[Air-l] validity of the research

david_eddy_spicer at harvard.edu david_eddy_spicer at harvard.edu
Wed Aug 7 18:28:24 PDT 2002


Aurelija raises a question that echoes the "paradigm dialogue" over the
past quarter century--debates  among qualitative and quantitative
researchers about what counts for truth, what it means to know.

[Up on soapbox] Questions of validity are fundamental to the logic of your
research, which points to what you're asking and how you set about to
answer it. There's no one right answer (i.e., validity =  "triangulate");
validity is the mortar of your overall approach. There are also different
kinds of threats to validity, ranging across whether you captured what you
thought you captured to whether you've considered alternative explanations
to understand what you found.

[Down from soapbox] "...just trust..." isn't enough, but what _is_ ?
Especially when you've given up on notions of objective truth, as I assume
you have if you're doing some kind of interpretive analysis of online
exchanges.

Here's what educational researcher Joe Maxwell has to say: "[T]he idea of
objective truth isn't essential to a theory of validity that does what most
researchers want it to do, which is to give them some grounds for
distinguishing accounts that are credible from those that are not."
(Qualitative Research Design, p. 87).

So then, what's credible? The answer lies in the integrity of your
design--how different facets--theory (and the epistemology that implies)
and methodology--come together to form a whole.

David



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Subject:[Air-l] validity of the research


hello :)

Introducing qualitative research in the seminar, I was asked a question
about the validity of online researches: how may we trust the results, when
we don't get non-verbal information and how can we be sure whether the
respondent says the truth or lies... I usually use additional methods for
validation, such as observation or interviews IRL, but in some cases I (and
possibly other researchers too) just trust, what my respondents say and
build my conclusions on their words... so I wanted to ask, how do you deal
with the question of validity doing the research online?

Regards
Aurelija Dagilyte


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