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Qualitative diaries: uncovering the complexities of work‐life decision‐making

Laura S. Radcliffe (People, Management and Organizations, Manchester Business School, Manchester, UK)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 16 August 2013




The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of qualitative diary methods in the context of research on the work‐family interface.


The diary method was used, in conjunction with semi‐structured interviews, to collect data from 24 dual‐earner couples over a one month period.


The diary method revealed important new insights into how couples managed their work‐family balance on a daily basis by allowing the researcher access to rich episodic data that would not have been available using more traditional approaches. This is particularly important in the area of work and family given its dynamic nature.

Research limitations/implications

The use of this method is time consuming, requires a great deal of dedication from participants and usually results in large quantities of complex data to be analysed. Despite this the suggestion is that this approach is highly valuable in work‐family research in providing a more in‐depth understanding of how these two domains are negotiated.


This paper contributes to the literature on effective qualitative research and explores important areas of consideration for those conducting qualitative diary studies. It is intended to be of use to researchers investigating the area of work and family, as well as to those interested in using qualitative diaries in their research.



Radcliffe, L.S. (2013), "Qualitative diaries: uncovering the complexities of work‐life decision‐making", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 163-180.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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