Intended for healthcare professionals


An open letter to The BMJ editors on qualitative research

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 10 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i563

Re: An open letter to The BMJ editors on qualitative research

That a journal as important and prestigious as the BMJ fails to take account of the value of qualitative research is disappointing and seems somewhat rooted in dated thinking.

Health is inextricably linked to factors that may be better described by qualitative (or mixed methods) work, supporting our understanding of how conditions and life is experienced by individuals and groups. This in turn affects how we work with such individuals.

Clearly, and for very good reasons, the editors will want to maintain the highest of standards but that does not exclude qualitative work, far from it.

Often misattributed to Einstein but in fact it was likely to be William Bruce Cameron who first wrote:

"It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." (Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking. 1963)

It would be wonderful to think that future generations of researchers could rely upon the BMJ for the broadest possible, relevant and high quality research, however the method is named.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 February 2016
Mark Holloway
Brain Injury Case Manager, Expert Witness and Doctoral Researcher
Head First, Kent TN18 4AS