Qualitative checklist


Qualitative Dissertation Checklist


The following provides guidance for reporting on qualitative studies.


All items may not be relevant to your particular study; please consult with your chair for guidance.


The checklist items may not necessarily be in the order that works best for your dissertation. Please consult with your committee; however, the checklist should work well in the absence of other considerations.


Instructions for Students:


Indicate on the checklist the page number (use the actual document page number, not the MS Word pagination) where the appropriate indicator is located.


Respond to comments from the chair and/or URR comments in the comment history box. Do not delete previous comments(just add your response and use some means to clearly identify your remarks (different font/bold/italics/color).


Instructions for the chair and/or URR


Provide specific feedback in the comment history column. Do not delete previous comments(just add your response and use some means to clearly identify your remarks (different font/bold/italics/color).


If you made detailed comments on the draft (using track changes and comments), you can make reference to the draft rather than restate everything in the checklist comment history section.


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Student’s Name:

Student ID

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Committee Members’ Names:



University Research Reviewer

Front Matter

Checklist Items

Comment History

Title [Insert Dissertation Title]

Most important conceptual issue investigated.

Qualitative tradition applied.

Participant group to which the study applies.


Describe the research problem and why it is important.

Identify the purpose of the study.

State the theoretical foundations and/or conceptual frameworks, as appropriate.

Summarize the key research question(s).

Describe, concisely, the overall research design, methods, and data analysis procedures.

Identify key results, conclusions, and recommendations that capture the heart of the research (for the final study only).

Conclude with a statement on the implications for positive social change.

Chapter 1

Checklist Items


Comment History


Describe the topic of the study, why the study needs to be conducted, and the potential social implications of the study.

Preview major sections of the chapter.


Briefly summarize research literature related to the scope of the study topic.

Describe a gap in knowledge in the discipline that the study will address.

End the section on why the study is needed.

Problem Statement

State the research problem.

Provide evidence of consensus that the problem is current, relevant, and significant to the discipline.

Frame the problem in a way that builds upon or counters previous research findings focusing primarily on research conducted in the last 5 years.

Address a meaningful gap in the current research literature.

Purpose of the study

Provide a concise statement that serves as the connection between the problem being addressed and the focus of the study and contains:

The research paradigm.

The intent of the study (such as describe, compare, explore, develop, etc).

The concept/phenomenon of interest.

Research question(s)

State the research questions.

Theoretical and / or Conceptual Framework for the Study

(Studies must include either a theoretical foundation or a conceptual framework section (studies may include both))

Theoretical Foundation

Identify the theory or theories and provide the origin or source.

State concisely the major theoretical propositions and/or major hypotheses with a reference to more detailed explanation in chapter 2.

Explain how the theory relates to the study approach and research questions.

Conceptual Framework

This applies to qualitative and some epidemiological studies (as well as some other quantitative studies)

Identify and define the concept/phenomenon that grounds the study.

Describe concisely the conceptual framework (for qualitative studies, the contextual


; for quantitative studies, description of the body of research that supports the need for the study) as derived from the literature with more detailed analysis in chapter 2.

State the logical connections among key elements of the framework with a reference to a more thorough explanation in chapter 2.

State how the framework relates to the study approach and key research questions as well as instrument development and data analysis where appropriate.

Nature of the study

Provide a concise rationale for selection of the design/tradition.

Briefly describe the key concept and / or phenomenon being investigated.

Briefly summarize the methodology (from whom and how data are collected and how data will be analyzed).


Provide concise definitions of key concepts or constructs.

Define terms used in the study that have multiple meanings (e.g., socioeconomic status, educator, health service professional, etc.). Do not include common terms or terms that can easily be looked up in a dictionary

Include citations that identify support in the professional literature for the definition or operational definition.


Clarify aspects of the study that are believed but cannot be demonstrated to be true. Include only those assumptions that are critical to the meaningfulness of the study

Describe the reasons why the assumption(s) was/were necessary in the context of the study.

Scope and Delimitations

Describe specific aspects of the research problem that are addressed in the study and why the specific focus was chosen.

Define the boundaries of the study by identifying populations included and excluded and theories/conceptual frameworks most related to the area of study that were not investigated.

Address potential transferability.


Describe limitations of the study related to design and / or methodological weaknesses (including issues related to limitations of transferability and dependability).

Describe any biases that could influence study outcomes and how they are addressed.

Describe reasonable measures to address limitations .


Identify potential contributions of the study that advance knowledge in the discipline. This is an elaboration of what the problem addresses.

Identify potential contributions of the study that advance practice and/or policy (as applicable).

Describe potential implications for positive social change that are consistent with and bounded by the scope of the study.


Summarize main points of the chapter.

Provide transition to chapter 2.


Checklist Items

Pg /NA

Comment History


Restate the problem and the purpose.

Provide a concise synopsis of the current literature that establishes the relevance of the problem.

Preview major sections of the chapter.

Literature Search Strategy

List accessed library databases and search engines used.

