You are here

Delays in shipping: Due to current delays in our warehouse shipping services, please expect longer than usual delivery times for any print book orders.  If you are a student requiring instant access to a book title, please consider ordering a digital copy via an alternative online retailer.

For instructors, only digital inspection copy requests are available. If you require a print inspection copy, please contact your local Academic Sales Consultant.

For further assistance please visit our Contact us page. Thank you for your patience and we apologise for the inconvenience.

Doing Qualitative Research

Doing Qualitative Research

Sixth Edition
  • David Silverman - Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney and King’s College, London, Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths’ College, Visiting Professor Emeritus at Leeds University Business School and Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology
Additional resources:

November 2021 | 656 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Need practical advice on how to do your first qualitative research project? This book will guide you through each step of the research process: from brainstorming ideas and working with your supervisor to navigating the field to writing up your results.

Driven by examples from other students’ projects, the book features discussions on translating social problems into research topics, collecting data in the wake of a pandemic, and guidance from Qualitative Data Analysis Software expert Christian Schmieder to help you summarise, categorise, and review qualitative data. A new chapter on how much data you need answers the age-old question: ‘how many interviews or case studies are enough?’

It also includes:
- Articles and websites to build your bibliography
- Questions to test your knowledge
- Videos from world-leading qualitative experts
- Activities to dig deeper into key concepts and think critically about research
- Lessons-learned discussions with other researchers
- Exercises to help you choose the right path for your project.  

Key features: in addition to the online Silverman Workshops, the book includes top tips, end-of-chapter checklists to test your understanding, and annotated further reading so you can develop your knowledge further.

Part One: Introduction
Chapter 1: How To Use This Book
Chapter 2: What You Can (and Can’t) Do with Qualitative Research
What is Qualitative Research?

Why Do Some Researchers Prefer Qualitative Methods?

Are Qualitative Methods Always Appropriate?

Should You Use Qualitative Methods?

Chapter 3: Focusing a Research Project
Moira’s Research Diary

Sally’s Research Diary

Simon’s Research Diary

Part Two: Starting Out and Project Foundations
Chapter 4: Formulating a Research Question


Some Cautions

Chapter 5: Ethical Research
The Standards of Ethical Research

Why Ethics Matter for Your Research

Ethical Guidelines in Practice

Complex Ethical Issues

Research Governance

Conclusion: Managing Unfolding Ethical Demands

Chapter 6: Research Design



The Internet

Audio Data

Visual Data

Mixed Methods

Chapter 7: Using Theories
How Theoretical Models Shape Research

The Different Languages of Qualitative Research

Theories, Models and Hypotheses


Chapter 8: Choosing a Methodology
Qualitative or Quantitative?

Your Research Strategy

Choosing a Methodology: A Case Study

Naturally Occurring Data?

Mixed Methods?

Chapter 9: Writing a Research Proposal
Aim for Crystal Clarity

Plan Before You Write

Be Persuasive

Be Practical

Make Broader Links

A Caution: Misunderstanding Qualitative Research?

Part Three: Getting Support
Chapter 10: Making Good Use of Your Supervisor
Supervision Horror Stories

Student and Supervisor Expectations

The Early Stages

The Later Stages

Standards of Good Practice

Chapter 11: Getting Feedback


The Art of Presenting Research

Feedback from the People You Study

Part Four: Collecting and Analysing Data
Chapter 12: How much data do you need?
The Quantitative Model of Generalization

How many interviews do you need?

Purposive Sampling in interview research

What is a case study?

The Rationale of Case Study Design

Case Study Research in Practice

Theoretical sampling

Chapter 13: Collecting Your Data
Collecting Interview Data

Collecting Focus Group Data

Collecting Ethnographic Data

Collecting Internet Data

Collecting Your Data in the Wake of a Pandemic

Chapter 14: Developing Data Analysis
Kick-Starting Data Analysis

A Case Study




Visual Data

Chapter 15: Using Qualitative Data Analysis Software: An Introduction
What is Qualitative Data Analysis Software?

Software for Qualitative Analysis? Great - so will it do analysis for me?

OK, so how can this software help me?

If I decide to use QDAS, do I have to use the program for all aspects of my analysis?

You continue to mention writing - why is that so important?

Will QDAS help my teamwork?

Hopes and Fears connected to using QDAS

What hardware do I need to run QDAS?

What are some strategies for learning to use QDAS, and to see if a specific software will work for my project?

Tips for doing analysis with QD

Chapter 16: Quality in Qualitative Research


Chapter 17: Effective Qualitative Research
Keep It Simple

Do Not Assume That We Are Only Concerned with Subjective Experience

Take Advantage of Using Qualitative Data

Avoid Drowning in Data

Avoid Journalism

Part Five: Writing Up Your Research
Chapter 18: What Counts as ‘Originality’?

Being a Professional

Independent Critical Thought

Chapter 19: Considering Your Audience
The Policy-Making Audience

The Practitioner Audience

The Lay Audience

Chapter 20: The First Few Pages
The Title

The Abstract


The Table of Contents

The Introduction

Chapter 21: The Literature Review Chapter
Recording Your Reading

Writing Your Literature Review

Practical Questions


Do You Need a Literature Review Chapter?

