‘A comprehensive guide’ is often a very loosely used description. In this case it means what it says. Dr Hy Mariampolski’s massive and exemplary guide is just that. It is the ultimate training guide, mixing scholastic rigour with a very readable style, geared to serve as an encyclopaedic reference. There are many DIY qualitative manuals to be had in the US. What makes this different is its sheer scale and breadth of vision.

It starts with the search for a definition, moves through the philosophical and historical context and looks at what we need to know from the point of view of potential entrant, practitioner and client.The four sections on understanding qualitative research; managing qualitative research; group moderation and interviewing techniques; and analysis reporting and internal communication are packed with learning, practical advice, specific ways to achieve objectives, organisational tips and a lot of good sense.

The appendices have model documents and checklists and there are several pages of references at the end.

My only criticisms (and they do seem carping when you look at the scale of the achievement) are that there are few European sources and that an index (as distinct from a table of contents) would have been useful in a work of this size.

Dr Mariampolski admits his limits but these do seem to go beyond what we might normally expect to have to deal with. ‘A respondent... drew a gun on a fellow participant who was being somewhat confrontational but this case is too peculiar for our discussion’. We can only breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s all there and I wish that I’d had this book to draw on when I first set up my shingle as a qualitative researcher.

Qualitative Market Research - A Comprehensive Guide, by Dr Hy Mariampolski
Published by Sage Publications in hardback, 328 pages.
[<a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0761969454/associationfo-21">Buy the book at Amazon</a>]