A matter of taste: evaluating the quality of qualitative research

Nurs Inq. 2015 Jun;22(2):86-94. doi: 10.1111/nin.12080. Epub 2014 Sep 12.


Driven by an impetus to standardize, numerous checklists have been devised to address quality in qualitative research, but these standards and the mindset driving them offer no language with which to speak about taste, or the aesthetic sensibilities that play such a key role in evaluating the goodness of any object. In this article, quality appraisal in qualitative research is considered in the context of taste, that is, in the discernment involved in judging the value of research and in the recognition of the key role reviewer preferences, sensibilities and membership in one or more taste communities play in these judgements. The evaluation of a study is accomplished by evaluating one or more reports from that study, and such reports may be conceived as art forms amenable to the same criteria for appraisal as poems or paintings. Taste implies judgements about the quality of objects and a person's ability to sift through and select from a store of knowledge that knowledge appropriate to judge its value. What binds a community of practitioners (here reviewers of qualitative studies) together is taste-making, or the constant refinements of judgements concerning what constitutes good and bad practice.

Keywords: qualitative research; quality criteria; reliability; taste; validity.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Nursing Research / standards
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design / standards