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Qualitative and mixed methods studies should include the following sections:

  • List of abbreviations / glossary 
  • Abstract 
  • Plain language summary 
  • Scientific Summary 
  • Context (including review of evidence)
  • Research objectives
  • Literature search / review
  • Methodology (including any changes to the protocol) 
  • Data sources
  • Modes of analysis / interpretation
  • Literature searches (positioning as appropriate)
  • Results of qualitative study & results of quantitative study (if mixed methods) / application (structure of reporting will vary between studies and may require several chapters) 
  • Discussion (including robustness of the results and limitations, recommendations for future research, review of evidence and implication for decision makers).  You are encouraged to make some general observations about the wider field of research as well as specific recommendations, and there should be a balance between the two.   Your discussion will be required to include separate headings to discuss ‘Equality, Diversity and Inclusion’ and ‘Patient and Public Involvement’, which will be mandatory from 1st April 2022.
  • Conclusions (clear summary of the main findings of the research) 
  • Acknowledgements 
  • References 
  • Appendices

Review of evidence

All qualitative and mixed-methods studies should include a review of evidence showing clearly where your work is positioned in light of existing evidence.  Normally such a review would inform the context and discussion chapters in the final report:

Within the context chapter: authors should explain the policy or service need or uncertainty which drives this topic and their research.  There should be an indication of the relevant studies carried out in this area and where the gaps are, with authors identifying, in broad terms, the relevant evidence and how they found and reviewed it.  In some instances there may be a formal review or evidence synthesis as part of the study which can be reported in a distinct chapter, but all studies should set the scene for their work here in terms of what is already known on that topic. 

Within the discussion chapter: authors should reflect on what their study has added to existing knowledge and published research.  This should include a high-level analysis of how their study confirmed or challenged existing evidence and what it has added to the knowledge base.  In addition to the situating of findings in the evidence base this could also include an indication of the ways in which their particular study design, or mix of methods, or focus of investigation is distinct from previous studies and offers new insights or knowledge.