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As you recall from earlier weeks, various philosophical orientations hold unique epistemological and ontological assumptions. These assumptions return to the forefront of attention when considering how to evaluate the rigor or quality of various qualitative research designs.

Typically, when speaking of validity, qualitative researchers are referring to research that is credible and trustworthy, i.e., the extent to which one can have confidence in the study’s findings (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). 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.


Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

For this Discussion, you will explain criteria for evaluating the quality of qualitative research and consider the connection of such criteria to philosophical orientations. You will also consider the ethical implications of designing qualitative research.

With these thoughts in mind:


Post an explanation of two criteria for evaluating the quality of qualitative research designs. Next, explain how these criteria are tied to epistemological and ontological assumptions underlying philosophical orientations and the standards of your discipline. Then, identify a potential ethical issue in qualitative research and explain how it might influence design decisions. Finally, explain what it means for a research topic to be amenable to scientific study using a qualitative approach.

Be sure to support your Main Issue Post and Response Post with reference to the week’s Learning Resources and other scholarly evidence in APA Style.


Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 597–606. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol8/iss4/6

Burkholder, G. J., Cox, K. A., Crawford, L. M., & Hitchcock, J. H.  (Eds.). (2020). Research designs and methods: An applied guide for the scholar-practitioner. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Chapter 12, “Quality Considerations”
Chapter 13, “Ethical Considerations”

Smith, J. K. (1984). The problem of criteria for judging interpretive inquiry. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 6(4), 379–391.
​The problem of criteria for judging interpretive inquiry by Smith, J. K. in Educational evaluation and policy analysis, 6(4), 379-391. Copyright 1984 by Sage Publications-Journals. Used with permission of Sage Publications-Journals via the Copyright Clearance Center.




Research Theory, Design, and Methods Walden University

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 1 of 3

Trustworthiness (Lincoln & Guba, 1985)

Trustworthiness is 1. The extent to which one can have confidence in the study’s findings 2. Parallel of reliability, validity, and objectivity in traditional “quantitative”

research Trustworthiness Criteria Credibility

Findings and interpretations are plausible to the “researched” (the participants) Do findings accurately reflect reality as seen by participants?


Applicability of findings based on comparability of contexts Are conditions similar enough to make findings applicable?


Account for factors of instability and change within the natural context Document naturally occurring phenomena (stability and change)


Capacity to authenticate the internal coherence of data, findings, interpretations, and recommendations Document “researcher as instrument” and potential sources of bias

Research Theory, Design, and Methods Walden University

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 2 of 3

Insuring Trustworthiness Action Description Insures Prolonged engagement

Investing sufficient time to learn the culture, build trust with stakeholders, understand the scope of target phenomena, and test for misinformation/misinterpretation due to distortion by the researcher or informant

Credibility (internal validity)

Persistent observation

Continuing data collection process to permit identification and assessment of salient factors, and investigation in sufficient detail to separate relevant (typical) from irrelevant (atypical)

Credibility (internal validity)


Data collection and analysis interpretation based on multiple sources, methods, investigators, and theories

Credibility (internal validity)

Peer debriefing

Engage in analytic discussions with neutral peer (e.g., colleague not involved in the project)

Credibility (internal validity)

Member checks

Test veracity of the data, analytic categories (e.g., codes), interpretations, and conclusions with stakeholders to ensure accurate representation of emic perspectives

Credibility (internal validity)

Thick description

Describe procedures, context, and participants in sufficient detail to permit judgment by others of the similarity to potential application sites; specify minimum elements necessary to “recreate” findings

Transferability (external validity)

Audit trail

Records that include raw data; documentation of process and products of data reduction, analysis, and synthesis; methodological process notes; reflexive notes; and instrument development/piloting techniques

Dependability Confirmability (reliability and objectivity)

Negative case analysis

Investigate “disconfirming” instance or outlier; continue investigation until all known cases are accounted for so that data reflects range of variation (vs. normative portrayal)

Credibility (internal validity)

Research Theory, Design, and Methods Walden University

© 2016 Laureate Education, Inc. Page 3 of 3

Action Description Insures Reflexive journal

Researcher’s personal notes; documentation of researcher’s thinking throughout the research process

Credibility (internal validity) Transferability (external validity) Dependability Confirmability (reliability and objectivity)

Referential adequacy

Archiving of a portion of the raw data for subsequent analysis and interpretation, for verification of initial findings and conclusions

Credibility (internal validity)

References Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA:


  • Trustworthiness
    • Trustworthiness is
    • Trustworthiness Criteria
    • Insuring Trustworthiness
      • Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.