysis is performed on the raw data that is acquired through focus groups, interviews, surveys, etc. We go over each and every critical step in our slides on thematic analysis of qualitative research data, including how to uncover codes, identify themes in the data, finalize topics, explore each theme, and analyze documents. This completely editable PowerPoint presentation is available for instant download.

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Template 9 : Swot Analysis of Qualitative Research Approach

Use this PowerPoint set to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your company. Each slide comes with a unique tool that may be utilized to strengthen your areas of weakness, grasp opportunities, and lessen risks. This template can be used to collect statistics, add your own information, and then begin considering how you might get better.

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Template 10 : Qualitative Research through Graph Showing Revenue Growth

A picture truly is worth a thousand words even when it comes to summarizing your research's findings. Researchers encounter an unavoidable issue when presenting qualitative study data; to address this challenge, Slide Team has created a user-responsive Graph Showing Revenue Growth template. This slideshow graph could help you make informed decisions and encourage your company's growth.

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Template 11 : Qualitative Research Data Collection Approaches and Implications

Like blood moving through the circulatory system, data moves through an organization. Businesses cannot run without data. The first step in making better decisions is gathering data. This presentation template includes all the elements necessary to create a successful business plan, from data collection to analysis of the best method to comprehend concepts, opinions, or experiences. Get it now.

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Template 12 : Qualitative Research Analysis of Comments with Magnify Glass

The first step in performing a qualitative analysis of your data is gathering all the comments and feedback you want to look at. Our templates help you document those comments. These slides are fully editable and contain a visual accessibility function. The organization and formatting of the sections are excellent. Download it now.

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PS For more information on qualitative and quantitative data analysis, as well as to determine which type of market research is best for your company, check out this blog.

FAQs on Qualitative Research 

Writing a qualitative research report.

A qualitative report is a summary of an experience, activity, event, or observation. The format of a qualitative report includes an abstract, introduction, background information on the issue, the researcher's role, theoretical viewpoint, methodology, ethical considerations, results, data analysis, limitations, discussion, conclusions, implications, references, and an appendix. A qualitative research report requires extensive detail and is typically divided into several sections. These start with the title, a table of contents, and an abstract; these form the beginning. Then, the meat of a qualitative report comprises an introduction, the literature review, an account of investigation, findings, discussion, and conclusions. The final section is references.

How do you Report Data in Qualitative Research?

A qualitative research report is frequently built around themes. You should be aware that it can be difficult to express qualitative findings as thoroughly as they deserve. It is customary to use direct quotes from sources like interviews to support the viewpoint. To develop a precise description or explanation of the primary theme being studied, it is also crucial to clarify concepts and connect them. There is the need to state about design, which is how were the subject choices made, leading through other steps to documenting that how the researcher verified the research’s findings/results.

What is an Example of a Report of Qualitative Data?

Qualitative data are categorical by nature. Reports that use qualitative data make it easier to present complex information. The semi-structured interview is one of the best illustrations of a qualitative data collection technique that provides open-ended responses from informants while allowing researchers to ask questions based on a set of predetermined themes. Since they enable both inductive and deductive evaluative reasoning, these are crucial tools for qualitative research.

How do you write an Introduction for a Qualitative Report?

A qualitative report must have a strong introduction. In this section, the researcher emphasizes the aims and objectives of the methodical study. It also addresses the problem that the systematic study aims to solve. In this section, it's imperative to state whether the research's goals were met. The researcher goes into further depth about the research problem in the introduction part and discusses the need for a methodical enquiry. The researcher must define any technical words or phrases used.

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  1. Qualitative Research Paper Critique Example

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  2. Example Of Quantitative Research Paper Chapter 3

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  3. Qualitative Research Examples

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  4. (PDF) Qualitative data analysis and writing results (workshop)

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  5. Results And Discussion In Research Example : Results And Discussion Chapters For Qualitative

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  1. Types of Research

  2. Important Fields in Quantitative Research

  3. What to write in the Discussion chapter

  4. Qualitative Research Paper Writing: Expert Advice

  5. Quantitative versus Qualitative research



  1. How to Write a Results Section

    Published on August 30, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023. A results section is where you report the main findings of the data collection and analysis you conducted for your thesis or dissertation. You should report all relevant results concisely and objectively, in a logical order.

  2. Q: How to write the Discussion section in a qualitative paper?

    1. Begin by discussing the research question and talking about whether it was answered in the research paper based on the results. 2. Highlight any unexpected and/or exciting results and link them to the research question 3. Point out some previous studies and draw comparisons on how your study is different 4.

  3. PDF Results Section for Research Papers

    In this handout, you will find a description of a results section, the differences between the results and discussion sections, differences between qualitative and quantitative data, sample results sections, and an activity to explore results in your field. What is the Purpose of a Results Section?

  4. Dissertation Results & Findings Chapter (Qualitative)

    The results chapter in a dissertation or thesis (or any formal academic research piece) is where you objectively and neutrally present the findings of your qualitative analysis (or analyses if you used multiple qualitative analysis methods ).

  5. Qualitative Results and Discussion

    Qualitative Results and Discussion Peijian Paul Sun Chapter First Online: 20 August 2020 277 Accesses Abstract This chapter presents the results and discussion in line with the five research questions of the present study based on the qualitative data collected from the focus groups and semi-structured interviews.

  6. How to Write Discussions and Conclusions

    The discussion section contains the results and outcomes of a study. An effective discussion informs readers what can be learned from your experiment and provides context for the results. What makes an effective discussion?

