There is more to guidelines for qualitative research reports than that proposed in Smith-Sebasto (2000). Our response to the article illustrates a range of alternatives to the position and criteria outlined by Smith-Sebasto. We draw on examples from across the wider literature to explore themes and issues regarding the purpose(s) of guidelines, their content and how they are structured. Our core argument is that deliberations on the process and product of judging the quality of qualitative research in environmental education research require the recognition of two points regularly contested within the literature on guidelines. Firstly, the existence of a wide variety of types, genres and forms of qualitative research; and secondly, the proposition that criteria for judging research quality contain within them, implicitly or explicitly, a defining view of what research is, and perhaps more contentiously, what it should be.