You are here

Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods

Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods
Integrating Theory and Practice

Fourth Edition

November 2014 | 832 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Drawing on more than 40 years of experience conducting applied social science research and program evaluation, author Michael Quinn Patton has crafted the most comprehensive and systematic book on qualitative research and evaluation methods, inquiry frameworks, and analysis options available today. Now offering more balance between applied research and evaluation, this Fourth Edition illuminates all aspects of qualitative inquiry through new examples, stories, and cartoons; more than a hundred new summarizing and synthesizing exhibits; and a wide range of new highlight sections/sidebars that elaborate on important and emergent issues. For the first time, full case studies are included to illustrate extended research and evaluation examples. In addition, each chapter features an extended "rumination," written in a voice and style more emphatic and engaging than traditional textbook style, about a core issue of persistent debate and controversy.

Part 1. Framing Qualitative Inquiry: Theory Informs Practice, Practice Informs Theory
Chapter 1. The Nature, Niche, and Value of Qualitative Inquiry
Module 1. How qualitative inquiry contributes to our understanding of the world

Module 2. What makes qualitative data qualitative

Module 3. Making methods decisions

Module 4. The fruit of qualitative methods: Chapter summary and conclusion

Chapter 2. Strategic Themes in Qualitative Inquiry
Module 5. Strategic design principles for qualitative inquiry

Module 6. Strategic principles guiding data collection and fieldwork

Module 7. Strategic principles for qualitative analysis and reporting findings

Module 8: Integrating the 12 strategic qualitative principles in practice

Chapter 3. Variety of Qualitative Inquiry Frameworks: Paradigmatic, Philosophical, and Theoretical Orientations
Module 9. Understanding the Paradigms Debate: Quants versus Quals

Module 10. Introduction to Qualitative Inquiry Frameworks

Module 11. Ethnography and Autoethnography

Module 12. Positivism, Postpositivism, Empiricism and Foundationalist Epistemologies

Module 13. Grounded Theory and Realism

Module 14 Phenomenology and Heuristic Inquiry

Module 15 Social Constructionism, Constructivism, Postmodernism, and Narrative Inquiry

Module 16. Ethnomethodology, Semiotics, and Symbolic Interaction, Hermeneutics and Ecological Psychology

Module 17 Systems Theory and Complexity Theory

Module 18. Pragmatism, Generic Qualitative Inquiry, and Utilization-Focused Evaluation

Module 19 Patterns and themes across inquiry frameworks: Chapter summary and conclusions

Chapter 4. Practical and Actionable Qualitative Applications
Module 20. Practical purposes, concrete questions, and actionable answers: Illuminating and enhancing quality

Module 21. Program evaluation applications: Focus on outcomes

Module 22 Specialized qualitative evaluation applications

Module 23 Evaluating program models and theories of change, and evaluation models especially aligned with qualitative methods

Module 24 Interactive and participatory qualitative applications

Module 25 Democratic evaluation, indigenous research and evaluation, capacity building, and cultural competence

Module 26 Special methodological applications

Module 27 A vision of the utility of qualitative methods: Chapter summary and conclusion

Part 2. Qualitative Designs and Data Collection
Chapter 5. Designing Qualitative Studies
Module 28 Design thinking: Questions derive from purpose, design answers questions

Module 29 Date Collection Decisions

Module 30 Purposeful sampling and case selection: Overview of strategies and options

Module 31 Single-significant-case sampling as a design strategy

Module 32 Comparison-focused sampling options

Module 33 Group characteristics sampling strategies and options

Module 34 Concept and theoretical sampling strategies and options

Module 35. Instrumental-use multiple-case sampling

Module 36 Sequential and emergence-driven sampling strategies and options

Module 37 Analytically focused sampling

Module 38 Mixed, stratified, and nested purposeful sampling strategies

Module 39 Information-rich cases

Module 40 Sample size for qualitative designs

Module 41 Mixed methods designs

Module 42 Qualitative design chapter summary and conclusion: Methods choices and decisions

Chapter 6. Fieldwork Strategies and Observation Methods
Module 43 The Power of direct observation

Module 44. Variations in observational methods

Module 45. Variations in duration of observations and site visits: From rapid reconnaissance to longitudinal studies over years

Module 46. Variations in observational focus and summary of dimensions along which fieldwork varies

Module 47. What to observe: Sensitizing concepts

Module 48. Integrating what to observe with how to observe

Module 49. Unobtrusive observations and indicators, and documents and archival fieldwork

Module 50. Observing oneself: Reflexivity and Creativity, and Review of Fieldwork Dimensions

Module 51. Doing Fieldwork: The Data Gathering Process

Module 52. Stages of fieldwork: Entry into the field

Module 53. Routinization of fieldwork: The dynamics of the second stage

Module 54. Bringing fieldwork to a close

Module 55. The observer and what is observed: Unity, separation, and reactivity

Module 56. Chapter summary and conclusion: Guidelines for fieldwork

Chapter 7. Qualitative Interviewing
Module 57 The Interview Society: Diversity of applications

