You are here

Doing Qualitative Research

Doing Qualitative Research

Fifth Edition
  • David Silverman - Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney and King’s College, London, Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths’ College and Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology
Additional resources:

January 2018 | 592 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Accessible, practical, and featuring indispensable advice, this best-selling textbook is the perfect hands-on guide for those embarking on their own research. With expert advice from the author and real-life experiences from students, this book shows readers how to go from the ideas of research to the practicalities of designing, conducting, and writing about research.

Packed with tips for success from author David Silverman and dynamic digital resources, this book secures its place as the "take this everywhere" textbook that supports readers both in the classroom and in the field, providing access via tablet/phone/laptop for easy access to:
  • A ready-made bibliography of qualitative research contained in SAGE journal articles curated by the author, to enrich reading and offer top research articles to cite
  • Definitions to explain key concepts and methods to deepen understanding of what is discussed in the text
  • David's quick, practical video tips and instructional guidance for when students are in the field (or preparing to go into it). David steps in as an instant supervisor to give encouragement and avoid common pitfalls
  • An abundance of online resources and web links chosen by the author offering expert guidance on how to do research and do it better. These include research websites and resources as well as insider guides from trusted experts, links to organizations/software, and online text/articles
  • Datasets providing readers with research data on which to practice organizing, analyzing, and drawing conclusions
  • "Cheat sheets" and reflective trackers readers can use to monitor their progress and plan and manage projects

Part One: Introduction
Chapter 1: How To Use This Book
Chapter 2: What You Can (and Can’t) Do with Qualitative Research
Why Do Researchers Use Qualitative Methods?  
Are Qualitative Methods Always Appropriate?  
Should You Use Qualitative Methods?  
Chapter 3: Focusing a Research Project
Moira’s Research Diary  
Sally’s Research Diary  
Simon’s Research Diary  
Part Two: Starting Out and Project Foundations
Chapter 4: Ethical Research
The Standards of Ethical Research  
Why Ethics Matter for Your Research  
Ethical Guidelines in Practice  
Complex Ethical Issues  
Research Governance  
Managing Unfolding Ethical Demands  
Chapter 5: What Counts as ‘Originality’?
Being a Professional  
Independent Critical Thought  
Chapter 6: Research Design
The Internet  
Audio Data  
Visual Data  
Mixed Methods  
Chapter 7: Using Theories
How Theoretical Models Shape Research  
The Different Languages of Qualitative Research  
Theories, Models and Hypotheses  
Chapter 8: Formulating a Research Question
Some Cautions  
Chapter 9: Choosing a Methodology
Qualitative or Quantitative?  
Your Research Strategy  
Choosing a Methodology: a Case Study  
Naturally Occurring Data?  
Mixed Methods?  
Chapter 10: Writing a Research Proposal
Aim for Crystal Clarity  
Plan Before You Write  
Be Persuasive  
Be Practical  
Make Broader Links  
A Caution: Misunderstanding Qualitative Research?  
Part Three: Getting Support
Making Good Use of Your Supervisor
Supervision Horror Stories  
Student and Supervisor Expectations  
The Early Stages  
The Later Stages  
Standards of Good Practice  
Chapter 12: Getting Feedback
The Art of Presenting Research  
Feedback from the People You Study  
Part Four: Collecting and Analysing Data
Chapter 13: How many cases do you need?
What is a case study?  
The Quantitative Model of Generalization  
The Rationale of Case Study Design  
Case study Research in Practice  
Chapter 14: Collecting Your Data
Collecting Interview Data  
Collecting Focus Group Data  
Collecting Ethnographic Data  
Collecting Internet Data  
Chapter 15: Developing Data Analysis
Kick-Starting Data Analysis  
A Case Study  
Visual Data  
Chapter 16: Using Computers to Analyse Qualitative Data
A note on learning to use QDA software  
What QDA software can do for you  
Advantages of QDA software  
Text analytics  
Chapter 17: Quality in Qualitative Research
Chapter 18: Evaluating Qualitative Research
Two Guides for Evaluating Research  
Four Quality Criteria  
Applying Quality Criteria  
Four Quality Issues Revisited  
Chapter 19: Effective Qualitative Research
Keep It Simple  
Do Not Assume That We Are Only Concerned with Subjective Experience  
Take Advantage of Using Qualitative Data  
Avoid Drowning in Data  
Avoid Journalism  
Part Five: Writing Up Your Research
Chapter 20: Audiences
The Policy-Making Audience  
The Practitioner Audience  
The Lay Audience  
Chapter 21: The First Few Pages
The Title  
The Abstract  
The Table of Contents  
Chapter 22: The Literature Review Chapter
Recording Your Reading  
Writing your Literature Review  
Practical Questions  
Do You Need a Literature Review Chapter?  
Chapter 23: The Methodology Chapter
What Should the Methodology Chapter Contain?  
A Natural History Chapter?  
Chapter 24: The Data Chapters
The Macrostructure  
The Microstructure  
Tightening Up  
Chapter 25: The Concluding Chapter  
The Concluding Chapter as Mutual Stimulation  
What Exactly Should Your Concluding Chapter Contain?  
Confessions and Trumpets  
Theorizing as Thinking Through Data  
Writing for Audiences  
Why Your Concluding Chapter can be Fun  
Part Six: The Aftermath
Chapter 26: Surviving an Oral Examination
Viva Horror Stories  
Preparing for Your Oral  
Doing the Oral  
Revising Your Thesis after the Oral  
A Case Study  
Chapter 27: Getting Published
The Backstage Politics of Publishing  
Strategic Choices
What Journals are Looking For  
Reviewers’ Comments  
How to Write a Short Journal Article  

