Skip to Main Content

Qualitative Research Resources: Assessing Qualitative Research

Find sources of qualitative training & support at UNC. How to search for and evaluate qualitative research, integrate qualitative research into systematic reviews, report/publish qualitative research. Includes some Mixed Methods resources.

Created by Health Science Librarians

About this Page

Why is this information important?

  • Qualitative research typically focuses on collecting very detailed information on a few cases and often addresses meaning, rather than objectively identifiable factors.
  • This means that typical markers of research quality for quantitative studies, such as validity and reliability, cannot be used to assess qualitative research.

On this page you'll find:

The resources on this page will guide you to some of the alternative measures/tools you can use to assess qualitative research.

LEGEND (Let Evidence Guide Every New Decision) Assessment Tools: Cincinnati Children's Hospital

Evidence Evaluation Tools and Resources

This website has a number of resources for evaluating health sciences research across a variety of designs/study types, including an Evidence Appraisal form for qualitative research (in table), as well as forms for mixed methods studies from a variety of clinical question domains. The site includes information on the following:

EQUATOR Network: Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research

The EQUATOR Network is an ‘umbrella’ organisation that brings together researchers, medical journal editors, peer reviewers, developers of reporting guidelines, research funding bodies and other collaborators with mutual interest in improving the quality of research publications and of research itself. 

The EQUATOR Library contains a comprehensive searchable database of reporting guidelines for many study types--including qualitative--and also links to other resources relevant to research reporting:

  • Library for health research reporting:  provides an up-to-date collection of guidelines and policy documents related to health research reporting. These are aimed mainly at authors of research articles, journal editors, peer reviewers and reporting guideline developers.
  • Toolkits to support writing research, using guidelines, teaching research skills, selecting the appropriate reporting guideline
  • Courses and events
  • News
  • Blog
  • Librarian Network

Other Tools for Assessing Qualitative Research

Also see Articles box, below, some of which contain checklists or tools. 

Most checklists or tools are meant to help you think critically and systematically when appraising research.  Users should generally consult accompanying materials such as manuals, handbooks, and cited literature to use these tools appropriately.  Broad understanding of the variety and complexity of qualitative research is generally necessary, along with an understanding of the philosophical perspectives plus knowledge about specific qualitative research methods and their implementation.  


These articles address a range of issues related to understanding and evaluating qualitative research; some  include checklists or tools.

Clissett, P. (2008) "Evaluating Qualitative Research." Journal of Orthopaedic Nursing 12: 99-105.

Cohen, Deborah J. and Benjamin F. Crabtree. (2008) "Evidence for Qualitative Research in Health Care: Controversies and Recommendations." Annals of Family Medicine 6(4): 331-339.

Dixon-Woods, M.,  R.L. Shaw, S. Agarwal, and J.A. Smith. (2004) "The Problem of Appraising Qualitative Research." Qual Safe Health Care 13: 223-225.

Fossey, E., C. Harvey, F. McDermott, and L. Davidson. (2002) "Understanding and Evaluating Qualitative Research." Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 36(6): 717-732.

Hammarberg, K., M. Kirkman, S. de Lacey. (2016) "Qualitative Research Methods: When to Use and How to Judge them." Human Reproduction 31 (3): 498-501.

Lee, J. (2014) "Genre-Appropriate Judgments of Qualitative Research." Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44(3): 316-348. (This provides 3 strategies for evaluating qualitative research, 2 that the author is not crazy about and one that he considers more appropriate/accurate).

Majid, Umair and Vanstone,Meredith (2018). "Appraising Qualitative Research for Evidence Syntheses: A Compendium of Quality Appraisal Tools." Qualitative Health Research 28(13): 2115-2131.  PMID: 30047306 DOI: 10.1177/1049732318785358

Meyrick, Jane. (2006) "What is Good Qualitative Research? A First Step towards a Comprehensive Approach to Judging Rigour/Quality." Journal of Health Psychology 11(5): 799-808.

Miles, MB, AM Huberman, J Saldana. (2014) Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks, Califorinia, SAGE Publications, Inc. Chapter 11: Drawing and Verifying Conclusions. Check Availability of Print Book

Morse, JM. (1997) "Perfectly Healthy but Dead:"The Myth of Inter-Rater Reliability. Qualitative Health Research 7(4): 445-447.  

O’Brien BC, Harris IB, Beckman TJ, et al. (2014) Standards for reporting qualitative research: a synthesis of recommendations. Acad Med 89(9):1245–1251. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000388 PMID: 24979285

The Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research (SRQR) consists of 21 items. The authors define and explain key elements of each item and provide examples from recently published articles to illustrate ways in which the standards can be met. The SRQR aims to improve the transparency of all aspects of qualitative research by providing clear standards for reporting qualitative research. These standards will assist authors during manuscript preparation, editors and reviewers in evaluating a manuscript for potential publication, and readers when critically appraising, applying, and synthesizing study findings.

Ryan, Frances, Michael Coughlin, and Patricia Cronin. (2007) "Step by Step Guide to Critiquing Research: Part 2, Qualitative Research." British Journal of Nursing 16(12): 738-744.

Stige, B, K. Malterud, and T. Midtgarden. (2009) "Toward an Agenda for Evaluation of Qualitative Research." Qualitative Health Research 19(10): 1504-1516.

Tong, Allison and Mary Amanda Dew. (2016-EPub ahead of print). "Qualitative Research in Transplantation: Ensuring Relevance and Rigor." Transplantation 

Allison Tong, Peter Sainsbury, Jonathan Craig; Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, Volume 19, Issue 6, 1 December 2007, Pages 349–357,

The criteria included in COREQ, a 32-item checklist, can help researchers to report important aspects of the research team, study methods, context of the study, findings, analysis and interpretations. Items most frequently included in the checklists related to sampling method, setting for data collection, method of data collection, respondent validation of findings, method of recording data, description of the derivation of themes and inclusion of supporting quotations. We grouped all items into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting.

Tracy, Sarah (2010) “Qualitative Quality: Eight ‘Big-Tent’ Criteria for Excellent Qualitative Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 16(10):837-51