List key search terms and combinations of search terms (with more detailed search terms located in an appendix if appropriate).

Describe the iterative search process by explaining what terms were used in what database to identify germane scholarship.

In cases where there is little current research, and few(if any) dissertations and/or conference proceedings, describe how this was handled.

Theoretical Foundation (as appropriate)

Name the theory or theories.

Provide origin or source of the theory.

Describe major theoretical propositions and/or major hypotheses, including delineation of any assumptions appropriate to the application of the theory.

Provide a literature and research based analysis of how the theory has been applied previously in ways similar to the current study.

Provide the rationale for the choice of this theory.

Describe how and why the selected theory relates to the present study and how the research questions relate to, challenge, or build upon existing theory.

Conceptual Framework (As appropriate)

Identify and define the concept/phenomenon.

Synthesize primary writings by key theorists, philosophers, and / or seminal researchers related to the concept or phenomenon.

Provide key statements and definitions inherent in the framework.

Describe how the concept or phenomenon has been applied and articulated in previous research and how the current study benefits from this framework.

Literature Review Related to Key Variables and/or Concepts

Provide an exhaustive review of the current literature that includes the following information:

Describe studies related to the constructs of interest and chosen methodology and methods that are consistent with the scope of the study.

Describe ways researchers in the discipline have approached the problem and the strengths and weakness inherent in their approaches.

Justify from the literature the rationale for selection of the variables or concepts.

Review and synthesize studies related to the key concepts and/or phenomena under investigation to produce a description of what is known about them, what is controversial, and what remains to be studied.

Review and synthesize studies related to the research questions and why the approach selected is meaningful.

Summary and Conclusions

Concisely summarize major themes in the literature.

Summarize what is known as well as what is not known in the discipline related to the topic of study.

Describe how the present study fills at least one of the gaps in the literature and will extend knowledge in the discipline.

Provide transitional material to connect the gap in the literature to the methods described in chapter 3.


Checklist Items

Pg /NA

Comment History


Restate study purpose as described in chapter 1.

Preview major sections of the chapter.

Research Design and Rationale

Restate research questions exactly as described in chapter 1.

State and define central concept(s) / phenomenon (a) of the study.

Identify the research tradition.

Provide rationale for the chosen tradition.

Role of the Researcher

Define and explain your role as observer, participant, or observer-participant.

Reveal any personal and professional relationships researcher may have with participants, with emphasis on supervisory or instructor relationships involving power over the participants.

State how any researcher biases and / or power relationships are or will be managed.

Other ethical issues as applicable (these could include doing a study within one’s own work environment, conflict of interest or power differentials, and justification for use of incentives) and the plan for addressing these issues.


(needs to be described in sufficient depth so that other researchers can replicate the study)

Participant Selection Logic

Identify the population (if appropriate).

Identify and justify the sampling strategy.

State the criterion/a on which participant selection is based.

Establish how participants are known to meet the criterion/a.

State number of participants / cases and the rationale for that number.

Explain specific procedures for how participants will be identified, contacted, and recruited.

Describe the relationship between saturation and sample size.


Identify each data collection instrument and source (observation sheet, interview protocol, focus group protocol, video-tape, audio-tape, artifacts, archived data, and other kinds of data collection instruments).

Identify source for each data collection instrument (published or researcher produced).

If historical or legal documents are used as a source of data, demonstrate the reputability of the sources and justify why they represent the best source of data.

Establish sufficiency of data collection instruments to answer research questions.

For published data collection instruments

Who developed the instrument and what is the date of publication?

Where and with which participant group has it been used previously?

How appropriate is it for current study (that is, context and cultural specificity of protocols/instrumentation) and whether modifications will be or were needed?

Describe how content validity will be or was established.

Address any context- and culture-specific issues specific to the population while developing the instrument.

For researcher-developed instruments

Basis for instrument development (Literature sources, other bases (such as pilot study).

Describe how content validity will be / was established.

Establish sufficiency of data collection instruments to answer the research questions.


For Pilot Studies (as appropriate

Include all procedures for recruitment, participation, and data collection associated with the pilot study and the main study.

Describe the relationship of the pilot study to the main study (e.g., what is the purpose of the pilot study?)

Include the IRB approval number (completed dissertation).


For Recruitment, Participation, and Data Collection (for students collecting their own data)

For each data collection instrument and research question, provide details of data collection.

· From where data will be collected?

· Who will collect the data?

· Frequency of data collection events.

· Duration of data collection events.

· How data will be recorded?

· Follow-up plan if recruitment results in too few participants.

Explain how participants exit the study (for example, debriefing procedures).

Describe any follow-up procedures (such as requirements to return for follow-up interviews).

Data Analysis Plan

For each type of data collected identify:

· Connection of data to a specific research question.

· Type of and procedure for coding.

· Any software used for analysis.

· Manner of treatment of discrepant cases.

