Q: How is the conclusion drawn in qualitative research?

1 Answer to this question

Hello Bill – Welcome to the forum!

Straight away, when you say ‘how is the conclusion drawn,’ we trust it means ‘how you reach the conclusion’ rather than ‘how you write the conclusion.’

The first would depend on the findings of the study and how astutely you analyze them. This in turn would depend on how well you have designed the study, carefully inspected the results, and avoided bias to as much extent as possible. For insights into these aspects, you may refer to these resources:

The second meaning – that of ‘writing’ – is simpler, but of course, needs to come from the conclusion(s) you have drawn.

Having said that, the conclusion of a qualitative study can at times be quite detailed. This would depend on the complexity of the study. A questionnaire about likes and dislikes is simpler to score, interpret, and infer than a focus group, interview, or case study. In the case of a simpler study, you may reiterate the key findings of the study in the conclusion. In the case of a more complex study, which involves deeper analysis and may have some (if not significant) margin of error, you will also need to talk about the limitations and implications of the study.

The limitations may be in the area of methodology, participant response, or data collection. While you may have employed a methodology that seemed robust before starting the study, after the study, you may see opportunities for improvement, which you could include in the conclusion.

In quali research, it becomes especially important to talk about implications as you may not be able to draw some/any conclusions with a significant amount of surety. In these cases, you could talk about what the findings seem to suggest and what further studies they could lead to. Quali studies often tend to build on the previous one. [To see just how detailed the conclusion can get, you may refer to this part-documentation of a study.]

Finally, note that the conclusions are usually written in the Discussion section, but at times, can be a separate section (after the Discussion).

For more insights and information on writing the conclusion, you may refer to these resources:

Hope that helps. All the best for wrapping up – and then submitting – your paper!