Beyond description to interpretation and theory in qualitative social work research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This article describes analytic procedures that build upon one another and lead toward interpretation and theory construction in qualitative social work research. Using examples from my own research and the research of others, I show relationships between descriptions, analysis, interpretation, and theorizing. Analytic procedures that move researchers beyond description include reflexivity statements, fieldnotes, group analysis of data, creative thinking, and making conscious choices about when and how to add conceptual material in design and analysis. My thesis is that descriptions are the foundation of both interpretation and theory construction and that descriptions themselves are not simple to do.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-752
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research on which this article is based was funded through the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; the St. Paul Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; and the Department of Community Human Services, Ramsey County, Minnesota, USA.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015.


  • Qualitative research
  • descriptive research
  • interpretation theory construction
  • qualitative analysis
  • qualitative social work research


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond description to interpretation and theory in qualitative social work research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this