Doing qualitative research

Professor Silverman’s reputation in the world of qualitative research precedes him and I am mindful of his status as I write this review. I am similarly mindful of Denzin’s equally eminent standing and note his positive review on the cover of this book in which he describes the content as ‘exceedingly thoughtful, practical and comprehensive ….’

Thus, on reading these comments, and as someone who teaches research at undergraduate and postgraduate level and who is always looking for texts that meet this criteria, I opened this book with relish. And it is all these things — a helpful, accessible guide to the novice, active researcher and a useful reference point for all involved in qualitative inquiry.

It ‘does what it says on the tin’ and there really is a ‘doing’ or step-by-step aspect to the book which is packed with useful information. I particularly liked part four on writing up and all associated with this testing process.

However, this book is not a general discussion of qualitative research; neither is it specific to nursing. This is not a problem as there is a number of qualitative nursing texts that do this to good effect and are discipline focused. I mention it because, for example, Silverman discusses reliability and validity with reference to credibility but less so trustworthiness and transferability that have been a key discussion point in relation to judging the merit of qualitative research in nursing. The same can be said of ontology and epistemology.

For me then it is more of a book about method and the mechanics of qualitative research than methodology. As such its strengths for nurse researchers are compatible with this emphasis and on this basis it has much to offer.

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