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 EPI 240

Qualitative Research Methods
EPI 240 Fall 2015 (1.5 units)


Qualitative methods have long played an important role in the social sciences, including anthropology and sociology. In these fields, observational methods are common and qualitative approaches are integrated into research training. In the last few decades, qualitative methods have become more prominent in public health, health services, and clinical research. These fields have typically favored experimental and quasi-experimental designs, so clinical and translational researchers interested in qualitative methods may benefit from tailored research training.

This course is designed to provide such a tailored training via a practical and hands-on introduction to the use of qualitative methods in health-related research. By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Delineate the epistemological differences between qualitative and quantitative research approaches and describe the theoretical and practical implications of these differences for a research project;
  • Describe the basic characteristics of at least 3 qualitative approaches and analyze which approaches are appropriate to address a particular research question;
  • Use 1 qualitative approach to collect data for a question-driven research project; and
  • Undertake elementary analysis of qualitative data, including coding, using computer assisted qualitative data analysis.

Designing Clinical Research (EPI 202). Exceptions to this prerequisite may be made with the consent of the Course Director, space permitting.


Course Director:

Dan Dohan, PhD
Campus Phone: 415-476-0751
email: daniel.dohan@ucsf.edu


Wendy Anderson, MD
email: wendya@medicine.ucsf.edu


Class time will consist of brief introductory lectures, group discussion of readings and assignments, and collective analysis of data. Sessions will take place on Thursdays from 2:45 PM to 4:45 PM, Sept. 17 through Nov. 19.

Students are expected to arrive on the first day of class with a preliminary research idea that involves the collection and analysis of qualitative data. We will collectively discuss progress, problems, and ideas each week, culminating in a final paper or proposal.

All course materials and handouts will be posted on the course's online syllabus.


The Journalist and the Murderer. Malcolm, Janet. 6th ed. New York: Vintage, 1990. Note: This book should be read before the first meeting of class.

Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches by John W. Creswell. Sage Publications. 3rd Edition. 2012. Note: We'll read this throughout the quarter.

Books may be purchased either through the publisher or a variety of commercial venues (e.g., Amazon.com).


Grades will be based on weekly assignments and a final project. The final project is designed to encourage students to employ a particular qualitative method to a problem relevant to the student's ongoing research project or particular interest.

Students not in full-year TICR Programs who satisfactorily pass all course requirements will, upon request, receive a Certificate of Course Completion.


This course is open to a limited number of individuals outside of the ATCR and Master's programs. Preference is given to UCSF-affiliated personnel. We regret that auditing is not permitted. To enroll in this course please fill out and submit the application below. Cost and submission information are in the application.

Application (Word doc, 20KB)