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Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research

Oct 11 class reading Crim 321 (Kinney, Fall 2011)

Quant v. Qual
Tensions Goals quant reliability, validity Quality in qualitative research trust, belief, coherence Perhaps need for new language?

Qual validity? Qual reliability?

Credibility, trustworthiness Neutrality or confirmability Consistency or dependability Applicability or transferability Lincoln & Guba (1985: 290; see p 601 in Golafshani 2003)

How to test or asses?

Triangulation is key for Golafshani

Mix methods (to move to similar senses of value as quant generalizability) Some warnings re: mixing methods though Multiple realities can get trumped/lost/obscured (e.g., Barbour 1998) Especially when constructivist paradigms are operating

Triangulation, reflexivity

Solutions to qualitative handlings of validity Compare this reading with the conclusion of Wainwright that reflexive practice is best

A reading of Wainwrights Can sociological research be qualitative, critical and valid?


lemma: acceptance at a cos

qualitative (SocScis) and general/academic acceptance via improved ways of handling validity/reliability researcher detachment researched voice accepted as unquestioningly valid/legit

ecent improvements, exposure, discussion of QUA but:

what is gained...

by adjusting QUALs handling of validity-type issu

wider readership from more empirical, traditional disciplines

e.g.: medical sociology, criminology, geograph etc.

something of the scepticism of positivistic and pos positivistic view of QUAL has dissipated

what is lost...

by morphing the handling of validity in qualitative erms into more social science based methods ha ost the possibility for genuine CRITICAL work

no room for establishing rapport [as we need to be distant, aloof]

no way to problematize our subjects discourse; it must be taken as is, an objective measure of a phenomena

data as now particular occurrences, isolated from

tructural and historical conte

A little bit of Hegel [dialectics, idealism]

A little bit of Marx [dialectics, materialism]

ole of (social) consciousness, awareness

moments of awareness can yield conflict with historical givens, status quo,and thus the only possibility for change, even conciseness

empiricism,(post-)positivism: enjoys a privileged discourse consensus (consciousness) accepts their moral legitimacy


enlightenment, reason, rationality & empiricism; modernity idealism now seen as dangerous spirituality or even sophistry; a contra- discourse that is ultimately destructive

alidity as a scientific construc

definitions of valid research necessarily changes ov ime progress metaphors standards, professionalisation, growth, accumulation of scientific understanding and techniques good science now, vs. 19-c, or even 1950s

if definition changes, validity is not truly objecti

reading the (changing) world

f methods of determining validity are in flux

so too are other methods: observation, collection, classification

herefore: we cannot objectively measure/count/describe all such attempts are situationally constructed

people in context likely are not conscious of traditional pressures to conform and adopt status

so what to do

f I cant count things, describe them and treat these seriously as found (cant take context for granted)

f I cant find (or worse, make) meaning via traditio methods and appeals to validity?

REFLEXIVE practice

do pure observation BUT add context, theory an literature

the researchers self-awareness (topical, method

for your qual research review

pp. 10-17 (last section) walks you through setting u and doing a qualitative research project via reflexiv practice

consider this for your research review

and of course, your own projects!