VIEWPOINT: GETTING YOUR QUALITATIVE SERVICE RESEARCH
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Services Marketing. 2020, 34 (1), 111-116. 10.1108/JSM-11-2019-0444
A manuscript that uses the right quotes to illustrate an interesting phenomenon allows the reader to get close and personal with the informants and events that inspired the researcher(s). This intimacy means that the reader can see the world through the eyes of the researcher(s) or, even better, the eyes of the informants. The reader might even go beyond solely reading the text and experience an “A-ha!” moment (Bansal and Corley, 2011). Qualitative research is great for addressing questions about what or how something occurred and for unraveling processes from the perspective of the informant. This paper takes a broad view on what constitutes excellent qualitative research, akin to the idea that “qualitative methodology is as much art as it is effort, piles of data, and time in the field” (Tracy, 2010, p. 841). By excellent research, we mean investigations that are meaningful, well conducted, well reported and useful – i.e. topical research with sound, significant findings for the research community and simultaneously beneficial for others outside academia. In other words, we consider excellent research as research with high academic and practical credibility. Typically, but not exclusively, the former quality means that one’s publications are highly cited, and the latter stands for valuable suggestions for more informed decision-making, new practices and pertinent policy-making. In no way should this paper be interpreted as strict rules governing the evaluation and review process. Every study is unique and should be judged on its own merits. However, this paper has been influenced by our reviewing thousands of manuscripts as editors and associate editors for journals such as Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Service Management, Journal of Business Research and Journal of Service Research, and as reviewers for all major journals for service research. The discussion is organized around five key features that define excellent research: relevance, rigor, integrity, narration and impact. It is our hope that this paper can help authors reflect on their own research and turn it into excellent qualitative service research.