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  1. Intellectual critique of a qualitative research study



    Using the “Guidelines for Identifying the Steps of the Qualitative Research Process” (Chapter 18 of your textbook, pg. 445), select a research study on a topic of your choice and provide an analysis of the study according to the guidelines in your text. Each step should be clearly labeled as headings and you need to support your claims with solid references. Include at least four (4) scholarly citations.



Subject Research Analysis Pages 8 Style APA


Critique of Qualitative Research Study

The qualitative research process is a process that is made up of systematic and organised steps that are to be followed by any researcher in order to obtain reliable data and draw logical conclusions. In medical practice, especially lately, there has been the continued ravage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Various qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method researches have been done to investigate various aspects of the virus and its impact on populations. This paper considers one such qualitative study by Sun and his colleagues who sought to find out the emotional and psychological toll felt by nurses who offered care to COVID-19 patients. The study made use of various steps of the research process starting from “locating and defining issues or problems, designing the research project, collecting data, Interpreting research data and reporting research findings” (Bispo, 2017, p. 158). The selected qualitative study meticulously made use of these steps in order to produce research findings that can be relied on and that can then form the increasing body of the evidence to be used in the medical practice and in the bid to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19.

Selected Study

Sun, N., Wei, L., Shi, S., Jiao, D., Song, R., Ma, L., Wang, H., Wang, C., Wang, Z., You, Y., Liu, S., & Wang, H. (2020). A qualitative study on the psychological experience of caregivers of COVID-19 patients. American journal of infection control, 48(6), 592–598. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2020.03.018

Step 1: Locating and Defining Issues or Problems

It has often been observed that any research or study ought to be specific on the issue or problem it aims to address. This is because topics are always broad and any research has to be specific on the particular issue that it intends to address and the thesis problem that it intends to cover. This is in accordance with defining the scope of the research and creating delimitations. This research drew the line on the particular issue or problem it intended to address. Having realized that the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus was taking a toll on the healthcare workers who worked as the primary caregivers for the patients, a need arose to address it. The study aimed at investigating the pressure and challenges that this brought to the nursing staff (Sun et al. 2020). Once the issue was located, it, therefore, became easy to formulate the research plan, identify the areas from which evidence would be drawn, locate the respondents and kick-start the study. With the definition of the problem, the study then delved into the mental health of nurses caring for COVID-19 patients. It is clear from the outset that there are several benefits to this definition of the problem. In the healthcare setting, there are several caregivers. Telling who would be the focus of an investigation then relies on the ability of the researchers to formulate research questions that respond to the targeted audience. The definition also provides the research with a focus, helping researchers not to digress and mix up issues in the course of the study (Bispo, 2017).

Step 2: Research Project Design

Here, the focus is on how the problem defined or the issue identified in step 1 is to be approached. This is what would be referred to as the framework for conducting the study. The purpose of this step is to provide procedures that are needed to “obtain the information required, design a study that would ultimately test the hypotheses suggested, offer possible answers to the research questions, and use the information obtained in the end for the purpose of decision-making” (Roller, 2019, p. 66). The design includes analysis of secondary data and determination of the method of data collection.

The cited study above settled on the phenomenological approach to complete the study (Sun et al. 2020). It was determined that for the study, interviews would be conducted orally with the sample selected. The structure of these interviews was predetermined, with the options of either face-to-face or telephone interviews. The study was determined to focus on the psychological impacts on the nurses selected for the study and identify some trends that could stand out. The sampling method was such that all the nurses dealt one on one with the care process for the patients that had COVID-19. The sample size was limited to twenty within one setting, which was a university hospital. The period of study was limited to between January 20 and February 10, 2020. With all these strategic planning methods and plans in mind, the study was ready to begin.

Step 3: Collecting Data

At the collection step, the emphasis is on the information and data that would be used to solve the issue. In the process of data collection, there may be a need to make use of staff in the field for collecting data through interviews or distributing questionnaires (Roller, 2019). The interviews may be using mobile phones, written interviews sent by mail, or simple telephones. The staff may also be needed to distribute and collect questionnaires either physically or through traditional mail. In studies of this nature, the conventional data collection techniques are interviews, observations, questionnaires, focus groups, documents, and records.

