Quality in Qualitative Research Design – Chapters 15-16 of Silverman
• “Methodological awareness involves a commitment to showing as much as possible…the
procedures and evidence that have led to particular conclusions, always open to the
possibility that conclusions may need to be revised in the light of new evidence”
• Validity and Reliability are key features of methodological awareness
Validity (1 of 2) • (284): “truth…interpreted as the extent to which an account accurately represents the
social phenomena to which it refers”
• Are the inferences drawn by the researcher supported by the data?
• What is the relation between that interpretation and previous research?
Validity (2 of 2)
• Three Conditions:
1. Investigator’s theoretical claims are supported with evidence from informants’
2. Negative cases are included
3. Alternative interpretations are considered, and some connection is made to the
• Researcher must convince those who were not present at the data collection stage
Validity and “Anecdotalism”
• Small samples
• Purposive sampling
• How does one convince others that the “findings” are anything but anecdotal
observations of specifically-chosen examples?
• Seems to be particularly significant in ethnographic studies (see pg. 286)
Note: the three general weaknesses of ethnographic field studies are quite significant for
researchers who want to provide demonstrably valid findings in ethnographic studies. Finding
ways to design one’s ethnographic study with an eye on these criticisms is one way to provide
greater validity to your studies.
• The Refutability Principle • Constant Comparative Method
• Comprehensive Data Treatment
• Deviant CaseAnalysis
• UsingAppropriate Tablulations
The Refutability Principle (289)
• Validity is related to objectivity, or the claim that the findings provide the best
explanation of a state of affairs.
– Skeptical about findings: we validate something by challenging our
understanding of it in every possible way
– Absence of refutable evidence may provisionally confirm a relationship
– The relationship may be said to exist only until disconfirming evidence is found