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Nurs Philos. 2004 Apr;5(1):4-11.

Analysing interpretation and reinterpreting analysis: exploring the logic of critical reflection.

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Institute of Health and Community Studies, Bournemouth University, Royal London House, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK.


This paper examines the distinction that is sometimes drawn between analysis and interpretation in the context of qualitative research, and the processes of critical analysis that underpin reflective practice. The authors consider the complementary logical processes involved in analysis and interpretation, and propose a cycle of reductive, inductive and hypothetico-deductive testing that is both rational and creative. The authors argue that the goal of critical reflection and qualitative data analysis is not to produce knowledge that can be justified in terms of 'correspondence' to 'reality'. Instead we propose a pragmatic, coherence view of knowledge that emphasizes the centrality of dialogue with texts, evidence, beliefs and practice. We conclude that evidence and belief are inextricably linked and that combined processes of reductive, inductive and hypothetico-deductive logic need to be used in a transparent manner to establish the credibility of an interpretation. Although there is no clear demarcation between what is found and what is constructed, a commitment to coherence is the basis of a pragmatic theory of knowledge.

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