Useful Qualitative Research: The Total Quality Framework Usefulness Component

Our research is of little value if the outcomes are not deemed useful in some way. This is true for all types of research. Whether it is qualitative, quantitative, or a mixed methods approach, the “carrot” that dangles ahead of the research team is the promise of reaching worthwhile, actionable conclusions and recommendations for the users and sponsors of the research. Achieving this objective – reaching the “carrot” of useful research – is the product of the quality measures put into place at the data collection, analysis, and reporting phases of the research design.

The Total Quality Framework (TQF)* offers a way of thinking about these quality measures in a qualitative research design. The TQF is comprised of four inter-related components, each having to do with a stage of the research process.  Recent articles in Research Design Review have discussed three of these components – Credibility pertaining to data collection, Analyzability having to do with the processing and verification of qualitative data, and Transparency relating to the reporting of details associated with data collection, analysis, and the drawing of interpretations.

The fourth component of the TQF is Usefulness or the “ability to do something of value with the outcomes.” The ultimate strength of the Usefulness component is a function of the vigor – the attention to quality – within the Credibility (data collection), Analyzability (analysis), and Transparency (reporting) components. In this way, the Usefulness component relies on each of the other components independently as well as collectively. The goal is to maximize the value of a qualitative research study for Read Full Text

Designing Qualitative Research to Produce Outcomes You Can Use

A November 2011 post in Research Design Review briefly discussed the “Four Components of the Quality Framework for Qualitative Research Design” – Credibility, Analyzability, Transparency, and Usefulness.  Of the four, Usefulness is clearly the most important for two obvious reasons.  First, all research – qualitative and quantitative and across all modes – is designed to be used.  Our research efforts are meaningless if they don’t produce outcomes that actually advance the researcher and the research end-user towards a desired goal and spurs action (to actually do something).  Whether it is the discovery of new concepts to explore further, a roadmap for next steps, or insights on how to apply the research to similar contexts, any research design worth its weight is utilitarian by nature.

Second, usefulness in qualitative research is important because it is central to the other three framework components.  Research that is designed to give useful – implementable – results is also one that integrates design features that maximize: the completeness and accuracy of the data (Credibility), the completeness and accuracy of the analysis (Analyzability), as well as the completeness and fullness of disclosure in the final research documents (Transparency).   By exploiting Credibility, Analyzability, and Transparency in our qualitative designs, Read Full Text