Generalizability, a marker of reliability, is typically not a main purpose of qualitative research because the researcher rarely selects a random sample with a goal to generalize to a population or to other settings and groups. Rather, a qualitative researcher’s goal is often to understand a unique event or a purposively selected group of individuals. Therefore, when speaking of reliability, qualitative researchers are typically referring to research that is consistent or dependable (Lincoln & Guba, 1985), i.e., the extent to which the findings of the study are consistent with the data that was collected.
Qualitative Research Designs
Criteria for Evaluating Qualitative Studies
The most effective criteria for evaluating qualitative research is one that acknowledges the conceptual background underlying the research. These criteria vary by the methods used. The two main criteria for judging qualitative studies as put forward are validity and relevance. Though it has conflicted over several times, validity remains a valid determinant of the quality of a certain research. It determines the credibility, dependability, and confirmability of the qualitative studies. To ensure the effectiveness of validity, it can be assessed through three consecutive steps. Lewis (2015), recommends asking whether the results are reasonable enough, whether the researchers judgment of the research is accurate regarding the nature of the circumstances, the phenomena at hand and the researchers attributes; finally, if the credibility of the results cannot be asserted, the validity’s evidence should be examined.
Regarding criterion number two, relevance, Lewis (2015), suggests the application of relevance rules as outlined in Abt’s book on the costs and benefits of applied social research. These rules require one to be very evenhanded and emphasize the focus on effects that are most policy-oriented. The rules also advise that in the case of a dilemma where you are required to choose between the direct and most intricate expression of ideas, you should choose the former (Lewis, 2015). The other rule states that sorting out and analysis of descriptions should be done carefully, weighing in your opinions. Apart from that, one should be ready to get their hands dirty by working in between the concepts as well as being interdisciplinary. Lewis (2015), has also described the techniques that should be employed to assert the quality of the study. According to him, prolonged engagement followed by persistent observations and triangulation are the first steps. This should then be followed by peer debriefing and audit trial.
As Lewis (2015), suggests, the ontological and epistemological conventions of qualitative study are not the only approaches that differ when it comes to these two criteria. Sometimes these criteria are based on conflicting and unrelated assumptions. From a psychological perspective, validity criteria can be seen as a conflicted art interacting with an imaginary world and therefore, requires cracking of unconscious and unsaid dilemmas (Lewis, 2015). Therefore, the analysis is based on talk and it is not ethical to try to deduce hidden meanings. Indeed a diversity of research queries, the number of people involved and the of analysis methods that are employed. Therefore, judging qualitative study based on validity requires standardized selectivity (Lewis, 2015). As such it crucial for qualitative researchers to show coherence and make their conclusions clear for easier evaluation. Additionally, to this, the field of qualitative study is wide, and there is not one single method that can be termed as the sole criteria (Lewis, 2015). Each study differs from the other, and therefore, researchers should be open to application of other criteria of evaluation. The researchers require a profound understanding of theoretical approach using the most applicable evaluative method (Lewis, 2015).
Researcher-participant interactions are inevitable in qualitative studies, but the progression of such a relationship to intimacy becomes an ethical issue. As a result, it brings about a range of ethical concerns that can affect the design of decision making for both the researcher and the participant. For such cases, arguments and disagreement among the different shareholders in the research emerge and this results in conflicts (Chenail, 2010). More so this can significantly affect major aspects of the research such as anonymity, discretion, and informed consent. Also, when a funding body questions the integrity and discipline of the researcher they might decide to terminate their aid which is not noble for the researcher (Chenail, 2010). They should, therefore, be very careful when carrying out their research and put this issues into considerations. They should also minimize the activities that can lead them to intrude their participant’s lives unnecessarily. They should also not coerce unwilling participants to talk or give information that they consider private. The results lead to incorrect data as the participants may feel the need to lie (Chenail, 2010).
When you say that a research topic is amenable to scientific study, it means that both the qualitative and the quantitative studies are complementary. They can, therefore, be used together to give out improved results. Scientific research involves quantitative analysis while the qualitative analysis applies to cultural and social situations (Chenail, 2015). The two can, however, be integrated to give more accurate and efficient results. Also, qualitative investigations can occur for example the quality of existence can be conducted by utilizing quantitative research analysis. Furthermore, it can be done by using questioners that are numerical based (Chenail, 2015). However, if the researcher is interested in more detailed aspects of an individual’s life, the qualitative analysis is more appropriate. As stated by Lewis (2015), these two methods were used by Danish Health and Technology Assessment Council to evaluate the essence of follow-up for cancer patients. The combination of the two yielded better results than when one them was used.
Chenail, R. J. (2010). Getting Specific about Qualitative Research Generalizability. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 5(1), 1-11.
Lewis, S. (2015). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Health promotion practice, 1524839915580941.