Quality & Quantity

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 881-892

First online:

Generalization practices in qualitative research: a mixed methods case study

  • Anthony J. OnwuegbuzieAffiliated withDepartment of Educational Leadership and Counseling, Sam Houston State University Email author 
  • , Nancy L. LeechAffiliated withUniversity of Colorado Denver

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The purpose of this mixed methods case study was to examine the generalization practices in qualitative research published in a reputable qualitative journal. In order to accomplish this, all qualitative research articles published in Qualitative Report since its inception in 1990 (n =  273) were examined. A quantitative analysis of the all 125 empirical qualitative research articles revealed that a significant proportion (i.e., 29.6%) of studies involved generalizations beyond the underlying sample that were made inappropriately by the author(s). A qualitative analysis identified the types of over-generalizations that occurred, which included making general recommendations for future practice and providing general policy implications based only on a few cases. Thus, a significant proportion of articles published in Qualitative Report lack what we call interpretive consistency.


Qualitative research Generalization Statistical generalization Analytic generalization Sampling Sample size Interpretive consistency Mixed methods Sequential mixed methods analysis Case study