Rigour in qualitative case-study research

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To provide examples of a qualitative multiple case study to illustrate the specific strategies that can be used to ensure the credibility, dependability, confirmability and transferability of a study.


There is increasing recognition of the valuable contribution qualitative research can make to nursing knowledge. However, it is important that the research is conducted in a rigorous manner and that this is demonstrated in the final research report.

Data sources

A multiple case study that explored the role of the clinical skills laboratory in preparing students for the real world of practice. Multiple sources of evidence were collected: semi-structured interviews (n = 58), non-participant observations at five sites and documentary sources.


Strategies to ensure the rigour of this research were prolonged engagement and persistent observation, triangulation, peer debriefing, member checking, audit trail, reflexivity, and thick descriptions. Practical examples of how these strategies can be implemented are provided to guide researchers interested in conducting rigorous case study research.


While the flexible nature of qualitative research should be embraced, strategies to ensure rigour must be in place.


Cite this article as: Houghton C, Casey D, Shaw D, Murphy K (2013) Rigour in qualitative case-study research. Nurse Researcher. 20, 4, 12-17.

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