Table 3

Schemata for appraising qualitative or interpretive evidence

Type of schema and evidence to be appraisedHow the schema works and the criteria used
Critical appraisal checklists for determining the quality of qualitative research papers
 Several generic checklists have been published on how to appraise qualitative studies.101–104Evaluation schema considered for variety of qualitative studies. Quality is primarily determined by audit trail of research process and decisions made and credibility of study methods:
  • Clarity of objectives and research questions

  • Appropriate selection of method to meet aims

  • Clear rationale for sampling strategy

  • Appropriate use of triangulation

  • Audit trail in data collection and analysis

  • Explicit researcher position and role

  • Clear basis for findings

  • Transferability of findings

  • Relevance, usefulness, importance of findings

Standards to be used for a systematic review of qualitative literature
 Aimed at qualitative health services research.100Qualitative research is considered in the context of conducting systematic reviews on defined questions. Criteria for quality are intended to give priority to the:
  • Interpretation of subjective meaning

  • Description of social context

  • Attention given to lay knowledge

Qualitative studies are assessed in following dimensions: theoretical basis of study; sampling strategy; scope of data collection; description of data collected; generalisability or typicality
Guide to appraising validity and applicability of qualitative literature
 One of the JAMA series: User's Guides to the Medical Literature, aimed at appraising qualitative research in clinical settings.105Examines four main aspects of qualitative analysis:
  • Participant selection

  • Appropriateness of data collection

  • Process of data collection

  • Data analysis and corroboration of findings through triangulation