Chapter 6 Reporting Qualitative Research

Best practices for reporting differ between different types of research. For example, in most quantitative research, the employed statistical models usually require that sampling procedures are designed to sample randomly from the population, and accurate estimation with those statistical models usually requires considerable sample sizes. Because the sampling and measurement error can then be modelled, uncertainty can be estimated, which then enables reporting quantitative results in a transparent and integreous manner. In most qualitative research, on the other hand, sampling procedures are designed to optimize sample heterogeneity, data collection can be partly driven by the observations and is therefore less systematic, and the error in sampling and observation cannot be modeled.

Fundamental differences such as these have a number of implications for how research is reported. In this Chapter, we will list a number of best practices for reporting qualitative research, paying special attention to similarities and differences between qualitative and qualitative methods. Consistent with the Justify Everything principle, we will also provide justifications for these best practices. We will follow the conventional manuscript structure of introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Methods

6.2.1 Full Disclosure

This section includes the link to the repository containing the Full Disclosure package for this study. A Full Disclosure Package consists of a Replication Package and an Analysis Package.

The Replication Package commonly contains everything required for, or facilitating, replication of the study, such as the request for ethical approval and the confirmation letter granting ethical approval; the communication templates for communicating with participants; the recruitment protocols; the interview scheme or topic list; the protocols for support for participants and for interviewers, for studies where the interviews might touch upon sensitive topics; and the transcription procedures; the data management plans. The Replication Package should allow other researchers to replicate your data collection with minimal effort.

The Analysis Package commonly contains the (anonymized) raw data; the (anonymized) processed data; the documentation of the analysis steps and decisions taken; justifications of those decisions; and your results. The Analysis Package should allow other researchers to replicate your data analysis with minimal effort.

6.2.2 Materials

This section describes the used materials, such as the interview scheme or topic list; the communication templates for communicating with participants; the recruitment protocols; and the protocols for support for participants and for interviewers, for studies where the interviews might touch upon sensitive topics. In this section, also describe how data will be recorded.

6.2.3 Sampling strategy

In this section, describe the sample composition you aim to achieve, and how you operationalized these goals.

6.2.4 Analysis plan

Here, describe the analysis plan. This includes the type of coding (e.g. inductive, deductive, or a combination), how many coders will be involved and how the sources will be divided, etc etc etc

6.3 Results

6.3.1 Participants

In this section, describe the participants of the study. This ideally happens in a similar manner for quantitative and qualitative research. Where the Sampling Strategy section in the Methods section described the aims and strategies, this section describes the results of those efforts. Note that unless the study is a case study of one or more cases, the individuals are not the primary interest. Thereofore, this section should normally describe your sample, and not be a list of descriptions of each participant. To the degree that specific participant characteristics are important for contextualizing specific source fragments as described later on, list those characteristics at that point in the narrative - do not burden readers with mixing and matching throughout the manuscript. Note that more extensive descriptions can always be include in the repository accompaying the manuscript.

6.3.2 Background

In some cases it may be beneficial to start with a description of the context of the participants and data collection efforts. Such contextualisation may be important to properly interpret the results, even though the information itself may not pertain to the relevant research questions. Therefore, it can be useful to separate this description from the primary results.

6.3.3 Results

Then, describe the results.

6.4 Discussion

6.5 Reporting standards

One guideline for reporting qualitative research is formed by the consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ). This is available at https://academic.oup.com/intqhc/article/19/6/349/1791966.

The items are …