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CRIM 2653
Paul Baxter

Quality in Qualitative Research Design – Chapters 15-16 of Silverman MethodologicalAwareness • (284): • “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’ accounts 2. Negative cases are included 3. Alternative interpretations are considered, and some connection is made to the broader context • Researcher must convince those who were not present at the data collection stage Validity and “Anecdotalism” (286) • 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. Validating Finding • 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
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