Qualitative research has much to offer, not just as an adjunct to quantitative or mixed methods, but as a leader in particular studies. QCR’s role and applicability partly depend on recognition of its conceptual and methodological challenges. The field could benefit from consistent and rigorous self-inquiry. More conceptual and methodological rigor is needed. Among the conceptual challenges are the following: non-consensus on what constitutes core principles of qualitative inquiry; overreliance on quantified approaches; tendency to see qualitative research as an illuminating supplement, rather than a potential stand-alone contributor; and resistance to mixed models of research. Among methodological challenges are: non-understanding of scientific basis and methods of ethnography and other qualitative research approaches; problems in analyzing, interpreting and integrating subjective data; and difficulties in achieving validity, reliability and generalizability. Grappling with these challenges is aided by vigilance in linking a project’s conceptualization, aims, questions and methods. QCR’s challenges and resolutions occur within theoretical, methodological and analytical frameworks.