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Qualitative research needs to answer questions set by the researcher (there is no hypothesis). The intended aim(s) of the research should therefore be stated and the questions the research seeks to address should be identified. The problem which initiated the research should be clearly described early in the report (Ryan Wenger 1992). In order to evaluate the value of the research it is important for the hypothesis, aims and objectives to be clearly and unambiguously stated as too many questions may indicate that too much is being attempted (Parahoo and Reid 1988).

Research Design

“Designing and producing research is a complex activity” (Brockopp
& Hastings-Tolsma, 2003, p. 59). A well-thought-out design allows for assurance that the evidence has practicality.

Literature Review

A thorough literature review allows for credibility of the study. The literature review provides the foundation for the study’s significance and relationship to practice.
The literature review is generally summarised in the introductory section or under a specific heading such as a review of the literature (Polit and Hungler 1997).
Reference to original sources is important as information can be taken out of context and used inappropriately therefore an abundance of secondary sources should be viewed with caution as they may not provide sufficient detail or possibly distort some aspects of the original research (Polit and Hungler 1997; Burns and Grove 1993).
The purpose of the literature review is to discuss what is known, identify gaps in knowledge, establish the significance of the study and situate the study within the current body of knowledge (Polit and Hungler 1997). This is supported by Burns and Grove (2001), who consider the primary purpose of reviewing the literature is to gain a broad background or understanding of the available information related to the problem.
The researcher should also critically appraise and use the literature to inform their thinking and methodology (Polit and Hungler 1997).

The search should consider how the major variables were explored previously by critiquing the strengths and limitations of the methods used eg design, sample and instrument (Burns and Grove 2001).

The literature Review is Therefore carried Out after The data Have been collected. The aim of this approach is to explore concepts embedded in the data, thereby allowing theory to be generated from the data rather than vice versa (Robinson,2002)


The title does not validate or invalidate the research (Parahoo and Reid 1988).


Ryan Wenger (1992) notes the authors brief biographies may be important sources of information about academic degrees, certification, position and place of employment, from which clinical and research expertise can sometimes be discerned.

Research papers can be significantly delayed before publication. It is important to determine whether the paper has been developed from a recent piece of work in order to assess its relevance to inform current practice (Polit and Hungler 1997).



Both Minichiello et al (2004) and Polit and Hungler (1997) state that before a study can progress, the researcher will usually clarify and define the variables under investigation and specify how the variable will be observed and measured in the actual research situation. This is known as an operational definition (Minichiello et al 2004; Polit and Hungler 1997)


It is important for the researcher to justify the use of the selected instrument. The rationale may clearly state the advantages and disadvantages of using one tool rather than another and the literature search should also have commented on the use of particular instruments in previous studies (Polit and Hungler 1997).
The reliability and validity needs to be considered. Reliability refers to the degree of consistency or accuracy with which an instrument measures the attribute it has been designed to measure (Polit and Hungler 1997).
Reliability and validity of the instrument is usually determined in the pre test phase of the research known as a pilot study (Polit and Hungler 1997).

The paper should reveal the mechanism for arriving at the given sample
Eg random, stratified random, cluster. From a sampling point of view, each individual in the population should have an equal opportunity to be selected for the sample. The method which achieves this is random sampling (Burns and Grove 1993).
From a sampling point of view, each individual in the population should have an equal opportunity to be selected for the sample. The method which achieves this is random sampling (Burns and Grove 1993).
Stratified random sampling allows the random selection of subjects from two or more strata of the population independently (Polit and Hungler 1997; Burns and Grove 1993). Cluster sampling involves the selection of a large group or groups (eg a nursing school) with sub sampling on a smaller scale (eg nursing students) (Polit and Hungler 1997).

Most nursing research usually requires the permission of an appropriate ethics committee (Hamer and Collinson 1999). This may for example be attached to a health authority or to a university.
The committee may include clinicians, researchers, educators and lay people who devote a great deal of time and effort to protecting the rights of subjects under scrutiny by overseeing research proposals.


Qualitative data may be reported in a more discursive way and may include such features as actual quotes from interviews and discussions with focus groups (Burns and Grove 2001). The inclusion of quotes will be limited by the word count allowed by the particular journal publishing the research.


This section centres on the judgement of the reader in evaluating the worth of the article. It may be that some or all of the recommendations could be implemented in practice readily or may be cautiously taken up and piloted over a period of time.
An important point to remember is that the research does not necessarily prove a point and may only suggest a relationship or highlight an issue needing further investigation (Parahoo and Reid, 1988).


All major findings related to the original aims of the study are discussed in relation to whether the data supports or negates the hypothesis or research question/s (Parahoo and Reid 1988).

In the discussion the reader should be able to evaluate the research design and the overall merit of the study, its strengths and weaknesses.
Any significant weakness in either method or findings will seriously devalue the research itself.

Research papers conclude with a list including books, reports, other journal articles which have been used to support the concepts outlined. For those interested in pursuing additional reading on the topic, the reference list of a current study provides an excellent starting place (Polit and Hungler 1997).…...

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