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Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation, 4th Edition by Elizabeth J. Tisdell, Sharan B. Merriam

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Chapter TenWriting Up Qualitative Research

For most practitioners, doing research means designing a study that addresses some problem arising from practice, collecting and analyzing data relevant to the problem, and finally, interpreting the results. Often neglected—especially by graduate students who do much of the research in applied fields such as education, health care, social work, management, and so on—is the important step of reporting and disseminating results. The research is of little consequence if no one knows about it; other practitioners have no way to benefit from what the researcher learned in doing the study. For qualitative research in particular, being in the field collecting data is engaging and exciting; so is analyzing your data as you try to answer your questions. By contrast, sitting down and writing up your findings is not immediately rewarding, so it requires an incredible amount of discipline.

Several factors contribute to making this stage of the research process particularly daunting. First, because data collection and analysis is continuous and simultaneous in qualitative research, there is no clean cutoff—no time when everything else stops and writing begins. Second, a great amount of qualitative data must be sorted through, selected, and woven into a coherent narrative. Finally, there is no standard format for reporting such data. Over 40 years ago Lofland (1974) commented on the lack of consensus: “Qualitative field research seems distinct in ...

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