4.7 Qualitative Rigour

Qualitative research is sometimes crticised for being biased, small scale, anecdotal, and/or lacking rigour; but, when done properly, it is impartial, in-depth, valid, dependable, believable, and rigorous. Similar to quantitive research, where validity and reliability are assessed, qualitative research may be evaluated for trustworthiness.81 Criteria used to establish trustworthiness include credibility, transferability, confirmability, and dependability.81

  • Credibility: refers to the degree to which the findings of a study are believable, trustworthy, and accurate.81,82 The “fit” between respondents’ opinions and the researcher’s depiction of them is addressed by credibility. There are a variety of approaches to address credibility, including prolonged engagement, persistent observation, data collection triangulation, and researcher triangulation.82 Peer debriefing to give an external check on the study process has also been identified to increase credibility. Another way is via member checking, which involves testing the results and interpretations with the participants.82
  • Transferability:¬† refers to the extent to which the findings of the study can be applied to other settings and contexts.81 In other words, transferability refers to the generalizability of the study. While the researcher cannot know which sites may desire to transfer the findings, the researcher must provide detailed descriptions so that people who wish to transfer the results to their own location may assess transferability.82
  • Confirmability: refers to the degree to which the research findings are objective and not influenced by the researcher’s biases or beliefs.81 It is concerned with demonstrating that the researcher’s interpretations and findings are drawn from the data, which necessitates the researcher demonstrating how conclusions and interpretations were reached.83 For people to comprehend how and why decisions were taken, researchers need to incorporate markers like the justifications for theoretical, methodological, and analytical choices throughout the study.84
  • Dependability: refers to findings that are consistent and sustainable over time.81 Researchers need to ensure the study process is rational, traceable, and thoroughly recorded. Readers are better equipped to assess the reliability of the study when they can see how the research was conducted.82,83

In the Padlet below, use a mind map to articulate your thoughts on a particular research of interest to you in your discipline/field of study.


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An Introduction to Research Methods for Undergraduate Health Profession Students Copyright © 2023 by Faith Alele and Bunmi Malau-Aduli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.