The quality of a research study is a measure of the study’s ethical soundness. Ravitch and Carl (2016) refer to research ethics as being relational because it considers the humanity of all involved, the dynamics of the relationships between the participants and between the participants and the researchers themselves. It addresses issues of identity, power, and context and requires thoughtful self-reflection and willingness to be open with oneself as well as with others. As Flick (2018) puts it, ”… quality is seen as a precondition for ethically sound research,” (p. 10). Quality research is trustworthy and credible. Lincoln and Guba (1985) outlined the criteria necessary to achieve trustworthiness of a qualitative study as one that has credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability (Nowell, Norris, White, & Moules, 2017; Shenton, 2004), and Cope (2014) said, “Trustworthiness or truth value of qualitative research and transparency of the conduct of the study are crucial to the usefulness and integrity of the findings,” (Connelly, 2016, p. 435). Quality, trustworthiness, and credibility are interdependent in that all three must exist for any one of them to exist.
Triangulation of data collection such as using interviews, focus groups, and observation is a strategy that improves the credibility of data because the limitations of one approach are addressed by the strength of a different approach (Shenton, 2004, p. 65). Site triangulation of data may also be accomplished by using many sources and then comparing the responses to others. For example, if I were to use interviews of eight minority business owners to gather data on their perceptions of police legitimacy, I could compare the responses across race and ethnicity to identify common themes. Likewise, if I were to conduct focus groups of the business owners’ spouses or significant others along the same lines I could lend more credibility to my data. Peer scrutiny and ongoing reflexive commentary are valuable tools to increase trustworthiness and therefore credibility and overall quality (p. 67-68). The most important strategy to improve credibility is member checks. The participants can read the transcripts of their interviews to ensure they are accurate and can read the researchers’ inferences that result from the interviews to verify the inferences comport with what they intended to convey (p. 68). Thematic analysis is a data analysis method that can be both flexible enough to be used for the various types of qualitative research and add credibility and trust to the results by following a six step outline: familiarizing yourself with your data; generating initial codes; searching for themes; reviewing themes; defining and naming themes; and then producing the report (Nowell, Norris, White, & Moules, 2017, p. 4).
Quality, trustworthiness, and credibility of qualitative research are necessary both internally and externally for qualitative studies. Internally they bolster the acceptance of the field of qualitative research as a science and externally they increase the prospects of funding and the attention of policy makers (Flick, 2018).
Connelly, L. M. (2016). Understanding Research. Trustworthiness in qualitative research. MedSurg Nursing, 25(6), 435-436. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org…
Flick, U. (2018). How to manage and assess the quality of qualitative research. In U. Flick, & U. Flick (Ed.), Managing Quality in Qualitative Research (2nd ed., Vol. 10, pp. 1-11). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Ltd.
Nowell, L. S., Norris, J. M., White, D. E., & Moules, N. J. (2017). Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16, 1-13. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/16094…
Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: Bridging the onceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22, 63-75.