Quality & Quantity

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 881–892

Generalization practices in qualitative research: a mixed methods case study


DOI: 10.1007/s11135-009-9241-z

Cite this article as:
Onwuegbuzie, A.J. & Leech, N.L. Qual Quant (2010) 44: 881. doi:10.1007/s11135-009-9241-z


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 researchGeneralizationStatistical generalizationAnalytic generalizationSamplingSample sizeInterpretive consistencyMixed methodsSequential mixed methods analysisCase study

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Leadership and CounselingSam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado DenverDenverUSA