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Thinking Qualitatively

Thinking Qualitatively
Methods of Mind

September 2014 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Written in Johnny Saldaña's elegant and accessible style, Thinking Qualitatively: Methods of Mind boldly pursues the challenge of teaching students not just how to collect and analyze data, but how to actively think about them. Each chapter presents one “method of mind” (thinking analytically, realistically, symbolically, ethically, multidisciplinarily, artistically, summarily, interpretively, and narratively), together with applications, a vignette or story related to the thinking modality, points to remember, and exercises. Designed to help researchers “rise above the data,” the book explores how qualitative research designs, data collection, data analyses, and write-ups can be enriched through over 60 different lenses, filters, and angles on social life. Venturing into more evocative and multidimensional ways to examine the complex patterns of daily living, the book reveals how the researcher's mind thinks heuristically to transcend the descriptive and develop "highdeep" insights about the human condition.

Click here for a listing of Johnny Saldaña's upcoming workshops.

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List of Displays
About the Author
1. Introduction: Thinking About Thinking
2. Thinking Analytically
3. Thinking Realistically
4. Thinking Symbolically
5. Thinking Ethically
6. Thinking Multidisciplinarily
7. Thinking Artistically
8. Thinking Summarily
9. Thinking Interpretively
10. Thinking Narratively
11. Closure: Thoughts about Thinking


Student Study Site
Use the Student Study Site to get the most out of your course!
Our Student Study Site at is completely open-access and offers a wide range of additional features, including something no other publisher offers: SAGE Journal articles!

The open-access
Student Study Site includes the following:
  • Mobile-friendly eFlashcards reinforce understanding of key terms and concepts that have been outlined in the chapters.
  • EXCLUSIVE! Access to certain full-text SAGE journal articles have been carefully selected for each chapter. Each article supports and expands on the concepts presented in the chapter. 

"This is book for all qualitative methodologists.  Not just a “how-to” manual but an epistemological exercise in understanding qualitative methods."

Cassie F. Quigley, Clemson University
Clemson University

"This book fills an important void in the field. The market is crowded with books on techniques and strategies for conducting qualitative research. Saldaña’s volume provides a vital complement by encouraging students to develop the core analytical skills and interpretive frames they need to be truly successful in their research endeavors. He helps students flex and hone the epistemological muscles that are at the center of capable qualitative research."

John P. Bartkowski, University of Texas at San Antonio
University of Texas at San Antonio

"The focus of the book is clear and consistent. The writing is superb. It deals with sophisticated ideas in a clear and highly communicative style. It weaves important and relevant scholarship in ways that help the reader grasp the key ideas.  It’s one of the best books I have read (and I have read hundreds…). I will recommend it to all my doctoral advisees, as well as to the students in my classes."

Liora Bresler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

"Thinking Qualitatively invites students to think before they act, and offers a rich set of options for qualitative researchers to consider."

Michael Brown, University of Wyoming
University of Wyoming

"This book  brings  together  key  ways  of  thinking  about  our  work  as  qualitative  researchers.  In  many  ways,  it  captures  the  breadth  and  depth  of  our  work,  while  calling  for  us  to  be  ever  reflexive  about  our  practices.  I  see  this  book  as  positively  informing  the  work  of  novice  and  experienced  researchers.  It  is  a  much  needed  addition  to  the  qualitative  research  community."

Jessica Nina Lester, Indiana University
Indiana University

Thinking Qualitatively offers many notable strengths for readers looking to discover creative approaches to qualitative inquiry, both including and beyond thinking poetically. Throughout the book, Saldaña provides detailed examples of qualitative reflection on interpersonal communication, paying strong attention to the nuances of these interactions. The exercises he includes at the end of each chapter create space for inquirers’ emotions as well as our thoughts—a unique feature of the text that makes it not only exciting but also deeply affirming.

Alexandra CH Nowakowski
The Qualitative Report

This is a well written and perfectly organised book that adresses fundamental aspects related to qualitative research. It deals with multiple study designs, but still manages to remain a clear focus on the key issue: the multiple ways in which we are thinking during analytical processes. Useful for students, teachers and researchers.

Professor Olaug S Lian
Department of Community Medicine , University of Tromso
October 23, 2023

Such an inspiring book about thinking, in so many modes. An essential book for those who wonder why we think like we do and where do theories come from? Dissertation students of all levels could benefit from this text.

Dr Jacqueline Hughes
Cardiff School of Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University
October 12, 2016

IIt offers a reach set of options for thinking qualitatively. Good ideas and very communicative style.

Dr Anna Vilanova
National Institute of Physical Education (INEFC), University of Barcelona
July 3, 2015

Comprehensive and informative text.

Miss Charlotte Brigden
Equine , Myerscough Colelge
June 25, 2015
Key features



  • Accessible and reader-friendly, the book appeals to both undergraduate and graduate students of qualitative inquiry and teaches them not just how to research, but how to think.
  • Research genres, such as grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography, case study, narrative inquiry, mixed methods, and arts-based research in education, the social sciences, and health care, are addressed.
  • Recent research is cited on how the brain works and how cognitive methods harmonize with the goals of qualitative inquiry.
  • Examples from actual research studies and everyday life help readers see “methods of mind” in action.
  • Each chapter concludes with a summary and Exercises for Thinking that encourage students to apply chapter concepts.
  • Approximately two dozen diagrams and photographs illustrate selected modes of thinking.
  • A glossary of key terms appears at the back of the book.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 4

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