Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research
May 24th, 2010 by Frank LaBanca, Ed.D.

The trustworthiness of a qualitative study can be increased by maintaining high credibility and objectivity. A research definition of trustworthiness might be: “Demonstration that the evidence for the results reported is sound and when the argument made based on the results is strong.” In order to maintain high trustworthiness in a qualitative study, Krefting (1991) suggested four criteria to ensure valid interpretation of data: truth value, applicability, consistency, and neutrality. In the qualitative approach, truth value is measured by credibility: having an adequate engagement in the research setting so recurrent patterns in data can be properly identified and verified. Applicability is established with transferability: allowing readers to be able to apply the findings of the study to their own situations. Since a qualitative researcher’s perspective is naturally biased due to his or her close association with the data, sources, and methods, various audit strategies can be used to confirm findings (Bowen, 2009; Miller, 1997). Therefore, trustworthiness of (a) interpretations, and (b) findings are dependent on being able to demonstrate how they were reached (Mauthner & Doucet, 2003).

I saw the following comic strip and thought that it was worthy to share from the qualitative paradigm philosophy. Confirmability (confirming the thoughts/biases/results) is critical in qualitative research. Let it go and the findings are suspect at best.


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