Processing the corpus with Alceste® resulted in its distribution into six distinct classes, integrating 67% of the total corpus. The factorial design splits the guidelines according to the following six classes (numbered from 1 to 6) and indicates the contextual variables most often related to them. The most significant terms for each class are also included. To make it easier to interpret the results, we numbered the four quadrants of the factorial design (A, B, C and D).
First analysis: Lexicometric analysis according to disciplines and criteria contents
Figure 1 shows that there are “independent” classes and others that are more closely linked. Classes 3 and 4 are well identified and relatively independent. Others are more intertwined, namely classes 1 and 5, and classes 2 and 6. To this combination, we must add that certain disciplinary fields appear in two different classes, which indicates a split at the heart of certain disciplines. For example, there are two different groups of psychology/psychiatry guidelines. A similar division appears in the nursing and public health guidelines, which are split between classes 2, 6 and 4.
The factorial design also shows a bipartite distribution between two types of criteria content, on the one hand focused on theoretical aspects (thedet, thegen) and the qualities of the researcher (chgen, chdet) for quadrants C and D, and on the other on the criteria relative to research methods (codet) and the general/detailed criteria of qualitative research (crigq, cridet) for quadrants A and B (Appendix X the den).
To explain the particularities identified in the factorial design and identify the specificities of each class, we must examine the semantic features specific to each class. We conducted an analysis of the significant terms (chi2) in each class, which was useful in highlighting each one’s identity and better understanding the differences and/or similarities between the guidelines, and the various distributions of the content typologies. The dendrogram (Figure 2) shows how the six classes organize themselves, with the five most significant words for each.
The classes are split into two main branches grouping together classes 1, 4 and 5 (quadrants C + D), and classes 2, 6 and 3 (quadrants A + B). In the first branch, two separate groups of psychology guidelines have different types of criteria content: for class 1 (18% of the corpus), they focused on the experience, the meaning of things and comprehension, and for class 5 (21%), on criteria linked to validation. Class 4 (16%) is more mixed and groups together part of nursing, medicine and public health. It is also more focused on practices, care, discipline and clinic. At the opposite end of the dendrogram (quadrants A + B), class 2 (16%) groups together another part of the nursing guidelines and is more focused on the analysis of existing literature, the workframe and research process; class 3 (20%) includes a group of methodology guidelines, with their content focused on practices and tools; finally, class 6 (9%) includes a small group of public health guidelines, which are very different from those in class 4 and are focused on sampling selection methods and inclusion/exclusion criteria.
These results show that the characteristics of the guidelines do not necessarily cover a classification based on disciplinary fields. Instead, what seems to connect or differentiate them relates more to the type of content of the criteria in the guidelines, or their “target content” (table 1).
Second analysis: Lexicometric analysis according to disciplines and epistemological orientations
The factorial design (figure 3) indicates a bipartite distribution between the guidelines underlying approaches that are essentially constructivist (c1) and focused on the researcher’s qualities as an integral part of the research in quadrants of C and D (classes 1, 4 and 5), and the guidelines with more post-positivist approaches that highlight the “good research practices” needed to ensure the research’s validity and objectivity, in quadrants A and B (classes 2, 3 and 6).
The dendrogram (figure 4) allows to specify this analysis. In the first branch (quadrants C + D), two classes containing psychology/psychiatry guidelines stand out: class 1 with its constructivist/interpretativist approach (c1) and its criteria focused on experience, the meaning of things and comprehension, and class 5, which is more focused on validation criteria (triangulation, member-checking) and a constructivist approach mixed with post-positivist criteria (c1, pp2). Some medicine, nursing and public health guidelines (class 4) can also be found in the constructivist/interpretativist group (c1), using criteria that are more based on practices, care, research use value and clinical contributions.
The second branch (quadrants A + B) includes guidelines dealing with a post-positivist approach: on the one hand public health guidelines (class 6) with a post-positivist approach, using certain criteria specific to the interpretativist field (pp2) and describing mostly sample selection methods and inclusion/exclusion criteria, and on the other nursing guidelines (class 2) focused on literature, work framework, research process, and being a little more related to the constructivist field (pp2,c2). As for the research methodology guidelines in class 3, they present very diverse approaches, ranging from post-positivism to post-modern (pp1,c3,c2), with their content focused on practices, tools and research techniques. In that respect, these guidelines, compared to the other groups, seem to be more linked through criteria based on methodological rigour alone, than through the discipline or paradigm.
It is worth noting that quadrant D (classes 1 and 4) mainly corresponds to the constructivist/interpretativist position (c1) while quadrant B (classes 2 and 6) mainly corresponds to the post-positivist/interpretativist position (pp2). These two quadrants include criteria from guidelines from four of the five disciplinary fields; however, quadrant C corresponds to certain criteria from the psychology guidelines only (class 5), and quadrant A to certain criteria from the research methodology guidelines (class 3).
These results show that the characteristics of the guidelines do not necessarily cover a classification based on the disciplines and that their differences or similarities are more linked to the paradigmatic and epistemological positions that underlie them. Only two classes (5 and 3) seem to be more determined by disciplinary proximity (class 5 to a lesser extent though).
Table 2 highlights how the guidelines are split according to a paradigmatic and epistemological continuum, all the while showing that the boundaries between post-positivism and constructivism are not clearly specified. The “interpretative” position seems to represent the quality criteria guidelines for qualitative research the most. We notice that there are at least two meanings to the data “interpretation » though. The first is more or less solipsistic, that is the researcher knows and can interpret the data using the right theory. The second is more specific in that the interpretation is actually a co-constructed language between the researcher/subject context. In the first case, the interpretation is linked to the examination of a preexisting reality. Linked with the literature and theory, it must explicit and explain a situation using an appropriate sample selection method. In the second case, the interpretation is linked to meaning, in connection with cultural comprehension; it calls on the researcher’s reflexivity and commitment, helps to clarify the practice and allows for useful applicability for patients.
We obtained a distribution of guidelines by “disciplinary field” and “paradigmatic and epistemological approach” that represents a bell curve (table 3).
There are only a few post-positivist (ppl) guidelines in the corpus. They generally propose similar criteria from a positivist perspective: there are some in medicine, research methodology and public health, one in nursing, but none in psychology/psychiatry. The post-positivist/interpretativist approach (pp2) is the most important in our corpus (57/133) and concerns guidelines that include criteria close to the positivist field and more interpretative criteria: they are mostly found in medical journals. Constructivist/interpretativist guidelines (c1) are not as numerous (31/133) and propose criteria specific to qualitative research, integrating contextualized constructivism and the researcher’s interpretative position: they are mostly found in the fields of nursing and medicine. Guidelines classified in the critical constructivism category (c2) are slightly less numerous (27/133) and include criteria specific to qualitative research, with a constructivist approach: they are found in all disciplines, predominantly in nursing. Finally, there is a small group of 5 guidelines that is harder to classify in the previous categories, with a profile that is often explicitly geared toward a post-modern approach (c3) and published mainly in nursing.
We note that the guidelines are mainly split into two large groups. The “post-positivist/interpretativist (pp2)” group represents half of the corpus (57/133), and then the sum of the two “constructivist (interpretativist and critical)” also represents half of the corpus (58/133). Consequently, the issue regarding the discrepancies between the guidelines may stem from the difference between these two large groups, especially in the definition of the two “interpretativist” positions.