The number of social work doctoral dissertations following qualitative research methods tripled in the ten year period from 1982 to 1992. The purpose of the current study was to understand the qualitative research process of 54 social work dissertations completed between 1986 and 1993. The two general reasons for following a qualitative design were the researcher's dissatisfaction with current theory to explain the studied phenomena and the desire to implement participantd riven research.M uch was written by the dissertation authors about the place of theory in qualitative research and the mutual influences between the researcher and researched. The study results were discussed within the context of current qualitative/ quantitative debates in social work. This is an important study for graduate faculty and students as qualitative research methods are being required in graduate social work education and more is being published on the expected standards of qualitative research.

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