Arguments for 'British Pluralism' in qualitative health research

J Adv Nurs. 2001 Jan;33(2):243-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2001.01659.x.


Aims of the study: This paper examines the argument that certain qualitative research methods can be used in 'pure' forms. Whilst rigid adherence to particular published procedures might be possible, we argue that in many cases this is neither necessary nor more likely to increase the validity of the research outcome.

Methodological purity: In examining the works of well-known claimants to particular research approaches such as grounded theory and phenomenology we show that purity of method is uncommon. In particular it is possible to demonstrate that all published qualitative methods are subject to their own underlying relativist philosophy. The implication of this is that all are social constructions and that their execution will necessarily be negotiated in time and context.

Conclusion: We conclude that analysis of varied examples of qualitative research shows methods to be more flexible than is often admitted. What we describe as 'British Pluralism' is an attempt to accept this reality whilst maintaining rigour through integrity, clear accounts, reflexivity and constructive critique of one's own work and that of others.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Nursing Methodology Research / methods*
  • Nursing Methodology Research / standards
  • Philosophy, Nursing*
  • Politics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design*
  • Sociology, Medical
  • United Kingdom