International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, University of Alberta
International Journal of Qualitative Methods vol:14 issue:4 pages:1-16
Consolidating a standard for reporting qualitative research remains a challenging endeavor, given the variety of different paradigms that steer qualitative research as well as the broad range of designs, and techniques for data-collection and -analysis that one could opt for when conducting qualitative research.
A total of 18 experts in qualitative research participated in an Argument Delphi Approach to explore the arguments that would plead for or against the development and use of reporting guidelines (RGs) for qualitative research and to generate opinions on what may need to be considered in the further development of RGs for qualitative research.
The potential to increase quality and accountability of qualitative research was identified as one of the core benefits of RGs for different target groups, including students. Experts in our pilot study seem to resist a fixed, extensive list of criteria. They emphasize the importance of flexibility in developing and applying such criteria. Clear cut RGs may restrict the publication of reports on unusual, innovative or emerging research approaches.
RGs should not be used as a substitute of proper training in qualitative research methods and should not be applied rigidly. Experts feel more comfortable with RGs that allow for an adaptation of criteria, to create a better fit for purpose. The variety in viewpoints between experts for the majority of the topics will most likely complicate future consolidation processes.