Issues of Trustworthiness

Credibility (internal validity): Describe appropriate strategies to establish credibility, such as triangulation, prolonged contact, member checks, saturation, reflexivity, and peer review.

Transferability (external validity): Describe appropriate strategies to establish transferability, such as thick description and variation in participant selection.

Dependability (the qualitative counterpart to reliability): Describe appropriate strategies to establish dependability, such as audit trails and triangulation.

Confirmability (the qualitative counterpart to objectivity): Describe appropriate strategies to establish confirmability, such as reflexivity.

Intra- and intercoder reliability (where applicable).

Ethical Procedures

Agreements to gain access to participants or data (include actual documents in the IRB application).

Describe the treatment of human participants including the following (include actual documents in the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application):

· Institutional permissions, including IRB approvals that are needed (proposal) or were obtained (for the completed dissertation, include relevant IRB approval numbers).

· Ethical concerns related to recruitment materials and processes and a plan to address them.

· Ethical concerns related to data collection/intervention activities (these could include participants refusing participation or early withdrawal from the study and response to any predicable adverse events) and a plan to address them.

Describe treatment of data (including archival data), including issues of:

· Whether data are anonymous or confidential and any concerns related to each.

· Protections for confidential data (data storage procedures, data dissemination, who will have access to the data, and when data will be destroyed).

Other ethical issues as applicable (these issues could include doing a study within one’s own work environment; conflict of interest or power differentials; and justification for use of incentives).


Summary of main points of the chapter.

Transition to chapter 4.

Chapter 4

Checklist Items

Pg /NA

Comment History


Review briefly the purpose and research questions.

Preview chapter organization.

Pilot Study (If Applicable)

Describe the conduct of the pilot study.

Report any impact of the pilot study on the main study (for example, changes in instrumentation and /or data analysis strategies).


Describe any personal or organizational conditions that influenced participants or their experience at time of study that may influence interpretation of the study results (for example, changes in personnel, budget cuts, and other trauma).


Present participant demographics and characteristics relevant to the study.

Data Collection

State number of participants from whom each type of data were collected.

Describe location, frequency, and duration of data collection for each data collection instrument.

Describe how the data were recorded.

Present any variations in data collection from the plan presented in chapter 3.

Present any unusual circumstances encountered in data collection.

Data Analysis

Report process used to move inductively from coded units to larger representations including categories and themes.

Describe the specific codes, categories, and themes that emerged from the data using quotations as needed to emphasize their importance.

Describe qualities of discrepant cases and how they were factored into the analysis.

Evidence of Trustworthiness

Credibility: Describe implementation of and / or adjustments to credibility strategies stated in chapter 3

Transferability: Describe implementation of and / or adjustments to transferability strategies stated in chapter 3

Dependability: Describe implementation of and / or adjustment to consistency strategies stated in chapter 3

Confirmability: Describe implementation of and / or adjustment to consistency strategies stated in chapter 3.


Address each research question (chapter may be organized by research question or patterns or themes).

Present data to support each finding (quotes from transcripts, documents, etc.).

Discuss discrepant cases/ nonconfirming data as applicable.

Include tables and figures to illustrate results, as appropriate, and per the current edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.


Summarize answers to research questions.

Provide transition to chapter 5.


Checklist Items

Pg /NA

Comment History


Concisely reiterate the purpose and nature of the study and why it was conducted.

Concisely summarize key findings.

Interpretation of the Findings

Describe in what ways findings confirm, disconfirm, or extend knowledge in the discipline by comparing them with what has been found in the peer-reviewed literature described in chapter 2.

Analyze and interpret the findings in the context of the theoretical and/or conceptual framework, as appropriate.

· Ensure interpretations do not exceed the data, findings, and scope.

Limitations of the Study

Describe the limitations to trustworthiness that arose from execution of the study. These should be used to revise what was written in chapter 1 for the proposal.


Describe recommendations for further research that are grounded in the strengths and limitations of the current study as well as the literature reviewed in chapter 2.

· Ensure recommendations do not exceed study boundaries.


Positive Social Change

· Describe the potential impact for positive social change at the appropriate level (individual, family, organizational, and societal/policy).

· Ensure implications for social change do not exceed the study boundaries.

Describe methodological, theoretical, and/or empirical implications, as appropriate.

Describe recommendations for practice, as appropriate.


Provide a strong “take home” message that captures the key essence of the study.


Checklist Items

Comment History

Citations and Referencing

All citations have been crosschecked to ensure that there are corresponding references (and that there are no references that do not have associated citations).

All sources are cited correctly per

(for example, studies listed in alphabetical order by first author; no first names of authors).

Grammar, Spelling, and Syntax

The paper has been thoroughly checked for

, spelling, and syntax errors.

For the final dissertation, the dissertation has been checked for correct

representing a completed study.


Headings are used, consistent with the

, to make sections of thought distinct.

Use of the Writing Center Template


(APA, 6th edition) was used to construct the proposal and/or dissertation so that all formatting is correct.

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