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Untimely Feline Demise & Qualitative Research Validity
While doing research for the Grounded Theory and Ethnography assignment for Week 6 of this class, this researcher happened across, “Guilty of loving you: A multispecies narrative” by Nordstrom, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom (2018). This qualitative narrative research study is about the death of the author’s cat. While the research topic is strange enough on its own, the truly amazing part occasions itself in the authors listed second and third (respectively) in the byline. Amelie Nordstrom is the cat who died, and Coonan Nordstrom is the surviving cat of the primary author Susan Naomi Nordstrom. Possessed by an almost morbid curiosity with this unbelievable report, this researcher admits to reading the entire study from start to finish, coming away with more questions than answers. Obviously, the primary question would pertain to the lack of oversite present to prevent such a frivolous project to go forward, but more related to our topic this week is how can any of the findings of this qualitative report be tested for validity and/or reliability?
Creswell and Poth (2018) seek to understand qualitative validity by examining two questions: “Is the account valid, and by whose standards” (p. 414) and “How do we evaluate the quality of qualitative research” (p. 414)? Quantitative researchers often use terms such as “internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity” (Creswell & Poth, 2018, p. 415) to judge the quality of a particular study. In the quantitative context, this would mean that internal validity checks help to ensure that the processes being described actually unfold the way the researcher claims they will within the context of that study (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Instead of internal validity, Creswell and Poth (2018) point to Lincoln and Gruba (1985)’s use of the term “credibility” for qualitative research. The term credibility should speak to whether the reader can reasonably be expected to believe the information that is presented within the study (Creswell & Poth, 2018). External validity, therefore, would refer to whether the relationships and processes described by the researcher in that particular project can be successfully used in other contexts or with similar or broader audiences (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Here, Lincoln and Gruba (1985) (as in Creswell & Poth, 2018) suggest “transferability” for qualitative research, suggesting that this word helps denote the idea of whether or not the results of the research are likely to apply to additional populations with the same characteristics to the one that was studied. Reliability describes whether the results from the study are likely to be duplicated if the study was performed again (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Creswell and Poth (2018) point again to Lincoln and Gruba (1985) in suggesting that “dependability” appropriately describes that likelihood of repeatability of the qualitative research that quantitative researcher often refer to as “reliability.”
Creswell and Poth (2018) provide three validation strategies to help qualitative researchers confirm the validity of the research and each of their three strategies has three subsequent approaches to guide the researcher. Their “Researcher’s Lens” strategy consists of : corroborating evidence by triangulating the data through multiple sources, identifying and highlighting existence of contradictory evidence, and clearly identifying researcher bias (Creswell & Poth, 2018). Their second strategy is called “Participant’s Lens” and recommends: seeking participant and research subject feedback, spending as much time as possible engaging with the subjects in the field, and building a strong collaborative relationship with the participants (Creswell & Poth, 2018). The final strategy they refer to as “Reader’s or Reviewer’s Lens” and recommend: undertaking external audits, developing “rich, thick” descriptions, and undergoing peer review (Creswell & Poth, 2018).
The United States Air Force has developed a set of “core values” to attempt to instill common values in a diverse group of Airmen who come from an innumerable variety of different backgrounds: “Integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do” (Air Force Core Values, 2015). For the Christian, these principles seem familiar, and the Bible is replete with verses that could have served as their inspiration. “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything more than this comes from evil” (Matthew 5:37, ESV). Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). As Christian researchers, we must strive to make these values the core of our work knowing that the work that we are doing very well may be evaluated by researchers of all faiths and backgrounds. A Christian researcher who cuts corners, fudges data, or any other type of dishonesty brings dishonor on not only themselves, but on their testimony to the saving power of Christ in their life.
Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among
five approaches. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Lincoln, Y.S., & Gruba, E.G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Nordstrom, S. N., Nordstrom, A., & Nordstrom, C. (2018). Guilty of loving you: A multispecies
narrative. Qualitative Inquiry, , 107780041878432. doi:10.1177/1077800418784321
The Air Force Core Values (2015). Retrieved from:
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