qualitative research proposal

The Total Quality Framework: 8 Articles in RDR in 2021 on Research Integrity & Qualitative Research Proposal Design

Research Design Review is a research blog that went live more than 12 years ago, back in November 2009. RDR TQF 2021 RDR Articlescurrently consists of approximately 270 articles, has more than 875 subscribers and well over one million views. Although many articles in RDR discuss some aspect of the Total Quality Framework, eight articles published in 2021 were devoted to two specific areas relevant to the Total Quality Framework, i.e., research integrity and the qualitative research proposal. These eight articles are the focus in this document, “The Total Quality Framework: 8 Articles in RDR in 2021 on Research Integrity & Qualitative Research Proposal Design.”

As stated in the introduction to this document, many other compilations of RDR articles are available. In addition to those mentioned, year-end collections of articles are typically available, with the first of these posted in January 2012, “Questions & Answers: Selected Articles from Research Design Review.”

The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: The Research Team

TQF Proposal-Research Team

The Total Quality Framework (TQF) is built around the idea that a quality approach to qualitative research is strengthened by a host of essential critical thinking skills developed by the researcher and the research team. Indeed, the central goal of the TQF is to aid in the development of researchers’ critical thinking skills as they go about the design and implementation of their qualitative research studies. The TQF encourages researchers to stop and think about data collection considerations — such as sampling, mode, and interviewer bias — as well as the integrity of the theme-constructing process during analysis, and the ultimate interpretations and usefulness of the research outcomes. In this way, the TQF is squarely focused on

“bringing greater rigor to qualitative research without stifling or squelching the creative approaches and interpretations that skilled qualitative researchers properly embrace, practice, and celebrate.” (Roller & Lavrakas, p. 3)

The TQF research proposal has been discussed in other articles posted in Research Design Review. A general overview of the TQF proposal sections is discussed in “A Quality Approach to the Qualitative Research Proposal,” the Design component of the TQF proposal is discussed in three articles — “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Credibility of Design,” “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Method & Mode,” and “Writing Ethics Into Your Qualitative Proposal” — and the Literature Review section of the TQF proposal is discussed in this article, “The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Background & Literature Review.”

The following is a modified excerpt from Roller & Lavrakas (2015, pp. 342-343) describing the Research Team component of the TQF research proposal:

The principal researcher and the other people making up the research team (e.g., interviewers, moderators, observers, coders) that will be working on the proposed research are critical to the credibility of the data collected, the completeness and accuracy of the data analysis and interpretation, the transparency in the final documents, and ultimately the usefulness of the research. This is why a TQF research proposal includes a section that briefly: (a) identifies members of the team (either by name, if Read Full Text

The TQF Qualitative Research Proposal: Background & Literature Review

The following is a modified excerpt from Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015, pp. 336-337).

TQF Proposal-Literature Review

The second section of the Total Quality Framework (TQF) research proposal is Background and Literature Review. This section of the research proposal gives the reader the necessary context in which to situate the relevance of the proposed study. Here, the proposal author provides background details about the particular target population (e.g., in a study concerning cancer patients’ consultations with their doctors, information regarding the participating oncologists and the medical facility where they practice and conduct patient consultations), past research efforts among this population (e.g., with similar types of physicians and/or their patients), and a discussion of pertinent research published in professional literature and presented at professional conferences.

In conducting the review of earlier research (either internal research with the same target population or others’ research in the literature), the author of the proposal should pay particular attention to not only the compatibility of the subject matter but also the quality standards that were utilized in the design of each prior study. In fact, if the review of a past study finds it lacking from a TQF perspective, it is possible the proposal author will not cite it at all or, if it is cited, its shortcomings should be duly noted. To the extent that earlier research is cited, the researcher should identify the ways in which these studies included appropriate steps to maximize Credibility (e.g., coverage of key population segments as well as valid data gathering), Analyzability (e.g., accurate processing and verification of the data), and Transparency (e.g., full disclosure and thick description in the final document), as well as the Usefulness of the research in terms of making a valuable contribution to the subject matter. In this regard, the proposal should also discuss the author’s assessment of these earlier studies, emphasizing the strengths and limitations of that research from a TQF perspective.

It is recommended that the researcher include a Literature Review Reference Summary Evaluation Table (see below) in the proposal. This table allows the researcher to organize relevant past studies and to lay out the considerations of each as it relates to the TQF, giving proposal readers an encapsulated way to view compatible studies along with the researcher’s comments on their strengths and weaknesses from a TQF perspective.

TQF Proposal Lit Review Reference Table


Forbat, L., White, I., Marshall-Lucette, S., & Kelly, D. (2012). Discussing the sexual consequences of treatment in radiotherapy and urology consultations with couples affected by prostate cancer. BJU International, 109(1), 98–103. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2011.10257.x

López, A., Detz, A., Ratanawongsa, N., & Sarkar, U. (2012). What patients say about their doctors online: A qualitative content analysis. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 27(6), 685–692. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-011-1958-4