Friday, December 3, 2010

Validity and Reliability in Qualitative Research

While writing my peer review assignment on MacMillan's "Soapbox" study I came to the conclusion that qualitative research methods are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to the concepts of reliability and validity. Qualitative research can never be completely reliable because it is ultimately up to the interpretation of the researcher and interpretations can never be standardized. Similarly, when it comes to validity, it seems pretty unlikely that qualitative research will meet minimum standards for both internal and external validity. Qualitative research can never be externally valid because it is not generalizable. Maybe it can be internally valid, but I still feel like that cannot be proven.

While doing this assignment I also read several researcher's takes on evaluating reliability and validity differently for qualitative research; using concepts such as trustworthiness instead. This really resounded with me. Quantitative research is older and more established and these concepts are clearly defined to evaluate quantitative research. It is unfair to have the same standards for a completely different type of research.

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