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Importance of validity and reliability for qualitative researchers

Running head : Validity and Reliability for Qualitative Research Importance of Validity and Reliability for Qualitative Researchers Introduction Qualitative research is the most popular research procedure in the social sciences . But qualitative researchers are continuously being confronted on the issues of validity and reliability of their research results . This issue among qualitative researchers has existed for more than five decades now (Atkinson et al , 2003 . In fact , recently , the issue has radically increased and it is not just an issue in UK , but globally (Seale , 2001 . This is due in part , to the scientific community questioning the reliability and validity of qualitative research on which they hope to eventually discredit qualitative research results .The research community always calls for “scientifically based research ‘ which involves the application of “rigorous data analysis to test the stated hypothesis . Further , this “scientifically based research ‘ must be accurate and replicable to get reliable and valid knowledge . Moreover ,the “research must employ rigorous data analysis to test the stated hypothesis (ESRC , 2002 . While this maybe true in quantitative research , it is not so in qualitative research . Testing hypotheses ,replicability and accuracy of procedures are not so important issues for qualitative researchers . This is basically due to the fact that qualitative and quantitative researches are two distinct research methodologies .The Qualitative versus Quantitative Dichotomy in Research In discussing techniques in social science research , there is often an assumed dichotomy between qualitative and quantitative research . This kind of dichotomizing is questionable . Like Robert Frost , in his poem “Mending Fences ‘ one can question the wisdom of the oft-repeated saying , “Good fences make good neighbors ‘ Certainly , in research , and in social science research in particular , it is to be doubted if indeed “good fences make good neighbors ‘Human beings do like to dichotomize , probably because so much of biological life is in pairs . Binarity and equal division makes homo sapiens comfortable it enables him to get a handle on things he can then make fruitful oppositions . Perhaps the same kind of criticism can be made of the dichotomy and distinction researchers make between quantitative and qualitative research . But what is necessary and sufficient – whether one is using numbers or verbal data and verbal data gathering techniques – is insight . This beginning step is a product almost of intuition , or insight – it is not yet clear from social philosophers , phenomenologists , and psychologists whether these two are one and the same , but what is obvious is that this insight is qualitative , not quantitative . To attempt to answer a question or to verify a hunch , there is then a whole panoply of tools and techniques one needs , some qualitative , some quantitative . Hence , whether the supporting evidence is qualitative or quantitative ,the insight , which is qualitative , is supreme . One gathers data ,quantifies , tabulates , makes frequency counts , find averages , then attempts to make room for error and to discount error and discount chance occurrences by tests of significance – only because in order to support a particular stance , one needs to do that . It is never the mindless…

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