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Qualitative Research Resources: Writing Up Your 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?

  • The conventions of good writing and research reporting are different for qualitative and quantitative research.
  • Your article will be more likely to be published if you make sure you follow appropriate conventions in your writing.

On this page you will find the following helpful resources:

  • Articles with information on what journal editors look for in qualitative research articles.
  • Articles and books on the craft of collating qualitative data into a research article.

Writing Conventions for Qualitative Research

These articles provide tips on what journal editors look for when they read qualitative research papers for potential publication.  Also see Assessing Qualitative Research tab in this guide for additional information that may be helpful to authors.

Belgrave, L., D. Zablotsky and M.A. Guadagno.(2002). How do we talk to each other? Writing qualitative research for quantitative readers. Qualitative Health Research, 12(10),1427-1439.

Hunt, Brandon. (2011) Publishing Qualitative Research in Counseling Journals. Journal of Counseling and Development 89(3):296-300.

Fetters, Michael and Dawn Freshwater. (2015). Publishing a Methodological Mixed Methods Research Article. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 9(3): 203-213.

Koch, Lynn C., Tricia Niesz, and Henry McCarthy. (2014). Understanding and Reporting Qualitative Research: An Analytic Review and Recommendations for Submitting Authors. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin 57(3):131-143.

Morrow, Susan L. (2005) Quality and Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research in Counseling Psychology; Journal of Counseling Psychology 52(2):250-260.

Oliver, Deborah P. (2011) "Rigor in Qualitative Research." Research on Aging 33(4): 359-360.

Sandelowski, M., & Leeman, J. (2012). Writing usable qualitative health research findings. Qual Health Res, 22(10), 1404-1413.

Schoenberg, Nancy E., Miller, Edward A., and Pruchno, Rachel. (2011) The qualitative portfolio at The Gerontologist: strong and getting stronger. Gerontologist 51(3): 281-284.

Weaver-Hightower, M. B. (2019). How to write qualitative research. [e-book]

Sidhu, Kalwant, Roger Jones, and Fiona Stevenson (2017). Publishing qualitative research in medical journals. Br J Gen Pract ; 67 (658): 229-230. DOI: 10.3399/bjgp17X690821 PMID: 28450340

  • This article is based on a workshop on publishing qualitative studies held at the Society for Academic Primary Care Annual Conference, Dublin, July 2016.

Smith, Mary Lee.(1987) Publishing Qualitative Research. American Educational Research Journal 24(2): 173-183.

Tong, Allison, Sainsbury, Peter, Craig, Jonathan; 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,

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

Sample Size/Sampling:

Because reviewers are not always familiar with qualitative methods, they may ask for explanation or justification of your methods when you submit an article. Because different disciplines,different qualitative methods, and different contexts may dictate different approaches to this issue, you may want to consult articles in your field and in target journals for publication.  Additionally, here are some articles that may be helpful in thinking about this issue. 

Bonde, Donna. (2013). Qualitative Interviews: When Enough is Enough. Research by Design.

Guest, Greg, Arwen Bunce, and Laura Johnson. (2006) How Many Interviews are Enough?: An Experiment with Data Saturation and Variability. Field Methods 18(1): 59-82.

Morse, Janice M. (2015) "Data Were Saturated..." Qualitative Health Research 25(5): 587-88. doi:10.1177/1049732315576699.

Nelson, J. (2016) "Using Conceptual Depth Criteria: Addressing the Challenge of Reaching Saturation in Qualitative Research." Qualitative Research, December. doi:10.1177/1468794116679873.

Patton, Michael Quinn. (2015) "Chapter 5: Designing Qualitative Studies, Module 30 Purposeful Sampling and Case Selection. In Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods: Integrating Theory and Practice, Fourth edition, pp. 264-72. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc. ISBN: 978-1-4129-7212-3

Small, Mario Luis. (2009) 'How Many Cases Do I Need?': On Science and the Logic of Case-Based Selection in Field-Based Research. Ethnography 10(1): 538.


Search the UNC-CH catalog for books about qualitative writing. Selected general books from the catalog are listed below. If you are a researcher at another institution, ask your librarian for assistance locating similar books in your institution's catalog or ordering them via InterLibrary Loan.