• How does one go about writing up a qualitative research report?
• Is there a particular structure or style that should be followed?
• What are some of the ways in which a mass of data can be organized into the ‘findings’ of a study?
• Who are the readers of qualitative research?
• Why should research studies be published?
Finally, your data have been collected, sorted and resorted, studied, analysed and re-analysed. Now you are at the final activity of the final stage – writing it all up. You are either at the top of the pyramid (see Chapter 3, Figure 3.3, p. 38) or on the final step in the recursive cycle (Chapter 3, Figure 3.2, p. 37). But remember that nothing is final and that you will constantly refer back to earlier stages and steps during the report-writing exercise.
You should regard everything we have to say in this chapter as advisory rather than prescriptive, for every writing exercise has its own purpose and context and therefore unique stylistic requirements, organizational conventions and reader expectations. A dissertation, for example, will have quite rigid conventions for presentation and style, and these must be followed exactly. Journal articles and reports for funding bodies, on the other hand, may allow rather more leeway in presentation, but there will still be certain expectations for you to meet. It is best to begin, therefore, by having an absolutely clear understanding of what is required of you in a specific writing exercise. Then, to the extent possible, consider following the appropriate suggestions in this chapter.
The writing process
When preparing to write up the results of your qualitative investigation, remember that it helps to begin with a disciplined approach to the writing enterprise. For those new to this activity, Glesne offers a number of suggestions suitable for qualitative researchers.
To begin with, develop a detailed schedule and firm deadlines for your writing. Work backwards from when the completed product is due, and fit each chapter or section into a realistic time frame. Remember that there will be holidays and other unavoidable delays in your writing schedule. If you are relying on participants or referees for feedback, bear in mind that they will have other commitments.