Module 58 Distinguishing interview approaches and types of interviews

Module 59 Question options and skilled question formulation

Module 60 Rapport, neutrality, and the interview relationship

Module 61 Interviewing groups and cross-cultural interviewing

Module 62. Creative modes of qualitative inquiry

Module 63. Ethical issues and challenges in qualitative interviewing

Module 64. Personal reflections on interviewing, and chapter summary and conclusion

Part 3. Analysis, Interpretation, and Reporting
Chapter 8. Qualitative Analysis and Interpretation
Module 65. Setting the Context for Qualitative Analysis: Challenge, Purpose, and Focus

Module 66. Thick description and case studies: The bedrock of qualitative analysis

Module 67. Qualitative Analysis Approaches: Identifying Patterns and Themes

Module 68. The intellectual and operational work of analysis

Module 69. Logical and matrix analyses, and synthesizing qualitative studies

Module 70. Interpreting findings, determining substantive significance, phenomenological essence, and hermeneutic interpretation

Module 71. Causal explanation thorough qualitative analysis

Module 72. New analysis directions: Contribution analysis, participatory analysis, and qualitative counterfactuals

Module 73. Writing up and reporting findings, including using visuals

Module 74. Special analysis and reporting issues: Mixed methods, focused communications, and principles-focused report exemplar.

Module 75 Chapter summary and conclusion, plus case study exhibits

Chapter 9. Enhancing the Quality and Credibility of Qualitative Studies
Module 76. Analytical processes for enhancing credibility: systematically engaging and questioning the data

Module 77. Four triangulation processes for enhancing credibility

Module 78. Alternative and competing criteria for judging the quality of qualitative inquiries: Part 1, universal criteria, and traditional scientific research versus constructivist criteria

Module 79. Alternative and competing criteria, Part 2: artistic, participatory, critical change, systems, pragmatic, and mixed criteria

Module 80 Credibility of the inquirer

Module 81 Generalizations, Extrapolations, Transferability, Principles, and Lessons learned

Module 82 Enhancing the credibility and utility of qualitative inquiry by addressing philosophy of science issues



Student Study Site
EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles that have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. This feature also provides questions to focus and guide your interpretation. 

"Very thoughtful and thorough coverage of qualitative design and study."

Kari O'Grady Ph.D, Loyola University Maryland

 “The content itself, based in years of thinking, reading, doing, conversing, is a huge strength. Reading the chapters is like sitting at the feet of one of the masters.” 

Kathleen A. Bolland, The University of Alabama

“I can’t emphasize enough the quality, detail, and depth of the presentation of research design and methods… Students and experienced researchers will appreciate the depth of presentation of potential qualitative paradigms, theoretical orientations and frameworks as well as special methodological applications that are often not covered in other qualitative texts.”

Susan S. Manning, University of Denver

“It is refreshing to see a text that engages the multiple philosophical and historical trajectories within a qualitative research tradition while integrating this discussion so well with the practice of research design, fieldwork strategies, and data analysis.”

Michael P. O’Malley, Texas State University

I have used Patton for this course historically; I will continue to use him for this course. I have used previous editions as well.

Adah Ward-Randolph
Education Studies Dept, Ohio University
December 30, 2021

Great book - not currently teaching a course in evaluation - will definitely consider this text when I do next teach such a course.

Dr John Donohue
Psychology, University Of Ottawa
October 27, 2015

Mae’r llyfr yma yn wych, yn enwedig y bennod ar fframweithiau damcaniaethol ac athroniaeth. Rwyf wedi ei argymell i nifer o fyfyrwyr ôl-radd sydd wrthi’n cynllunio traethodau hir - trwy gwrs ‘Yr ymchwilydd ansoddol’ y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (CCC) a hefyd myfyrwyr Bangor (Cymraeg a Saesneg ei hiaith). Rwyf hefyd wedi gofyn i’r llyfrgellydd gwyddorau cymdeithasol archebu un neu ddau o gopïau i’r llyfrgell.

Dr Sara Louise Wheeler
School Of Social Sciences, Bangor University
July 20, 2015

Adopted Creswell 3rd ed (Sage)

Dr Peter Sayer
Bicultural Bilingual Stds Div, University Of Texas
May 29, 2015

Good resource for students looking to develop their qualitative research skills.

Saran Donahoo
Educational Admin Dept, Southern Illinois University
May 12, 2015

Will use as a secondary text in the Qualitative Research Methods course I teach

Dr Carolyn Graff
College Of Nursing, Univ Of Tenn-Hlth Sci Ctr
May 3, 2015

Sample Materials & Chapters

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 9

Michael Quinn Patton

Michael Quinn Patton is author of more than a dozen books on evaluation including Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods, 4th ed (2015), Blue Marble Evaluation (2020), Principles-Focused Evaluation (2018), Facilitating Evaluation (2018) and Developmental Evaluation (2011). Based in Minnesota, he was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota for 18 years and is a former president of the American Evaluation Association (AEA). Michael is a recipient of the Alva and Gunnar Myrdal Evaluation Practice Award, the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award, and the Research on Evaluation Award, all from AEA He has also received the... More About Author

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412972123