May 2008

Grant Results


Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) created an online guide for researchers employing qualitative methods in health care research.

The site, Using Qualitative Methods in Healthcare Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Designing, Writing, Reviewing and Reporting Qualitative Research, is designed to inform visitors to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Web site.

It describes:

  • Common qualitative research paradigms, methods and analytical approaches.
  • Criteria to evaluate the quality of qualitative research.
  • Common pitfalls in qualitative research.
  • Guidelines for writing and reviewing qualitative studies.

RWJF Strategy
RWJF has created several Web products that provide guidance to current and prospective grantees on evaluation and research topics such as surveys and the management of research. These products are available on the RWJF Web site. (See A Guide to Strengthening and Managing Research Grants.)

Key Conclusions
On the Web site, the researchers present a number of key conclusions, including:

  • Qualitative research emerges from a variety of research traditions or disciplines including:
    • Grounded theory.
    • Phenomenology.
    • Case studies.
    • Ethnography.
  • Efforts to develop a specific set of criteria that constitute good qualitative research are probably misguided. Because qualitative research has roots in various traditions, it is inadvisable to specify a single set of criteria.
  • Qualitative health care research has assimilated its methods and analytical techniques into those used in quantitative studies. This is partly because funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health give priority to quantitative approaches.

Key Recommendations
Methods of data collection and methods of analysis are linked. Therefore:

  • Researchers should ensure that their methods of analysis flow logically from the method by which they collect data. For example, researchers studying conversations often rely on verbatim recordings that then suggest particular types of analyses such as special transcriptions.
  • Proposal or report reviewers should use evaluative criteria that match the method and analytic approach the author uses or proposes to use.

RWJF supported this solicited project with a grant of $33,894 from September 2005 to September 2006.

After the Grant
An article describing the process for creating the guidelines is in press at the Annals of Family Medicine.

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Comprehensive Guide for Designing, Writing, Reviewing and Reporting Qualitative Research


Foundation of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (New Brunswick,  NJ)

  • Amount: $ 33,894
    Dates: September 2005 to September 2006
    ID#:  053512


Deborah J. Cohen, Ph.D.
(732) 743-3222

Web Site

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Report prepared by: Mary Nakashian
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Marian Bass
Program Officer: Laura C. Leviton