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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 251-261

Study Design in Qualitative Research—1: Developing Questions and Assessing Resource Needs

1 Professor of Medicine and Community Medicine, Director, Primary Care Institute, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14620, USA
2 Research Fellow, Center for Organization and Delivery Studies, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD, USA

Correspondence Address:
Richard M Frankel
Department of Internal Medicine, Highland Hospital, 1000 SouthAvenue, Rochester, NY14620
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This is the second in a series of four papers on understanding and doing qualitative research [Frankel & Devers (2000) Qualitative research: a consumer's guide, Education for Health, 13, 113–123; Devers & Frankel (2000) Study design in qualitative research—2: sampling and data collection strategies, Education for Health, 13, 263–271]. Here, we focus on problems of study design, including question development, literature review, identifying a target audience and resource needs assessment. We provide a step-by-step description of major issues and choice points in the process. There are three key differences between qualitative and quantitative research designs. First, the logic of qualitative research is often inductive, rather than deductive, and consists of describing people's and groups' particular situations, meanings and experiences. Second, qualitative research designs are often emergent and exible, and the research itself is quite dynamic. Third, the qualitative research process is non-linear and non-sequential. There is agreement that good qualitative studies answer clearly stated, important research questions. How qualitative research questions are formulated has implications for conducting a literature review. Some scholars believe that literature should be reviewed prior to beginning a study; others argue that this may impede the researcher from truly listening, observing and remaining open to new concepts and ideas. We offer suggestions about formulating research questions and how and when to conduct a literature review. Another important issue in conducting qualitative research is determining the resources that will be needed to conduct a study. These include internal resources, such as research skills, and external resources, such as personnel (expertise and time), equipment, supplies and travel. A description of typical resource and management issues in conducting a qualitative research study is included.

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