The qualitative research audit trail: a complex collection of documentation

Res Nurs Health. 1993 Jun;16(3):219-26. doi: 10.1002/nur.4770160309.


A qualitative study typically involves a large volume of researcher-generated data, including notes about the context of the study, methodological decisions, data analysis procedures, and self-awareness of the researcher. Such data are important in many aspects of the study, particularly in the development of an audit trail to substantiate trustworthiness. Unfortunately, there is little information available to assist researchers in generating the needed documentation. In this article, we discuss the types of data that contribute to credible investigations. Strategies for maintaining effective records in qualitative studies are included, along with examples from our own research.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection / standards*
  • Documentation / standards*
  • Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Nursing Research / standards
  • Self Concept