Table 1

QD design issues as proposed by Sandelowski [1]

Qualitative Description Design Issues

Design issues

Design specifics


Pragmatic approach

Overtones of other qualitative approaches (phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography or a narrative study)


Purposeful sampling

Maximum variation sampling is especially pertinent

Data collection

Minimally-to-moderately structured open-ended interviews with individuals or focus groups

Researchers are interested in the Who, What, Where and Why of the experience

Observation of specific occurrences

Review of documents or other pertinent materials


Qualitative content analysis using modifiable coding systems that correspond to the data collected

When appropriate "Quasi-statistical" analysis methods are added using numbers to summarize data with descriptive statistics

Stay close to the data – low level interpretation (if using qualitative software such as NVivo, the use of "in vivo coding" procedures works well here)

Goal of the analysis strategy is to understand the latent variable (useful for concept clarification and instrument development)


Straight description of the data organized in a way that "fits" the data (chronologically by topic, by relevance etc.)

Neergaard et al. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2009 9:52   doi:10.1186/1471-2288-9-52

Open Data