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Qualitative Research Methods

Qualitative Research Methods

Second Edition
Additional resources:

January 2020 | 376 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Practical and straightforward, this book is a multidisciplinary introduction to the process of planning, conducting and analysing qualitative research, from selecting appropriate methods to publishing your findings. Built around the authors’ Qualitative Research Cycle – consisting of the design, data collection and analytic cycles – this pragmatic guide clearly demonstrates the steps you need to take to ensure your research is rigorous and robust.

Drawing on decades of experience teaching workshops, the book is packed with techniques and tools to help you turn theory and method into research practice. This second edition:

  • Showcases the importance of linking research design to data analysis, helping you avoid potential pitfalls and get the most out of your data
  • Highlights the relevance and wide application of qualitative methods with an array of international examples of real field research and interdisciplinary case studies
  • Gives clear guidance on writing qualitative research, including how to respond to critiques of qualitative methods
  • Has a renewed focus on evaluating quality in qualitative research, ensuring your work is valid, reflexive and ethical

Offering tried and tested research tools like interview guides that you can apply to your own projects and supported by online resources including checklists and reflective questions, this book is the perfect companion for anyone looking to complete a successful project using qualitative research methods.

Chapter 1: Introduction to the book
Who is this book for?

The qualitative research cycle

Structure of the book

Features of this book

Chapter 2: The nature of qualitative research
What is qualitative research?

When to conduct qualitative research

The underlying interpretive paradigm

Qualitative and quantitative research

Verstehen and understanding

The emic and etic perspectives

Subjectivity and the need for reflexivity

Our approach to qualitative research

Evaluating quality

Part I: The design cycle
Chapter 3: The design cycle
Formulating qualitative research questions

Incorporating literature and theory

Developing a conceptual framework

Selecting qualitative research methods

Evaluating quality

Chapter 4: Designing participatory research
Our participatory approach to qualitative research

The participatory design cycle

The participatory approach in data collection and analysis

Different roles of the researcher

Evaluating quality

Chapter 5: Ethical issues in qualitative research
What is ethics?

Ethics in qualitative research

Ethical issues in the design cycle

Ethical issues in the data collection cycle

Ethical issues in the analytic cycle

Evaluating quality

Part II: The data collection cycle
Chapter 6: Sampling and participant recruitment
What is purposive sampling?

Purposive sampling process?

Participant recruitment strategies

How many participants? The principle of saturation

Evaluating quality

Chapter 7: In-depth interviews
What is an in-depth interview?

When to use in-depth interviews

Purpose of an in-depth interview

The cyclical nature of data collection

Developing an interview guide

Preparing for data collection

Conducting the interview: skills of the interviewer

Strengths and limitations

Evaluating quality

Chapter 8: Focus group discussions
What is a focus group discussion?

When to use focus group discussions

The cyclical nature of data collection

Developing the discussion guide

Preparing for data collection

Conducting focus group discussions

Post-discussion information

Virtual focus groups

Strengths and limitations

Evaluating quality

Chapter 9: Observation
What is observation?

When to conduct observation

The cyclical nature of data collection

What to observe

Types of observation

Preparation and conducting an observation

Writing an observation

Strengths and limitations

Evaluating quality

Part III: The analytic cycle
Chapter 10: Data preparation and developing codes
Different approaches to textual data analysis

The nature of qualitative data analysis

Textual data preparation

Developing codes

Making a codebook

Coding data

Using software in qualitative analysis

Evaluating quality

Writing the manuscript or report

Chapter 11: Textual data analysis
After you write

Developing an analysis plan

Searching data

The cyclical process of analysis



Categorizing and conceptualizing

Theory development

Evaluating quality

Chapter 12: From analysis to participatory action
From analysis to participatory action

The overall participatory qualitative research cycle

The different roles of the researcher

Evaluating quality

Chapter 13: Academic writing of qualitative research
Writing qualitative research

Before you write

Writing a qualitative research article

After you write

Responding to critiques of qualitative research

Evaluating quality

Post Script: Assessing quality in the qualitative research cycle

This introductory textbook presents a useful framework of three interconnected cycles – the design cycle, the data collection cycle and the analytic cycle – to guide students through the process of conducting qualitative research. Engaging examples illustrate each step from start to completion.

Lena Jaspersen
Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds

Hennink, Hutter and Bailey provide a highly practical overview of all stages in the qualitative research process, linking clearly the cycles of design, data collection and data analysis. Excellent case studies illustrate qualitative research in practice. The authors’ clarity and coherence throughout the text makes this book a valuable read for all qualitative researchers.

Geraldine Foley, PhD
Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin

Written from a situated epistemological perspective, this handbook nicely blends theory with method and method with practical examples. A valuable guide for early career researchers in need of clear and simple answers to deal with complex phenomena and common critiques.

Karin Hannes
Professor in Qualitative Research Methodology and head of the Social Research Methodology Group, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven

It might be valuable for any analysis done douring the class.

Dr Daria Sarti
Management, University of Florence
March 28, 2023

I have used it as the main textbook which offers an outstanding understanding of qualitative research with easy to follow and ample examples from the field.

Dr Basak Bilecen
Department of Sociology, Groningen University (RuG)
June 21, 2021

This is essential for degree students who are focusing on a qualitative research project.

Mrs Chrissie Draper
Educational Psychology, Derby College
March 19, 2021

Excellent guide for students choosing to undertake qualitative research.

Mrs Sian Pitson
Swansea Business School (Swansea), University of Wales, Trinity St David
July 8, 2020

a useful and contemporary guide to qualitative research that will be appropriate to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Mr Ian Andrew
Business School, Oxford Brookes University
July 12, 2020

It is always good to get an update to a book and this update is welcome ten years after the first edition.

I like to direct student to books that are readable and add value to their own learning, irrespective of their learning style. I think this book will appeal to a wide audience.

For me, take the time to also access the online resources, do not just use the book. Start at the glossary flash cards, a good place to help with some tricky terminology for people new to research.

Use book and online resources to get the most out of this publication

Mrs Christina Dodds
Faculty of Health, Social Work & Educ, Northumbria University
July 16, 2020

This is a very good resource

Mrs Josephine D Morris
Interdiscipline, Winchester University
December 9, 2020

Sample Materials & Chapters


Monique Hennink

Dr. Monique Hennink is an associate professor of global health at Emory University. She has particular expertise in applying qualitative methods to public health research. She has authored five textbooks on qualitative research and developed the “QUAL-WORKS” training program for public health professionals. Her research focuses on behavioral aspects of public health issues by understanding the social, cultural, and contextual influences on behavior in order to develop effective health interventions. Her research focuses primarily on sexual and reproductive health, sanitation behavior, chronic disease management, women’s empowerment, and... More About Author

Inge Hutter

Ajay Bailey