Five Ways of Doing Qualitative Analysis

Phenomenological Psychology, Grounded Theory, Discourse Analysis, Narrative Research, and Intuitive Inquiry

Frederick J. Wertz, Kathy Charmaz, Linda M. McMullen, Ruthellen Josselson, Rosemarie Anderson, and Emalinda McSpadden

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434 Pages
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434 Pages
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“The authors strike a balance between providing a valuable beginner's resource and staying true to the critical spirit of a complex tradition....The opening history goes from strength to strength, making a case for the legitimacy of and precedent for qualitative methods. Continuing into a story of the development of different threads of qualitative work, the authors do an excellent job showing the emergence of different methodologies in response to particular questions and circumstances....The authors offer an abundance of resources in the forms of important citations, centers for qualitative research, and online resource banks....Provides good resources and concise examples of how different theoretical perspectives would shape a project, as well as showing in its structure and style the type of discourse that makes qualitative inquiry unique....An exemplary introduction to the field and should serve as a valued reference for years to come.”


“What was most illuminating was how each researcher offers reflective comments on one another's analysis of the data. These collegial meta-commentaries are perhaps the most unique and noteworthy feature of the entire project. These transparent assessments of one another's analysis offer the reader not just a comparison of five diverse modes of qualitative research but penetrating insights into the essence of qualitative research and the very meaning of qualitative psychology. There is no other text like this....Throughout the text we see Wertz, like a good committee chair, weaving between all five approaches, and sewing together a consensus....For advanced graduate students or seasoned professionals this material is an indispensable resource, especially for those who are seeking a qualitative method most appropriate to their research goals. There is no better book for understanding and promoting qualitative research as a general field of psychological inquiry....Serves as a virtual Rosetta stone that can bring together an unwieldly field perpetually under risk of fragmentation into a generative and disciplined research community....The style of mutual respect and careful engagement we witness in this collaborative project is itself exemplary of the attitude of scientific openness and collegiality that, more than anything will eventually transform psychology into the liberatory science it was always meant to be.”

Journal of Phenomenological Psychology

“Provides both novice and seasoned researchers with an engaging and active approach to many dimensions of qualitative research. Although one text cannot possibly be expected to address all of the demands of qualitative research….The six authors have achieved so much in this book that a thorough, but concise review is challenging, given that there is so much to recommend….The authors provide an excellent model for collaboration, one that is extremely reflexive, and which should be of interest to all, but may be of particular interest to graduate students and newer scholars who may assume that the processes of researching and writing are unproblematic and uneventful….The inclusion of The Teresa Texts provides readers with the opportunity to fully understand how researchers approach data, but would also provide students with the opportunity to undertake their own analyses and compare them to those shared by the first five authors….This is a dynamic and comprehensive text. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone who is at all interested in qualitative research and it promises to foster much dialogue among both teachers and students of qualitative methods.”

British Journal of Psychology

“A range of traditional and creative methods are described and, perhaps most significantly, the authors emphasize researcher subjectivity. They offer compelling reflexive examinations of their horizons and personal presences in the process of researcha bold move in tune with the spirit of the qualitative enterprise….The depth and breadth of the work of these visionaries is astonishing. Qualitative research has surely come of age….This is an extraordinary and challenging book. Its accessible writing style and provision of practical examples will appeal to those new to the field….The full data set and step-by-step guidance offered makes this a valuable resource. For experienced researchers, the book offers nuanced and penetrating glimpses into other methodological worlds not normally visited while its innovative comparative approach usefully challenges taken-for-granted understandings. The book provides both novice and expert privileged access to a series of inspirational, mutually respectful masterclasses on how to conduct meticulous in-depth analysis.”

The Humanistic Psychologist

“This is a courageous book, and its success is due precisely to the openness and audacity of its authors….This book is an extraordinarily valuable contribution to qualitative research pedagogy. The style of the book draws the reader into the material and makes the reader want to do some analysis of it oneself….The book could be used to provide master classes in textual analysis for students who already have some acquaintance with a few of the approaches dealt with in the book.”

The Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

“A text that simultaneously provides depth and breadth. Beginning with a discussion of how innovative and creative qualitative approaches led to the five methodologies examined, the authors provide valuable historical context….The first third of the book could stand alone as an introduction to the evolving history of qualitative research.…I can say without reservation that this is a text that I’ll continue to recommend and revisit.”

The Qualitative Report

“An extraordinary achievement. This is the book I will recommend to my quantitative colleagues when they ask, 'Just what is qualitative research?' Unlike other books that give steps for doing a qualitative study, Five Ways takes the reader into the thoughts and feelings involved in conducting research. The exciting, informative interactive discussions among the researchers and the participant provide unique insights. I will use Five Ways as the basic text in my qualitative courses.”

—Donald E. Polkinghorne, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Southern California

“Not only do the authors look at a common data set in five different ways, but they also reflect on how all five analyses look to each of them, and these explorations are 'looked back at' by the participant from whom the data set was derived. This book provides an engaging and intimate view of the many selves it takes to bring qualitative analyses into being and the reflexive practices that contribute to the scientific and ethical integrity of research.”

—Margarete Sandelowski, PhD, RN, FAAN, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“This unique work is a wholly absorbing adventure in comparative methodology. For the student, it will serve as an effective and informative introduction to a range of central qualitative methodologies. For the seasoned scholar, it provides a wonderfully nuanced view of the complex processes of decision making in qualitative inquiry. The book challenges us to grapple with major issues: the goals of our work, its functions in the social world, and its ethical implications. This is a landmark work in the development of qualitative inquiry.”

—Kenneth J. Gergen, PhD, Department of Psychology, Swarthmore College

“The logic of the book is transparent: it presents a narrative, multiple interpretations, and a comparison of the varied interpretations. The experience of walking through the various interpretations and then seeing how experts unpack the differences and similarities among them is remarkable. Although many books are written for introductory courses on qualitative methods, very few authors attend to how the structure of a text—not just its content—might be pedagogically significant. I applaud Wertz et al. for thinking explicitly and intentionally about how to conceptualize and organize their text in a way that facilitates learning.”

—Suzanne M. Wilson, PhD, Department of Teacher Education and Director, Center for the Scholarship of Teaching, Michigan State University

“This text addresses one of the most frequently asked questions in qualitative analysis: what is the difference between phenomenology, grounded theory, discourse analysis, narrative research, and intuitive inquiry? The authors explain the theory that underlies each approach and illustrate its application and the resultant findings, making the book a worthy text for a qualitative methods course. As an added bonus, the authors present the participant's reaction to the results of the five different analyses and discuss the ethical implications in terms of letting the participant speak for herself, issues of confidentiality, and tensions around interpretation of data. I would definitely use this book in my advanced qualitative research course.”

—Donna M. Mertens, PhD, Department of Educational Foundations and Research, Gallaudet University

“A powerful, richly nuanced, brilliantly innovative pedagogical intervention into the field of qualitative inquiry. This book is clearly written, grounded in case materials, and very accessible to students. The narrative is driven by the voices and insights of preeminent scholars, each an expert in one of five ways of doing qualitative analysis. This book represents the most innovative approach to date for teaching qualitative analysis. It will provide a starting place for the next generation of students who want to learn how to be well-grounded qualitative inquirers.”

—Norman K. Denzin, PhD, College of Communications Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign