Aim To provide an overview of important methodological considerations that nurse researchers need to adhere to when choosing phenomenology as a guiding philosophy and research method. Background Phenomenology is a major philosophy and research method in the humanities, human sciences and arts disciplines with a central goal of describing people's experiences. However, many nurse researchers continue to grapple with methodological issues related to their choice of phenomenological method. Data sources The author conducted online and manual searches of relevant research books and electronic databases. Review methods Using an integrative method, peer-reviewed research and discussion papers published between January 1990 and December 2011 and listed in the CINAHL, Science Direct, PubMed and Google Scholar databases were reviewed. In addition, textbooks that addressed research methodologies such as phenomenology were used. Discussion Although phenomenology is widely used today to broaden understanding of human phenomena relevant to nursing practice, nurse researchers often fail to adhere to acceptable scientific and phenomenological standards. Cognisant of these challenges, researchers are expected to indicate in their work the focus of their investigations, designs, and approaches to collecting and analysing data. They are also expected to present their findings in an evocative and expressive manner. Conclusions Choosing phenomenology requires researchers to understand it as a philosophy, including basic assumptions and tenets of phenomenology as a research method. This awareness enables researchers, especially novices, to make important methodological decisions, particularly those necessary to indicate the study's scientific rigour and phenomenological validity. Implications for research/practice This paper adds to the discussion of phenomenology as a guiding philosophy for nursing research. It aims to guide new researchers on important methodological decisions they need to make to safeguard their study's scientific rigour and phenomenological validity.
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