Britten, Jones, Murphy & Stacy's Criteria

Britten, Jones, Murphy and Stacy provide the following guide for evaluating qualitative research:

  • What is the research about? 
    • What is the value and importance of the research being undertaken?
  • How clearly has the research question been formulated? 
    • The research question may not be formulated prior to doing field work, but by the time of writing the research report, the research question should be clear.
  • How appropriate are qualitative methods for this particular research question? 
    • Would it have been more appropriate to use different methods?
  • How generalizable are the results? 
    • Although qualitative research usually focuses on understanding a single setting or a small number of people, one cannot give up on developing a sampling strategy that would allow the researcher to consider the investigation's relevance in other settings.
  • What criteria were used in selecting the case(s) for the study? 
    • The report should make the rationale behind selection decisions clear and provide evidence to support the success of the strategy.
  • Is the methodology clear? 
    • Methods need to be clearly described and rationale for methodological choices provided (audit trail).  
    • There should be evidence that the researcher reflected on how the research process influenced the data collected (reflexivity).
  • How systematic was the approach to data analysis in the study? 
    • There is a need for a clear and concise description of how the data were analyzed as well as evidence of rigorous, systematic analysis that should include a search for disconfirming cases.
  • Is the analysis support by the data? 
    • There should be strong evidence in the data that support the conclusions being drawn by the researcher.  This includes:
      • how excerpts were chosen and if there are other data that make the same point. 
      • There should be enough information in the report to identify from whom (participant) the data were drawn (e.g. are excerpts from 1 respondent or 10 different respondents).
  • Are research processes and findings communicated clearly and succinctly?
  • What is the impact of the study? 
    • What is its practical and theoretical importance?
    • How does it contribute to the body of knowledge on the topic?
  • Is the research trustworthy? 
    • Do the descriptions seem faithful to the issue investigated?
    • Does the analysis have some face validity -- does it resonate with readers' and colleagues' experiences?


Britten, N., Jones, R., Murphy, E. & Stacy, R. (1995). "Qualitative research methods in general practice and primary care." Family Practice. 12(1), 104-114.

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