In this study, there arose a need for the use of staff by the researchers to collect the necessary data. The researchers settled on conducting interviews as the most appropriate method to collect the data that they needed (Sun et al. 2020). The interviews were to be conducted by the recruited staff on the team of the selected sample. The team determined that these interviews would be either face-to-face or through making calls. The study then, within the time frame specified in the research plan, had sit-downs with the nursing staff before and after their shifts caring for COVID-19 patients. In many ways, this method of data collection was the best bet. Having the interviews face-to-face offered the interviewers with the physical dimension, allowing them to not only gather the information as relayed by the interviewed nurses but also observe the physical toll that caring for the COVID-19 patients has had on the nurses themselves (Sun et al. 2020). Giving the interviews through the telephone also provided the researchers with the benefit of assessing the data while the respondents are away from the prying eyes of interviewers. This has the potential of providing confidential information because of partial anonymity. While deciding on the data collection method, the researchers also had to think of the manner in which these collected data would be stored.

Step 4: Interpreting Research Data

At this step, the data collected through the previous step is to be made meaning of (Roller, 2019). The data is examined and conclusions are reached on the solution of the problem. This starts by organizing the findings and information collected from step 3. During this step, a draft is made of the findings, recommendations, and conclusions. This process entails using the method of data analysis decided upon and utilizing it to come up with a solution to the problem. The rough drafts prepared at this stage helps in getting the thoughts organized in readiness for the next stage (Roller, 2019).

In the study cited, the interpretation of data focused on using the data collected from the interviews to make meaning and offer solutions to the problem identified. The findings of this study were analyzed through the framework developed by Colaizzi. This first entailed reading all the contents of the interview after a successful transcription (Kiger & Varpio, 2020). The next step was the extraction of significant statements which would be essential in determining the depth of the problem and the manner of solving it. The next one in these steps involved the formulation of meanings out of the extracted statements. This was vital because only meaningful information would be essential in offering a solution to the problem.

The next step involved the organization of the collection of meanings into clusters of themes (Kiger & Varpio, 2020). The clusters of them were then integrated into an exhaustion description. The researchers then identified the fundamental structure of the phenomenon and finally returned it to the participants for validation (Sun et al. 2020). These steps of analysis offered the researchers a fundamental framework through which the interview data could be exhaustively analyzed. The analysis was not only meaningful but also offered strategies for providing feedback to the researchers themselves and the respondents in the study.

Step 5: Reporting Research Findings

The role of any research is to provide answers to specific questions that may be essential for various groups in the decision-making process. This may entail the preparation of oral reports, written reports, and even a publication. The researchers have to take their findings and formally integrate them into a given document that communicates the findings in an organized way (Castleberry & Nolen, 2018).

In reporting the findings of this study, the researchers “summarized the psychological experience of the nurses caring for the COVID-19 patients into 4 themes” (Sun et al. 2020, p. 593). First, it was determined that at first, anxiety sets in for nurses based on what they feel like an overwhelming state both for the patients and their families. Second, the nurses then attempt to find ways of coping with the anxieties, depression, and stress. Third, the pressure hardened the nurses and coupled with what they felt was their professional calling and obligation, more embrace for the patients was evident. The final theme was the finding that “positive emotions occurred simultaneously with negative emotions” (Sun et al. 2020, p. 598). It was these findings that informed the eventual conclusions of the research that in the event of anxious moments, the nurses alternated between desirable and undesirable emotions. Earlier, the negative undesirable ones became predominant, but eventually, they were phased out when the desirable emotions set in. A positive outlook, personal drive, and desire are what maintained the mental health of nurses. After harnessing these findings and the research conclusion, the researchers then opted to present the findings and report them in form of a published article.

In conclusion, it is true that the qualitative research process is not haphazard. It is an organized process that makes use of the well-stipulated steps of problem definition, design of the research project, data collection, assigning meaning to the data collected, and presenting them in a formal sense. In order to reach valid and reliable findings, these processes have to be clearly spelled out within the study framework.


Bispo, M. D. S. (2017). Educating qualitative researchers in management: Toward performative judgements. Revista de Administração de Empresas, 57(2), 158-169.

Castleberry, A., & Nolen, A. (2018). Thematic analysis of qualitative research data: Is it as easy as it sounds?. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 10(6), 807-815.

Kiger, M. E., & Varpio, L. (2020). Thematic analysis of qualitative data: AMEE Guide No. 131. Medical teacher, 42(8), 846-854.

Roller, M. R. (2019, September). A quality approach to qualitative content analysis: Similarities and differences compared to other qualitative methods. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 20, No. 3).

Sun, N., Wei, L., Shi, S., Jiao, D., Song, R., Ma, L., Wang, H., Wang, C., Wang, Z., You, Y., Liu, S., & Wang, H. (2020). A qualitative study on the psychological experience of caregivers of COVID-19 patients. American journal of infection control, 48(6), 592–598. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2020.03.018


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