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Published: 17-12-2019

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Qualitative Rigor in Research

The rejection of reliability and validity in qualitative inquiry in the 1980s has resulted in an exciting shift for “”ensuring rigor”” from the investigator’s actions throughout the course of the investigation, to the reader or customer of qualitative inquiry. The emphasis on techniques that are implemented in the course of the analysis method has been replaced by techniques for evaluating trustworthiness and utility that is implemented once a study is completed.

Without rigor, study is worthless, becomes fiction, and loses its utility. Challenges to rigor in qualitative inquiry interestingly paralleled the blossoming of statistical packages and the improvement of computing systems in quantitative research. Rather than explicating how rigor was attained in qualitative inquiry, a number of top qualitative researchers argued that reliability and validity had been terms pertaining to the quantitative paradigm and were not pertinent to qualitative inquiry (Altheide & Johnson, 1998 Leininger, 1994).

In seminal function in the 1980s, Guba and Lincoln substituted reliability and validity with the parallel notion of “”trustworthiness,”” containing four aspects: credibility, transferability, dependability, and conformability. Within these had been distinct methodological methods for demonstrating qualitative rigor, such as the audit trail, member checks when coding, categorizing, or confirming results with participants, peer debriefing, adverse case analysis, structural corroboration, and referential material adequacy (Guba & Lincoln, 1981 Lincoln & Guba, 1985 Guba & Lincoln, 1982).

Credibility: The credibility criteria entails establishing that the benefits of qualitative investigation are credible or believable from the viewpoint 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: showing that the findings are constant and could be repeated.

Confirmabilit : Confirmability refers to the degree to which the benefits could be confirmed or corroborated by other individuals.

Techniques to guarantee rigor inherent in the research approach itself had been back staged to these new criteria. This shift from constructive (throughout the method) to evaluative (post hoc) procedures occurred subtly and incrementally. Now, there is often no distinction in between procedures that decide validity in the course of inquiry and these that give study outcomes with such credentials. We are also concerned that by refusing to acknowledge the centrality of reliability and validity in qualitative techniques, qualitative methodologists have inadvertently fostered the default notion that qualitative study have to therefore be unreliable and invalid, lacking in rigor, and unscientific (Morse, 1999).

Reliability and Validity: The nature of information inside the rationalistic (or quantitative) paradigm is various from the understanding in naturalistic (qualitative) paradigm. Consequently, each and every paradigm demands paradigm-specific criteria for addressing “”rigor”” (the term most frequently utilized in the rationalistic paradigm) or “”trustworthiness””, their parallel term for qualitative “”rigor””. They noted that, inside the rationalistic paradigm, the criteria to attain the purpose of rigor are internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity. On the other hand, they proposed that the criteria in the qualitative paradigm to ensure “”trustworthiness”” are credibility, fittingness, auditability, and confirmability (Guba & Lincoln, 1981).

They advised distinct methods be employed to attain trustworthiness such as adverse circumstances, peer debriefing, prolonged engagement and persistent observation, audit trails and member checks. Also critical had been characteristics of the investigator, who should be responsive and adaptable to altering circumstances, holistic, getting processional immediacy, sensitivity, and capacity for clarification and summarization (Guba & Lincoln, 1981).

Strategies for establishing credibility: Prolonged Engagement : Spending enough time in the field to discover or understand the culture, social setting, or phenomenon of interest.

Persistent Observation: the goal of persistent observation is to identify these traits and components in the circumstance that are most relevant to the issue or issue becoming pursued and focusing on them in detail. If prolonged engagement supplies scope, persistent observation offers depth”” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 304).

Triangulation : Triangulation involves making use of multiple data sources in an investigation to create understanding.

Peer debriefing: Through analytical probing a debriefer can help uncover granted biases, perspectives and assumptions on the researcher’s element.

Adverse case analysis: This includes searching for and discussing components of the information that do not assistance or seem to contradict patterns or explanations that are emerging from data analysis.

Referential adequacy: Maintaining a portion of raw information and archive it to enable the researcher and other critics to access it later for the goal of testing evaluation of the material.

Member-checking: This is when information, analytic categories, interpretations and conclusions are tested with members of these groups from whom the data have been initially obtained.

Inquiry audit: It requires getting a researcher not involved in the investigation process examine each the approach and solution of the analysis study.

Confirmability audit : It requires possessing a researcher not involved in the research method examine both the procedure and solution of the investigation study.

Audit trail : An audit trail is a transparent description of the research steps taken from the start of a research project to the development and reporting of findings.

Triangulation : A single strategy can never ever adequately shed light on a phenomenon. Making use of a number of techniques can support facilitate deeper understanding.

Reflexivity: Whilst some may possibly see these various techniques of knowing as a reliability problem, others really feel that these various methods of seeing supply a richer, more created understanding of complicated phenomena. )

This resulted in a plethora of terms and criteria introduced for minute variations and conditions in which rigor could be applied. Probably as a outcome of this lack of clarity, standards have been introduced in the 1980’s for the post hoc evaluation of qualitative inquiry (see Creswell, 1997)

Problems with post-hoc evaluation (development of Standards)


Even though requirements are a complete approach to evaluating the investigation as a entire, they stay mainly reliant on procedures or checks by reviewers to be used following completion of the research. But utilizing requirements on completion of the project at a time is of least significance as by then it is also late to right troubles.

Compounding the dilemma of duplicate terminology is the trend to treat requirements, goals, and criteria synonymously. For example, Yin (1994) describes trustworthiness as a criterion to test the high quality of analysis style, while Guba and Lincoln (1989) refer to it as a goal of the study. Whilst strategies of trustworthiness may be helpful in attempting to evaluate rigor, they do not in themselves guarantee rigor. Whilst requirements are useful for evaluating relevance and utility, they do not in themselves ensure that the analysis will be relevant and useful. We argue that approaches for ensuring rigor need to be built into the qualitative investigation process per se. These methods contain investigator responsiveness, methodological coherence, theoretical sampling and sampling adequacy, an active analytic stance, and saturation.

Verification Approaches in Qualitative Investigation


In qualitative research, verification refers to the mechanisms utilized in the course of the procedure of study to incrementally contribute to making sure reliability and validity and, as a result, the rigor of a study.

Investigator Responsiveness: It is the researcher’s creativity, sensitivity, flexibility and talent. The lack of responsiveness of the investigator at all stages of the research procedure is the greatest hidden threat to validity. Lack of understanding may possibly be due to – overly adhering to directions, the inability to abstract, working deductively from previously held assumptions.

Guaranteeing methodological coherence: Congruence between the analysis question and the components of the method is to be ensured. Information might demand to be treated differently so that the query may possibly have to be changed or methods modified.
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