Twelve tips for using Pattern Matching in data analysis for qualitative medical education research

Petramay Attard Cortis (Lead / Corresponding author), Fiona Muir

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Pattern Matching (PM) is a data analysis method used in qualitative research. This article outlines a step-by-step approach to using PM to analyse qualitative data through the example of the author’s experience in its use for a master in medical education dissertation. The recommended twelve tips, outlined as steps to be used sequentially in the PM process are: (1) Assess if PM is a suitable technique for you and your research, (2) Consider alternatives, (3) Decide to proceed with PM, (4) Perform literature review, (5) Reflect about your experiences, (6) Define Propositions, (7) Collect your data, (8) Code data, (9) Match data to propositions, (10) Celebrate congruency, (11) Explain discrepancies and, (12) Discuss relevance and utility of findings in your context. PM, when rigorously applied, can increase the internal validity and transferability of qualitative research in medical education. A clear data analysis protocol enhances reliability and dependability of any research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1213
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Teacher
Issue number11
Early online date16 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Medical education research
  • data analysis
  • pattern matching
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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