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Building confidence in qualitative research: engaging the demands of policy

Torrance, Harry (2008) Building confidence in qualitative research: engaging the demands of policy. Qualitative inquiry, 14 (4). pp. 507-527. ISSN 1077-8004

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Abstract

The quality of qualitative research has been subject to considerable criticism recently, partly driven by the development of an international movement for "evidence-based policy and practice." In the United States, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are posited by some as the best way of producing reliable research knowledge. Also, responses to criticism of qualitative research is leading to the production of various "standards" and "guidelines" to control the production of qualitative research. This article argues that RCTs do not respond to policy makers' needs and timescales and, furthermore, that producing standards for qualitative research is more likely to restrict quality than enhance it. Rather, what is required of qualitative researchers is to engage with policy makers and research participants to acknowledge the limits of research knowledge while addressing issues of quality collaboratively.

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