Qualitative research employs techniques such as direct and indirect observation, structured and unstructured interviews, and the review of secondary data. Following data collection, analysis generates themes and thematic relationships create models. Codebooks are also created to classify data and these make it easier to locate where themes have been lifted from. All these activities rely heavily on the researcher’s capacity to analyze and interpret. As opposed to quantitative data analysis wherein the certainty of conclusions is supported by the use of statistical methods, ensuring that researcher conclusions have an empirical basis rather than being mere subjective assumptions is a major challenge in qualitative research. Â
There are techniques used by researchers to ensure scientific rigor in qualitative research in the areas of credibility, transferability and dependability. Triangulation is one technique to ensure credibility. Methodological triangulation involves integrating quantitative methods with qualitative methods in the study to provide reinforcement for the findings.Â On the other hand, investigator triangulation means involving other researchers from the same discipline during the analytic phase. If they come up with similar findings then the certainty and credibility of conclusions is high. Dependability can also be injected into qualitative research through adequate documentation of how decisions were made in the course of the study relating to purpose of the research, sampling, and data collection, analysis and interpretation. This is called an audit trail which other researchers can utilize when conducting a similar study. Finally, transferability is achieved when researchers provide a comprehensive description of the setting and sample used in the study so that others can decide if the research results are applicable to their settings and patients.