Memoing in qualitative research: Probing data and processes

by M. Birks, Y. Chapman, K. Francis
Journal of Research in Nursing ()


This paper explores memoing in the context of qualitative research methodologies. The functions of memos in the research process are discussed and a number of techniques for employing memo writing to enhance the research experience and outcomes are examined. Memoing is often discussed in the literature as a technique employed in grounded theory research, yet there is limited exploration of the value of memo writing in qualitative methodologies generally. Memoing serves to assist the researcher in making conceptual leaps from raw data to those abstractions that explain research phenomena in the context in which it is examined. Memos can be effectively employed by both the novice and experienced researcher as a procedural and analytical strategy throughout the research process. Data exploration is enhanced, continuity of conception and contemplation is enabled and communication is facilitated through the use of memoing. While guidelines exist to aid in the production and use of memos, memoing remains a flexible strategy wherein the process of construction and nature of content is determined by the preferences and abilities of the researcher and the aims and focus of the specific research study.

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