Giacomini & Cook's Evaluative Criteria

To judge the methodological rigor of qualitative research, Giacomini and Cook suggest that you need to evalute the study's design and the researchers' approach to analysis.

  • Was the study designed to address its research question or objectives?  Was the design rigorous enough to achieve empirical aims?
  • Were the participants selected relevant to the research question and was the selection and sampling process well reasoned, justifed and articulated?
  • Were data collection methods appropriate for the research objectives and the setting under investigation?  Were data collection choices reasonable and well justified. 
  • Was the data collected comprehensive enough to support rich and robust descriptions of the observed events?  This involves both thorough (in depth) examination of a social setting as well as examining a wide enough variety of settings (breadth) to address the research question.  Did the data collection and analysis process co-occur or occur in iterations in order to evaluate the data collected, assess data needs and return to the data collection process?
  • Does the research articulate a trail for data collection and analysis that another could follow, in the sense that one can understand the process and the connection between empirical data and interpretation of data?
  • Were data appropriately analyzed and findings adequately corroborated?  Key features here include multiple iterations between data analysis, data collection and the development and refinement of concepts, theories and findings; and evidence of the use of techniques such as triangulation.


Giacomini, MK. & Cook, DJ. (2000). "Users' guides to the medical literature: XXIII. Qualitative research in health care A. Are the result of the study valid?" JAMA. 284(3), 357-362.

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