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Establishing the validity of Qualitative Research

Category : Research
Date : May 31, 2016

There has been an issue with validity of qualitative research, at all times. It is a more commonly accepted concept in quantitative research. However, keeping aside validity, qualitative researchers have different standards for judging the quality of a research.

Since qualitative research has its own distinctive characteristics that set it apart from quantitative research, researchers have proposed a different set of criteria that can be used for judging the soundness of qualitative research. Though, different perspectives are available on this, and many different criteria are considered, let’s look at the most commonly used parameters for the same:

Credibility: The results of the qualitative research have to be credible or believable from the perspective of the participant. Because qualitative research has the key objective to describe and understand the phenomenon from the eyes of the respondent, they become the crucial and the most critical judge to evaluate the credibility of the research.

Transferability: By transferability in context to qualitative research, we understand that to what capacity can we generalise the finding or the results of the research or, how much can they be applied to another set of circumstances or situation?  It is in the hands of the researcher to enhance the transferability of qualitative research; by doing a more thorough job of describing the research and the assumptions that were integral to research.

Dependability:  It is difficult, or if we may say, nearly impossible to replicate the results of qualitative research. The measure of dependability for the same, can be assessed and measured on account of every changing context within which the research takes place. Within the research itself, it should be clearly specified that with changes in the existing setting, how the approach to research would be changed or modified?

Confirmation: Since qualitative research has a strong element of subjectivity in it, researcher can improve the validity of the research by documenting the procedures for checking and rechecking the data in the study, throughout. Bringing out the negative instances and conducting a data audit can also be a very good option to take up as it increases the confirmation on the findings of the research by the researcher.

In the absence of formalised sampling method, judging the reliability of qualitative research can actually be a task, particularly in the absence of standardized procedures. However, some of these parameters can actually help in establishing a strong validity of qualitative research.


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