Wolcott Tightening Up the Qualitative Research Report
Wolcott, H.F. (1990). Writing up qualitative research. London: Sage.
Chapter 4: Tightening Up
- "Before you start tightening, take a look at how the whole thing is coming together. Do you have everything you need? (And, do you need everything you have? Remember, you're only supposed to be tightening up the wheelbarrow, not filling it!) (p. 48)."
Reviewing for Content and Style
- "Our opportunity is also our challenge: to portray real people doing and saying real things, seen through the eyes of another human observer (p. 49)."
Revising Versus Editing
- Vary the editing tasks in order to keep the process fresh.
Seeking Formal Editorial Help
- "Good writing does not call attention to itself, it enhances what is being written about (p. 54)."
How Do You Conclude a Qualitative Study?
- "A critical divide separates the realm of the observable from the realm of values about good and better (p. 55)."
- "There is nothing wrong with offering your personal opinions or professional judgments - but be sure to label them as such, and to search out and acknowledge their origins in your thinking (p. 56)."
- "Do not abandon your case study in an effort to achieve a grand finale (p. 56)."
- "A summary can provide a careful, conservative way to conclude on a strong note (p. 57)."
- "...consider doing even more by providing brief summaries throughout the study rather than saving everything for the end (p. 57)."
- "Summaries should help everyone remain on target, reader and author alike (p. 57)."
- Make sure summaries do as they were intended - summarize.
- Recommendations and Implications
- "...we ordinarily see recommendations or implications, not the two together (p. 58)."
- We must address the so-what factor.
- One way is to "...outline the kind of additional information or insight a researcher would require in order to pose a solution, offer a recommendation, or render the kind of judgment requested (p. 59)."
- Another way "...is to identify seeming paradoxes (p. 60)."
- "A third way...is to identify alternatives to current practice... (p. 60)."
- "Drawing implications is akin to stating recommendations but allows the researcher to remain more distant and contemplative (p. 60)."
- "One of the intriguing questions constantly before us - our own professional paradox - is why social research has so little impact. Are we scratching where it isn't itching (p. 61)?"
- Personal Reflections
- Running Out of Space
- "...rearrange so as to get more in, remove nonessentials, or find a larger suitcase (p. 62)."
- "Do less, more thoroughly (p. 62)."
- Wolcott uses a camera analogy. "...the zoom lens on a camera provides an analogy for the (above) principle in action. If you want to take in more of the picture, you must sacrifice closeness of detail, and vice versa (p. 63)."
- Crowding More In
- Explore other modes rather than text to convey meaning. Other modes include charts, graphs, tables, maps, etc.
- "The problem is to ensure that the material is self-explanatory, not text dependent (p. 65)."
- Be sure to include only relevant data. Don't include data just because you have it.
- Cutting More Out
- Look for tangents.
- A critical friend can help identify places to cut.
- "Most of us see and hear our informants as we enter their words onto a manuscript. We forget that our readers cannot do that (p. 68)."
- Examine beginnings and make sure that they benefit the reader.
- Cutting larger chunks can leave opportunities for other articles to be written. They also eliminate the feeling of disjointedness that can come from making minor cuts here and there.