Chapter 22: The Methodology Chapter
What Should the Methodology Chapter Contain?

A Natural History Chapter?

Chapter 23: Writing Your Data Chapters
The Macrostructure

The Microstructure

Tightening up

Chapter 24: Your Concluding Chapter
The Concluding Chapter as Mutual Stimulation

What Exactly Should Your Concluding Chapter Contain?

Confessions and Trumpets

Theorizing as Thinking Through Data

Writing for Audiences

Why Your Concluding Chapter Can Be Fun

Part Six: The Aftermath
Chapter 25: Managing an Oral Examination
Viva Horror Stories

Preparing for Your Oral

Doing the Oral


Revising Your Thesis after the Oral

A Case Study

Chapter 26: Getting Published
The Backstage Politics of Publishing

Strategic Choices

What Journals are Looking For

Reviewers’ Comments

How to Write a Short Journal Article



Click for Online Resources
Whether you’re at your desk planning your project, gathering data, or writing it all up, your instant supervisor, David Silverman, is here to help with resources he has curated and created to support you through every phase of your project.

Read – Chapters, Journal Articles, and Research BlogsFind top research articles to cite and enrich your reading with your ready-made bibliography of qualitative research from SAGE books, journals, and other credible sources.

Watch – Videos: Take masterclasses from other researchers--avoid common pitfalls, get encouragement, and ensure you’re going in the right direction with short videos that explore key terms and processes in qualitative research.  

Explore – Smartphone-based Activities: Put your investigative skills to the test with these quick interactive activities. Dig deeper into key concepts and understand how they might relate to your own research project via guided website searches and online discussion questions.

Practice – Multiple Choice Questions: Test your knowledge with quick questions in-text and double-check your answers and logic online.

Collaborate – Think Critically: Learn from researchers who have been in your shoes—use their examples and experiences to explore how their ‘lessons learned’ can improve your own research approach. 

Apply – Your Exercise Workbook: Revise, reflect, and take notes with a series of exercises designed to help you brainstorm your own project and apply your newfound knowledge to real-world research examples.

There is no doubt that “Doing Qualitative Research” is a Bible for all qualitative researchers. Unlike the Bible, however, it is constantly updated, taking into account both new methods and new circumstances in which research takes place. A classic, but always relevant.

Barbara Czarniawska
Professor of Management Studies, University of Gothenburg

Doing Qualitative Research has evolved and deepened over its six editions as a result not only of the many conversations between its author and its readers over the years, but also the changing circumstances of the contexts in which it has been written and read. For instance, changes to research methods as a result of policy measures designed to deal with a pandemic are discussed in this edition. There is no better guide to the practical issues of doing qualitative research and getting it published than this book by Silverman, the leader in the field.

Stewart Clegg
Emeritus Professor, UTS Business School, Management Department

A wide-ranging and highly distinctive introduction that addresses the practices and practicalities of undertaking different forms of qualitative research.  It powerfully explores the contributions of particular methods and discusses how one can address and resolve the challenges that arise at the different stages of a research project. It is an important resource for students and teachers alike.

Christian Heath
King’s Business School, King’s College London

David Silverman notes that ‘qualitative research is a contested domain’. This is something of an under-statement, and students in particular need clear and concise guidance when seeking to grasp the complexities and harness the rich potentials of qualitative research. In his extensive writings and edited collections, Silverman provides precisely what is needed. New editions of Doing Qualitative Research have come thick and fast since 2000, each succeeding edition offering clear and incisive engagement with key aspects of qualitative research and the ways in which it, and researching generally, have developed. This new edition takes account of the global upheavals and transformations that have occurred since 2017, including the new challenges posed in data gathering and engaging in the chosen research context. The result is an invaluable resource not only for early-career but also seasoned researchers.

Anthony Bryant
Professor of Informatics,Leeds Beckett University

This is an excellent resource that is so much more than a book. [...] This book's strength is its accessibility and sound advice illustrated by real life examples. The book will become a well-thumbed companion to anyone committing to qualitative post graduate research in the social sciences.

Julie Truman
Evaluation and Research Exec at Skills Development Scotland
Social Research Association

An excellent text for students undertaking independent research on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

Mrs Sian Pitson
Swansea Business School (Swansea), University of Wales, Trinity St David
September 26, 2022

I'm going to use it for my course and provide its details on the students' reading list.
Extremely useful for graduate students!

Dr Dorota Werbińska
Linguistics, Pomeranian University of Słupsk
July 6, 2022

This book will be a useful addition to the reading lists for those units in which students are exploring research methods.

Dr Leslie Gelling
Faculty of Health & Social Sciences(Nursing), Bournemouth University
January 29, 2023

Silverman is not only a classic but also essential for qualitative researchers - starting out our seasoned. Within the discipline of education, I can see students using this text as an essential bit of reading.

Mrs Eleonora Teszenyi
Faculty of Education, The Open University
June 17, 2022

Another great general reading on the topic

Dr Robert Patton
School of Psychology, Surrey University
January 25, 2023

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781529769005

ISBN: 9781529769012

Help your students build critical thinking skills