Qualitative Research Evaluation Criteria
Reliability in any type of study suggests that the study must be stable, or the researcher’s propensity to constantly re-code similar data similarly as outlined in the study every time the research is done is possible. Reliability can thus be referred to as replicability or duplicability of the same data over a duration of time; for a research study to be relied on by the reader, the researcher must ensure that the same type of data is reproduced each time that the data is gathered and analyzed. The same data collection methods and analysis technique should be applied to maintain consistency and identify any deviation from the previous study; to generalize the study, a researcher would therefore need to design it to allow that kind of replicability. This would be very challenging when it comes to the replication of qualitative studies.
This is because the researcher must identify study subjects that precisely measure the variables of interest and determine the process of collecting and analyzing the data; as far as qualitative research is concerned, replicability of these processes would be impossible since the researcher’s bias is allowed. Validity is concerned with the test measure that is what the researcher wants a certain data collection method to gather; to determine the validity of a particular data collection method, a pre-test is carried out by the researcher. The researcher carries out pre-tests to identify whether a certain data collection tool is reliable. For example, when using a questionnaire, the researcher can carry out a test before the actual data collection to identify if the questions in the questionnaire form meet the research objective and if they would collect the intended variables of the study If the questionnaire measures what the researcher want then the data collection tool is valid. This much, the qualitative research can be able to identify this criterion. On the other hand, a questionnaire can be reliable but not valid, so the researcher must be very careful in designing a questionnaire form.
Validity and reliability are more objective approaches that are used in the evaluation of a research study and would be more suitable for quantitative types of research studies rather than qualitative research. Because the criteria of validity, reliability, and replicability are challenging to achieve in a qualitatively designed research, a researcher should put more effort into ensuring that the element of trustworthiness and relevance compensate for this loss and are more strongly reflected in a qualitative study. Trust in qualitative research has to do with issues of honesty, integrity, and truthfulness in each and every aspect of the research study and is a requirement that is best addressed by the research ethics that are universal which must be abided by when undertaking research in the social sciences field.
To address trustworthiness in qualitative research, the researcher must, for instance, inform the study subject of the true intention of the study and obtain their consent beforehand; additionally, a researcher should not manipulate data interpretation with the intention of misconstruing facts since a large aspect of the qualitative research involve subjective interpretation of the data, naturalistic terms such actions as credible, dependable, conformable, and transferability in the evaluation of the qualitative research. A qualitative researcher must assume the existence of numerous realities and try to present these numerous realities sufficiently by accurately portraying them in the research study findings in good faith and with the utmost integrity.
This is especially important when you consider that the personal perceptions of the researcher and their understanding of the phenomena being investigated are what will eventually end up influencing the findings of the study as well as the students of such studies; this way, credibility can be established. Credibility is determined by the richness of data collected and investigative capability of the researcher and can be enhanced through the use of triangulation, “member checks,” and making raw data available for others to do their analysis.
But the researcher cannot claim the transferability of results in this case since his only purpose is to provide adequate information that the reader can use to decide whether the result is relevant to the emerging issues. The transferability will depend on the extent of resemblance between the study subjects in the context of their social world, which is also the other reason that replicability of qualitative data cannot easily be achieved.
The evaluator or a critic assesses the research process and the results of the study for consistency by use of “inquiry audit,” which enhances the dependability of qualitative research; a “conformability audit” can also be carried out by the researcher to show the neutrality of the study interpretations that are used in the auditing process. An objective study such as quantitative would thus be most suitable to criticism and can be expected to conform well to the elements of replicability and reliability. In the same way, trustworthiness and relevance would be most suited to qualitative research due to its design, and it is, therefore, my opinion that the best way to evaluate this particular type of research design is by way of trust and assessment of how relevant that the research is to the issues being investigated.