  7. Presenting and Evaluating Qualitative Research

    Qualitative research can be found in all social sciences and in the applied fields that derive from them, for example, research in health services, nursing, and pharmacy. 1 It looks at X in terms of how X varies in different circumstances rather than how big is X or how many Xs are there? 2 Textbooks often subdivide research into qualitative and...

  8. PDF Reporting Qualitative Research in Psychology

    Chapters 4 through 7 consider the typical sections of a qualitative research paper— the introductory sections, Method, Results, and Discussion. These chapters emphasize aspects of reporting that are unique to qualitative research. They describe the general elements that should be reported in qualitative papers and can assist authors in devel-

  9. PDF Discussion Section for Research Papers

    An effective discussion section will tell a reader why the research results are important and where they fit in the current literature, while also being self-critical and candid about the shortcomings of the study. How Does a Discussion Section Differ from a Conclusion? A conclusion summarizes parts of the paper.

  10. PDF Chapter 4 Key Findings and Discussion

    Chapter 4 Key Findings and Discussion This chapter presents principal findings from the primary research. The findings can be divided into two groups: qualitative and quantitative results. Figure 4.1 illustrates how these two types of results are integrated. According to this figure, the qualitative results,

  11. PDF 7th Edition Discussion Phrases Guide

    In the Discussion section of a research paper, you should evaluate and interpret the implications of study ... section of a research paper. These are examples of only some, but not all, of the phrases that can be used in the ... quantitative and qualitative research papers can be found in Sections 3.8 and 3.16 of the Publication Manual of the ...

  12. Commentary: Writing and Evaluating Qualitative Research Reports

    Results and Conclusions When producing qualitative research, individuals are encouraged to address the qualitative research considerations raised and to explicitly identify the systematic strategies used to ensure rigor in study design and methods, analysis, and presentation of findings.

  13. Sample-Chapter-4- Qualitative

    Sample-Chapter-4- Qualitative - CHAPTER 4 Results and Discussions Presented in this chapter is the - Studocu Doña Carmen Denia National High School Doña Carmen Denia National High School Sta.Cat.-1 DLP AP2-Q1-Week- Inbound 7732611856679654245 M111rev - bbbnnvv 14 Module 10 - CRY OF Balintawak Wi18 MT1 bekyel - vvnxzfg Midterm 1review - jzjsjzjj

  14. What Is Qualitative Research?

    Qualitative research methods. Each of the research approaches involve using one or more data collection methods.These are some of the most common qualitative methods: Observations: recording what you have seen, heard, or encountered in detailed field notes. Interviews: personally asking people questions in one-on-one conversations. Focus groups: asking questions and generating discussion among ...

  15. PDF Chapter 4: Analysis and Interpretation of Results

    The second, which is based on the results of the interview and focus group discussions, is a qualitative interpretation. 4.2 PHASE ONE: QUANTITATIVE INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS Analysis of Questionnaires Of a total of 400 questionnaires distributed, only 380 completed questionnaires were the base for computing the results.

  16. How to write the analysis and discussion chapters in qualitative research

    In conclusion. The discussion chapters form the heart of your thesis and this is where your unique contribution comes to the forefront. This is where your data takes centre-stage and where you get to showcase your original arguments, perspectives and knowledge. To do this effectively needs you to explore the original themes and issues arising ...

  17. Qualitative Research: Data Collection, Analysis, and Management

    The work of Latif and others 12 gives an example of how qualitative research findings ... There should be a section on the chosen methodology and a brief discussion about why qualitative methodology was most appropriate for the study question and why one particular methodology (e.g., interpretative phenomenological analysis rather than grounded ...

  18. Chapter 7: Presenting Your Results

    Methods: The methods of your paper are the processes that govern your research, where the researcher explains what s/he did to solve the problem. As you have seen throughout this book, in communication studies, there are a number of different types of research methods. For example, in quantitative research, one might conduct surveys ...

  19. Qualitative Research

    Qualitative Research - Methods, Types, and Examples 16 min read Published on: Dec 25, 2017 Last updated on: Nov 22, 2023 There are various methods for conducting scientific research. The two broad approaches to data collection include qualitative and quantitative research methods.

  20. Qualitative Research Report

    When submitting your qualitative research report, you have to make sure it has the right format. To start, you will need this Annual Report Cover Page Template. You can use it for your constant qualitative research and research proposals. 7. Board Meeting Report Template.

  21. Top 60 Examples of Qualitative Research Topics in 2021

    These topics can involve gathering key data from the most relevant sources to your assignment topics and are fundamental to your effort to collect first-hand information. Some of the major fields where qualitative research is performed include: Anthropology. Political science. Psychology. Business management. History. Social science.

  22. Use of Photovoice in sub-Saharan Africa: Illustrations and Reflections

    Photovoice is a qualitative research method and simultaneously a tool to promote health and empowerment (Wang, 1999; Wang & Burris, 1994, 1997; Wang et al., 1996; Wang et al., 1998).As an action research approach, it entails researchers facilitating a process whereby a designated study population is viewed as co-researchers and guided through a process including training in ethics and safety ...

  23. Patient safety in remote primary care encounters: multimethod

    Background Triage and clinical consultations increasingly occur remotely. We aimed to learn why safety incidents occur in remote encounters and how to prevent them. Setting and sample UK primary care. 95 safety incidents (complaints, settled indemnity claims and reports) involving remote interactions. Separately, 12 general practices followed 2021-2023. Methods Multimethod qualitative study ...

  24. Top 10 Qualitative Research Report Templates with Samples and Examples

    Template 9 : Swot Analysis of Qualitative Research Approach. Use this PowerPoint set to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your company. Each slide comes with a unique tool that may be utilized to strengthen your areas of weakness, grasp opportunities, and lessen risks.