This paper, the first in a pair, describes the development and use of a research tool designed to not only derive the “usual” research patterns from analysis and synthesis of data, but also to extend that research outcome into useful lessons and instructions for others to act on in the non-research world. Research is essentially about finding and explaining patterns to help us understand phenomena and to measure similarities and differences. Pattern also has other useful attributes – as tools, templates, and instructive advices – that tend not to be given as much attention in research. The tool discussed in this paper seeks an easy-to-use “close fit” between these two uses of pattern. It enabled maximum engagement by the research participants, in-depth exploration of the area between the abstract (theory) and the concrete (practice) of the issue at hand, and development of useful instructive advices for others to use. It comprises an original design that can be adapted for use in other research with similar aims. A second paper, in a subsequent edition of The Qualitative Report, describes the development of the subsequent “pattern language” of instructive advices.


Pattern, Qualitative Research, Research Tools, Semi-Structured Interviews, Dialogue Space

Author Bio(s)

Greg Paine PhD. is an environmental planner with extensive experience in local government. His research sought to translate the “whole” of sustainable development into actions manageable at local and personal levels. Currently he works with the Healthy Built Environments Program at the City Futures Research Centre, University of New South Wales. Meanwhile his work on pattern is being developed into a book manuscript and a forthcoming interactive website www.revealingpattern.com. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Greg Paine at E-mail: gregory.paine@bigpond.com


The assistance to this research of a Hawkesbury Postgraduate Research Award through the Centre for Research in Healthy Futures at the University of Western Sydney, the supervision by Emeritus Professor Valerie A. Brown, and the active contributions of the research participants is gratefully acknowledged.

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