Whether you are a scared neophyte research student or a more experienced qualitative researcher this is an excellent and invaluable and most importantly accessible text that will open the lid of a treasure box of resources. You need this book.

Thérèse A.G. Lewis
Senior Lecturer in Research Methodology, Northumbria University

In principle it is impossible to write a method book that will be valid forever. In practice, David Silverman did just that. Adjustments in new editions only fine-tune the text that contains everything that a qualitative researcher needs to know. 

Barbara Czarniawska
Senior Professor of Management Studies, University of Gothenburg

This is an excellent textbook that gives students very practical advice of how to conduct qualitative analysis in a thoughtful way. Silverman's vast experience within qualitative methods gives the text a clarity and overview that one can only admire. 

Nanna Mik-Meyer
Organization, Copenhagen Business School

An essential guide for anyone new to or brushing up on qualitative methodology. This clear, student-centered guide offers first person insights and true-to-life stories that prepare readers for all of the surprises that await researchers in the field. From the ins and outs of designing a study to writing up and publishing analysis (and much more), this book is an accessible, soup-to-nuts account of a complex set of methods we call qualitative research.

Katie Headrick Taylor
College of Education, University of Washington

David Silverman has updated this now classic text on qualitative research methods. The resulting 5th edition has further simplified the format and improved the accessibliity to students from a wide range of experience and knowledge of qualitative research methods. Over the many years we have used this text on our postgraduate methods courses, students have found it to be comprehensive and useful whatever stage of their degree, and particularly helpful for those students with little prior knowledge of qualitative research. Even for experienced researchers Silverman provides an invaluable handbook for easy reference.

Dr Amanda Bingley
Institute of Health Research, Lancaster University
September 26, 2017
Key features
  • Fully interactive digital field guide including video tutorials and real data to practice with
  • An improved structure that takes readers step-by-step form start to finish
  • An overview and practical guidance on mixed methods and working with different kinds of data

Preview this book

For instructors

Review and Desk copies for this title are available digitally via VitalSource.

Request e-review copy

If you require a print review copy, please call: (800) 818-7243 ext. 6140 or email

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from

ISBN: 9781473966994

ISBN: 9781473966987