TOOLBOX

Based on our results, we suggest a TOOLBOX of criteria deemed consensual for the various health science fields examined (Table 1), while taking into account the diversity of the characteristics of each criterion according to these fields.

Table 1: TOOLBOX containing the consensual criteria according to the disciplinary fields

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Criteria Characteristics and conceptions Consensual definition
Theoretical framework Explicit/identified
adequate/appropriate/relevant; clear, explained, described, explored, justified applicable; theoretical and conceptual framework
The theoretical framework must be explicit in the text. The reader must understand how it is adapted to the method and question. It must be justified logically.
Research question Formulated and established
described/defined/justified; clear, format, relevant; original
The research question must be formulated clearly. It must be justified logically in regards to the method and research exposed. It must display some originality compared to the existing one.
Goals/Objectives Formulated, explicit
clear/clarification
appropriate, original; problem and question
The objectives must be explained and stated. They must be precise. They must be linked to the problem and research question logically. It must display some originality compared to the existing ones.
Literature (review) Examined appropriately
critical attitude, pertinent; identified, defined
The existing literature must be exposed, with critical hindsight. It must be presented clearly and comprehensibly in the field. It must match the research question and objectives (relevant).
Methodology/ Method/Design Appropriate character, congruence among the research elements
description, explicit (detailed, described, stated, documented); related to justified, defendable and reasons for choicerigour, procedural rigour; philosophical foundations, theoretical orientationrelevance; validity; feasibility and credibility; explanation, transparency
The methodology must be congruent with the research elements collected. It must be explicit and include details on the steps and procedures to follow (including verbatim). The methodology must be written precisely to show its feasibility and the credibility of its procedures.
Sampling Strategies; characteristics (type, characteristics, size, description)
recruitment ; appropriate, relevant ; representativeness, argumentation, situated
The sampling must be described very clearly: its characteristics, recruitment method, representativeness and originality. It must be argued in such a way as to show its relevance and how it suits the type of research and method used.
Data Data collection ; quality, presentation;
saturation, methods, processes,
processing, systematicity, validity; triangulation; selection, complexity, depth ; explicit, transparency (transparent, made public), separate from private data, retention
The data collection method must be presented in such a way as to show the data qualities and limitations. It must be detailed and precise. The data must be presented in a way that makes them visible. They must be presented separately from personal and theoretical considerations, to allow for their existence and analysis to be verified.
Analysis Process/strategy described, “made public”, transparent sequence of steps
insightful, obstacles ; precise, validity, relevance; rigour, reliable, appropriate; systemic, depth/breadth
The analysis method must be explicit and linked to the data and research question. It must be clear and detailed enough to observe that the data has indeed been processed systematically. The reader must be able to follow each step of the analysis logically.
Reflexivity Role/perspective/researcher’s self-awareness
researcher/participant relationship; objectivity, confirmability
The researcher’s role in the production of results must be described as well as his/her relationship with the participants and research theme.
Credibility Validity, reliability ; triangulation, participant feedback
transferability/generalizability; negative cases ; confirmability; explicitquantitative evidence, dependability; relevance, rigour, sensitivity, thoroughness; saturation, literature review; examples, consistency, applicability, transparency, systematicity
A researcher’s credibility is based on the logical consistency that exists between the theoretical reference, research question, collection techniques and data analysis. This logic must be as explicit as possible, and must present the verification methods used such as the triangulation of data and analyses, the search for negative cases and the feedback given to participants.
Transferability Generalization
confrontation with other literature ; context
The level of generalization of the results must be specified. The context in which the results would be transferable must appear clearly.
Ethics Committee authorization; duties/respect toward participants; consent
reflexivity; applicable concept, defined, integrity, safeguarding of rights; ethical issue, transparency, confidentiality, explicit
Research ethics must be respected and clearly established, including the approval of an ethics committee, the consent of subjects and confidentiality. The researcher’s commitments toward his/her subjects must be explicit.

In general, the 12 criteria follow the logical course of a research plan, whether it is quantitative or qualitative. Also, most of the criteria are the same for quantitative and qualitative research; however, we note that two criteria are specific to qualitative research, that is, reflexivity and credibility. Others, although shared, may have a specific meaning for qualitative research, such as the sampling methods, data collection methods and the conduct of analyses.

Finally, we can also note that the weight of the validity of qualitative research is placed on the logical consistency between the different steps, as well as on the transparency of these steps, that is, the way in which they were made explicit. “Reflexivity” and “credibility” remain specific criteria that are hard to transfer to quantitative research. The researcher’s position toward the research process and the subject under investigation and the awareness he or she has of the impact he or she has on the procedures and results remain questions that are hard to process and translate into a research. This includes his or her involvement as a researcher belonging to a given culture and the weight of the participation of a third party in any social or human situation. This participation changes the initial situation and, as such, becomes a factor that must be considered in the research results. Also, the credibility of a research (validity for the peers) cannot be established according to statistical reports but rather according to the way in which the researcher highlighted all the procedures, the relevance of his or her material and the logic that connects this material to his or her analyses. Credibility also refers back to the question of “transferability”. To know the level of transferability of the results, the reader must be fully informed and know of all the steps involved in the qualitative procedure to be able to conduct a new research with other participants in a similar context. Finally, “research ethics” is a criterion shared by all, but with a slight difference between the disciplinary fields. On the one hand, the administrative ethical procedures inherent to research must be followed regularly, and on the other, the researcher’s position with regards to her or her research subjects must be explained. Qualitative research ethics are not only a question of procedures and protocols to follow for the researcher’s legal protection, but also a researcher’s position with regards to his/her commitment toward his/her subjects.