A fish labeled 'Accurate Data' swimming in a sea labeled 'Context'.

Qualitative Data Validations

Tip: Have participants review a summary of the results for credibility. For example, after a focus group discussion, the facilitator can quickly summarize the major takeaways from the discussion, which participants can, at that time, validate.

Tip: Thoroughly describe the evaluation context and the assumptions that were central to the evaluation.

Tip: Describe any critical changes that occurred in the project/program and related areas (e.g., the hiring of a new high level staff member) and how these changes affected the way the evaluation team approached the study.

Tip: Have another evaluator take a "devil's advocate" role and actively search for and describe any negative instances during the data collection or in the data that contradict reported prior observations.1

Rationale: Criteria for judging the quality of quantitative research focus on validity and reliability; however some qualitative researchers, most famously Guba and Lincoln2, argue that there are different criteria for judging the quality of qualitative research. These are credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. While there has been debate among methodologists about the value of an alternative set of standards for judging qualitative research, since qualitative research cannot easily be considered an extension of the quantitative paradigm into the realm of nonnumeric data, it is important to consider these standards in the assessment of qualitative analysis.3

1 Trochim, W.M.K. (2006). Qualitative validity. Research Methods Knowledge Base.
2 Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). “Paradigmatic controversies, contradictions, and emerging influences” In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd ed.), pp. 191-215. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
3 Trochim, W.M.K. (2006). Qualitative validity. Research Methods Knowledge Base.