You are here

The Sage website, including online ordering services, will be unavailable due to system maintenance on June 15 between 2:00 am and 8:00 am BST. If you need assistance, please contact Sage at  
Thank you for your patience and we apologise for the inconvenience.

Qualitative Research in Sport and Physical Activity

Qualitative Research in Sport and Physical Activity

November 2012 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Designed especially for students in sport and physical activity, this book provides a detailed guide to planning, undertaking, and writing up qualitative research. Opening with a discussion of the main traits of qualitative inquiry and its use in sport and physical activity, the authors provide a coherent and accessible overview of qualitative research using numerous examples to bring the text alive. The book is divided into five parts informed by stages in the research process, with chapters on:

• early steps in the research process

• ethics

• choosing your an approach

• methods of data collection

• analysing the data

• writing up and disseminating your findings.

This is essential reading for undergraduate and Masters students carrying out a qualitative research project in sport and physical activity and for PhD students looking to refresh their knowledge.

Qualitative Research and Its Use in Sport and Physical Activity
The Main Characteristics of Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research in Sport and Physical Activity

Ethical Considerations in Research
Recruiting Participants

Informed Consent

Confidentiality and Anonymity

Avoiding Harm

Developing the Research Question and Writing the Proposal
The topic and Research Question

Writing the Proposal

The Role of the Literature in Qualitative Research
The Literature and the Proposal

The Literature Overview

The Inductive Approach

The Ongoing Dialogue with the Literature

Keeping Track of References

Purposive Sampling

Sampling Types

Sampling Decisions

Accessing the Sample

Referring to the Sample

Types of Interview

Variety of Interviews

Asking Questions

Interviewing Skills

The Relationship Between Interviewer and Participants

Practical Sspects of Interviewing

Potential Problems in Interviewing

Focus Groups
The Origin and Purpose of Focus Groups

Choosing the Sample: Size, Number and Composition

Conducting Focus Group Interviews

The Involvement of the Interviewer

Analysing Focus Group Data

Ethical Issues

Advantages and Limitations of Focus Groups

Participant Observation
The research Setting

Types of Observation

Getting Started

Keeping a Record

Using Documentary Sources of Data

Problematic Issues

Grounded Theory
The Origins of Grounded Theory

The Main Elements of Grounded Theory

The Process of GT: Data Collection and Analysis

The Developing Theory

Problems in Grounded Theory


A Focus on Culture

Ethnographic Methods

Sample and Setting

The Ethnographic Record

Analysis and Interpretation

Problems in Conducting Ethnographic Research

Descriptive and Interpretive Phenomenology

Eliciting Life-World Descriptions

The Use of Bracketing and Sensitising

The Findings of Phenomenological Research


Phenomenological Interviews

Analysis in Descriptive and Hermeneutic Phenomenology

Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)


Narrative Research
Stories and Their Structure

Types of Story

The Functions of People’s Stories

Collecting Data

Narrative Analysis

The Distinctive Nature of Narrative Research

A Critique of Narrative Research

Mixed Methods Research
Adopting Mixed Methods Research

Designing Mixed Methods Research

The problems Inherent in Mixed Methods Research

Data Analysis
Managing the Data

Transcribing and Writing Memos

Data Reduction and Conceptualisation: Codes, Categories and Themes

Computer-aided Analysis of Qualitative Data

Interpreting the Data

The Quality of Qualitative Inquiry
Validity and Reliability

Alternative Criteria for Qualitative Research

How to Ensure Trustworthiness

Writing Up Qualitative Research
Writing in the First Person

The Format of the Report

Checklist Before Submission

Telling the Tale: Creativity and Originality

Publishing and Presenting the Research


A concise overview of qualitative rsearch methods suitable as an introduction for undergraduates.
A great place for beginner researchers to gain an understanding of the core principles of a range of methodologies.

Mr Ben Jane
Faculty of Sport Media and Management, College of St Mark and St John
February 27, 2013

A good basic introduction to qualitative research, which is portrayed in an accessible format to inspire students undertaking projects in sport and physical activity. It is indeed an introductory level text, and none the worse for that. Clearly structured and written. I liked the inclusion of a chapter on Phenomenology, which actually provides some of the philosophical underpinnings of the approach, rather than (as some other texts do) viewing phenomenology merely as either another label for qualitative research, or as a set of techniques. A very welcome effort at covering the complexities of this particular perspective.

The inclusion in each chapter of examples and references relating to specific studies is very helpful. Overall, an excellent, engaging and very useful text that I shall recommend to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Dr Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
Sport, Coaching and Exercise Science, Lincoln University
January 22, 2013

This is a clear and well structured text which I believe students will find easy to follow and digest.

Mrs Stella Williams
Department of Psychology, Newman University College
January 22, 2013

A great new resources for the area of physical activity and sport. Provides an in-depth overview of qualitative research and the philosophical underpinnings of different approaches.

Dr Ailsa Niven
Department of PE, Sports and Leisure Studies, Edinburgh University
January 15, 2013

This is one of very few texts which uses case study and examples from the fields of sports and recreational physical activity. Its breadth and depth is at an introductory level appropriate for UG research and evidence modules. It provides core basic qualitative principles in topic specific chapters which will aid the first time reader. Together this makes it an engaing text for sports and physical therapy students. The use of practical cases from the world of sports and recreational physical activity clubs are relevant and illuminating.

Mrs Sarah Westwater-Wood
Divison of Physiotherapy Education, Nottingham University
December 11, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781446207451

ISBN: 9781446207444

SAGE Knowledge is the premier social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press book, reference and video content.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.