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How should I present qualitative interview data in a research article?


Analyzing and presenting qualitative data in a research paper can be difficult. In the methods section, you have to justify and present the research design.

The method should be briefly outlined and illustrated with examples, such as the main interview questions (which form the core of your study), the criteria for selecting participants, sampling methods, how the data were transcribed, ethical approval and informed consent, when it was decided to stop collecting data, data analysis and methods for extrapolating themes and concepts from the data, and how the results were validated.

To present qualitative interview data in a research article, you should consider using tables and figures. Tables should contain the data from the interviews, and figures should contain graphs, charts, or maps that are derived from the data.

Here is a useful way to structure tables and figures in your manuscript/research paper:

  • Table 1: Basic information about the table
    Table 1 provides a summary of the data presented in the entire table set. For example, if the table contains data on participant characteristics, Table 1 would contain the data for each variable.
  • Table 2: Detailed data for specific variables
    Table 2 provides detailed data for specific variables. For example, if Table 1 shows the data for the variable age, Table 2 would give the data for each age group.
  • Table 3: Additional data
    Table 3 provides additional data that is not part of the core data set. For example, Table 3 might contain the data for the variable socioeconomic status.
  • Figures
    You can use figures to present data that is difficult to fit into a table. For example, if you want to present a map of your study area, a line graph to show participant ages, or a bar graph to show participant socioeconomic status, you can use figures.

    Note: Figures should be placed at the end of the text, after Tables and before the reference list. You should also cite each table and figure in the text of the article.

If this is a questionnaire-based study, the questionnaire may be included as part of the supplementary data of the manuscript – many journals allow for this.

The most important thing to remember when presenting qualitative interview data is that you do not want to overwhelm the reader with small details. Instead of reporting everything the interviewee said, focus on the key points and themes that relate to the research question; use charts or tables to help the reader understand the data; analyse the data instead of just describing it; use it to tell a story that focuses on answering the research question. In general, don’t write long reports; present only the most significant findings.