Table 1

Iconic publications marking the qualitative revolution in the social sciences5 20 27 34–38

Author(s) and publicationImportance of the research
Becker et al, Boys in white: student culture in medical school 34 An early study employing qualitative research referenced by Denzin and Lincoln’s11 in their ‘Second Movement of Qualitative Research’ or ‘Modernist Phase’ (p16). Considered the first in the ‘golden age of rigorous qualitative analysis’ (p17) and includes Anselm Strauss as a coauthor.
Garfinkel, Studies in ethnomethodology 35 Influenced by his study of the Human Relations Area Files, a compendium of cross-cultural research on more than 330 groups across the globe housed at Yale University, sociologist Harold Garfinkel outlines the methods for understanding how people make sense of their daily lives and negotiate social interaction.
Glaser and Strauss, The discovery of grounded theory 23 Also part of the golden age of rigorous qualitative analysis referenced above, sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss develop a method to generate theory from data where little previous research exists. Identified by Merriam and Tisdell8 as one of the two most influential works in the qualitative tradition.
Blumer, Symbolic interactionism: perspective and method 36 Building off the work of George Herbert Mead, Chicago School sociologist Herbert Blumer further popularises the theoretical approach of symbolic interactionism that serves as one of the theoretical pillars of qualitative research.
Geertz, The interpretation of cultures: selected essays 5 Anthropologist Clifford Geertz borrows the terms ‘thick and rich description’ from philosopher Gilbert Ryle and underscores the importance of interpretive approaches to the study of human social behaviour. Credited by Glaser and Strauss23 for pioneering an early form of constant comparison in his study of Indonesian societies.
Guba, Toward a method of naturalistic inquiry in educational evaluation. CSE monograph series in evaluation, 837 Identified by Merriam and Tisdell8 as one of the two most influential works in the budding qualitative tradition, educator Egon Guba helps launch the naturalistic (qualitative) paradigm of enquiry and research in the modern era.
Spradley, The ethnographic interview 20 Anthropologist James Spradley advances the developmental research sequence consisting of 12 major steps for conducting an ethnographic study. Focuses on the ethnographic interview.
Spradley, Participant observation 38 As above, but focuses on participant observation.
Lincoln & Guba, Naturalistic inquiry 27 Educators Yvonne Lincoln and Egon Guba coin the term trustworthiness to recast quantitative evaluative criteria of internal and external validity, reliability, and generalisability with qualitative procedures of credibility, dependability, confirmability and transferability. Lends increasing rigour to the qualitative research enterprise.