Why undertake a pilot in a qualitative PhD study? Lessons learned to promote success
Evidence & Practice Previous     Next

Why undertake a pilot in a qualitative PhD study? Lessons learned to promote success

Jane Wray PhD student, Faculty of Health Studies, University of Bradford, UK
Uduak Archibong Professor of diversity and director of the Centre for Inclusion and Diversity, University of Bradford, UK
Sean Walton Academic developer, Quality and Enhancement Office, University of Salford, UK

Background Pilot studies can play an important role in qualitative studies. Methodological and practical issues can be shaped and refined by undertaking pilots. Personal development and researchers’ competence are enhanced and lessons learned can inform the development and quality of the main study. However, pilot studies are rarely published, despite their potential to improve knowledge and understanding of the research.

Aim To present the main lessons learned from undertaking a pilot in a qualitative PhD study.

Discussion This paper draws together lessons learned when undertaking a pilot as part of a qualitative research project. Important methodological and practical issues identified during the pilot study are discussed including access, recruitment, data collection and the personal development of the researcher. The resulting changes to the final study are also highlighted.

Conclusion Sharing experiences of and lessons learned in a pilot study enhances personal development, improves researchers’ confidence and competence, and contributes to the understanding of research.

Implications for practice Pilots can be used effectively in qualitative studies to refine the final design, and provide the researcher with practical experience to enhance confidence and competence.

Nurse Researcher. 24, 3, 31-35. doi: 10.7748/nr.2017.e1416



Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 14 July 2015

Accepted: 08 April 2016

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now