Qualitative research was originally developed within the social sciences. Medical education is a field that comprises multiple disciplines, including the social sciences, and utilizes qualitative research to gain a broader understanding of key phenomena within the field. Many clinician educators are unfamiliar with qualitative research. This article provides a primer for clinician educators who want to appraise or conduct qualitative research in medical education. This article discusses a definition and the philosophical underpinnings for qualitative research. Using the Standards for Reporting Qualitative Research as a guide, this article provides a step-wise approach for conducting and evaluating qualitative research in medical education. This review will enable the reader to understand when to utilize qualitative research in medical education and how to interpret reports using qualitative approaches.
There has been a dramatic growth of scholarly articles in medical education in recent years. Evaluating medical education research requires specific orientation to issues related to format and content. Our goal is to review the quantitative aspects of research in medical education so that clinicians may understand these articles with respect to framing the study, recognizing methodologic issues, and utilizing instruments for evaluating the quality of medical education research. This review can be used both as a tool when appraising medical education research articles and as a primer for clinicians interested in pursuing scholarship in medical education.