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Design Decisions in Research

4. The Design and Planning Phase

Validity

In qualitative research, there are different quality criteria, reflective of naturalistic inquiry aimed at holistically describing or understanding a phenomenon. The most frequently cited validity standards in qualitative research include: credibility, dependability, confirmability, and transferability (Lincoln & Guba, 1985).

Table 4

Validity Standards in Qualitative Research

Definition
Credibility Confidence in the truth of the data and interpretations.
Dependability Stability of data over time and conditions.
Confirmability Potential for congruence of interpretation between two or more persons.
Transferability Extent to which findings can be transferred to other settings or groups.

Table previously published in: Whittemore, R. & Melkus, G. (2008). Designing a research study. The Diabetes Educator, 34, 201-216.

The overall goal of qualitative research is to be “descriptively accurate and explicit” and “interpretively rich and innovative” (Polit & Beck, 2004, p. 492). Numerous strategies to enhance validity during sampling, data collection, and data analysis have been proposed (Polit & Beck, 2004; Whittemore et al., 2001). For example, persistent observation will help to ensure exploration of a phenomenon or process in depth, enhancing accuracy or credibility of results. Investigator triangulation, whereby two investigators independently code and analyze data can also enhance credibility. Thus, decisions made in the design and planning phase of qualitative research are also intended to enhance the validity of results.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2004). Nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (7th Edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Klower/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2004). Nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (7th Edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Klower/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Lincoln, Y. S. & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.