Validity And Reliability In Qualitative Research Pdf

validity and reliability in qualitative research pdf

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Depending on their philosophical perspectives , some qualitative researchers reject the framework of validity that is commonly accepted in more quantitative research in the social sciences.

In general practice, qualitative research contributes as significantly as quantitative research, in particular regarding psycho-social aspects of patient-care, health services provision, policy setting, and health administrations. In contrast to quantitative research, qualitative research as a whole has been constantly critiqued, if not disparaged, by the lack of consensus for assessing its quality and robustness. This article illustrates with five published studies how qualitative research can impact and reshape the discipline of primary care, spiraling out from clinic-based health screening to community-based disease monitoring, evaluation of out-of-hours triage services to provincial psychiatric care pathways model and finally, national legislation of core measures for children's healthcare insurance. Fundamental concepts of validity, reliability, and generalizability as applicable to qualitative research are then addressed with an update on the current views and controversies.

Issues of validity and reliability in qualitative research

Depending on their philosophical perspectives , some qualitative researchers reject the framework of validity that is commonly accepted in more quantitative research in the social sciences. They reject the basic realist assumption that their is a reality external to our perception of it. These qualitative researchers argue for different standards for judging the quality of research. For instance, Guba and Lincoln proposed four criteria for judging the soundness of qualitative research and explicitly offered these as an alternative to more traditional quantitatively-oriented criteria.

They felt that their four criteria better reflected the underlying assumptions involved in much qualitative research. The credibility criteria involves establishing that the results of qualitative research are credible or believable from the perspective of the participant in the research. Transferability refers to the degree to which the results of qualitative research can be generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings. From a qualitative perspective transferability is primarily the responsibility of the one doing the generalizing.

The qualitative researcher can enhance transferability by doing a thorough job of describing the research context and the assumptions that were central to the research.

The traditional quantitative view of reliability is based on the assumption of replicability or repeatability. Essentially it is concerned with whether we would obtain the same results if we could observe the same thing twice. In order to estimate reliability, quantitative researchers construct various hypothetical notions e. The idea of dependability, on the other hand, emphasizes the need for the researcher to account for the ever-changing context within which research occurs.

The research is responsible for describing the changes that occur in the setting and how these changes affected the way the research approached the study. Qualitative research tends to assume that each researcher brings a unique perspective to the study. Confirmability refers to the degree to which the results could be confirmed or corroborated by others.

There are a number of strategies for enhancing confirmability. The researcher can document the procedures for checking and rechecking the data throughout the study. The researcher can actively search for and describe and negative instances that contradict prior observations.

And, after he study, one can conduct a data audit that examines the data collection and analysis procedures and makes judgements about the potential for bias or distortion. There has been considerable debate among methodologists about the value and legitimacy of this alternative set of standards for judging qualitative research.

On the one hand, many quantitative researchers see the alternative criteria as just a relabeling of the very successful quantitative criteria in order to accrue greater legitimacy for qualitative research. They suggest that a correct reading of the quantitative criteria would show that they are not limited to quantitative research alone and can be applied equally well to qualitative data.

They argue that the alternative criteria represent a different philosophical perspective that is subjectivist rather than realist in nature. They claim that research inherently assumes that there is some reality that is being observed and can be observed with greater or less accuracy or validity. Perhaps there is some legitimacy to this counter argument. Certainly a broad reading of the traditional quantitative criteria might make them appropriate to the qualitative realm as well.

But historically the traditional quantitative criteria have been described almost exclusively in terms of quantitative research. No one has yet done a thorough job of translating how the same criteria might apply in qualitative research contexts. For instance, the discussions of external validity have been dominated by the idea of statistical sampling as the basis for generalizing.

And, considerations of reliability have traditionally been inextricably linked to the notion of true score theory. But qualitative researchers do have a point about the irrelevance of traditional quantitative criteria. How could we judge the external validity of a qualitative study that does not use formalized sampling methods?

And, how can we judge the reliability of qualitative data when there is no mechanism for estimating the true score? No one has adequately explained how the operational procedures used to assess validity and reliability in quantitative research can be translated into legitimate corresponding operations for qualitative research.

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Table of Contents Measurement Qualitative Measures Qualitative Validity Qualitative Validity Depending on their philosophical perspectives , some qualitative researchers reject the framework of validity that is commonly accepted in more quantitative research in the social sciences. Traditional Criteria for Judging Quantitative Research Alternative Criteria for Judging Qualitative Research internal validity credibility external validity transferability reliability dependability objectivity confirmability Credibility The credibility criteria involves establishing that the results of qualitative research are credible or believable from the perspective of the participant in the research.

Transferability Transferability refers to the degree to which the results of qualitative research can be generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings. Dependability The traditional quantitative view of reliability is based on the assumption of replicability or repeatability.

Confirmability Qualitative research tends to assume that each researcher brings a unique perspective to the study.

Qualitative Validity

Reliability is a concept that refers to producing consistent results time after time. If you commission a qualitative research or evaluation project, how can you be sure it is reliable? If a qualitative research project is reliable, it will help you understand a situation clearly that would otherwise be confusing. Qualitative research is about discussion, about delving into topics in depth, getting beneath the surface. However, clients would not commission qualitative studies if there was no sense that the results would be reliable, that they could make confident decisions based on the results. So, how can qualitative research be conducted with reliability? There are a range of industry standards that should be adhered to to ensure that qualitative research will provide reliable results.


Validity and reliability are key aspects of all research. This is particularly vital in qualitative work, where the researcher's subjectivity can so readily cloud the interpretation of the data, and where research findings are often questioned or viewed with scepticism by the scientific community.


Validity and Reliability in Qualitative research

What are the Criteria for Inferring Causality? How do we assess reliability and validity? Reliability in qualitative research refers to the stability of responses to multiple coders of data sets. It can be enhanced by detailed field notes by using recording devices and by transcribing the digital files.

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