Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research Jerome Kirk ; Marc L. Miller

Kirk and Miller define what is and what is not qualitative research, proposing a perceptive criterion: Whether or not a number gets used in the process of recording and analyzing observations is less important than whether or not the research involves sustained interaction with the people being studied in their own language and on their own turf. "Qualitative research conducted as science should complement nonqualitative science," they observe. "Understanding the workings of a scientific endeavor, whether it is of the natural or social variety, entails an appreciation of its objectivity. . . . By this convention, the objectivity of a piece of qualitative research is evaluated in terms of the reliability and validity of its observations on culture." After an introductory chapter on objectivity in qualitative research, Kirk and Miller discuss the role of reliability and validity in the unfolding of science, the problems that may arise when these two issues are neglected, and the history of ethnographic methods. They present a paradigm for the qualitative research process that makes it possible to pursue validity without neglecting considerations of reliability. This four-phase model of the ethnographic process helps qualitative fieldworkers to know "where they are in the research process at different points in time" and to "resist the temptation to study all things at once." A lively but specific research theme with visible analytic premises, a nonjargon text, and clear illustrations make Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research well suited for both the novice who wants to learn about this specific mode of social inquiry and the veteran researcher who is curious about the widening range of social science methods. ". . . the authors succeed in reopening the research enterprise in such a way that qualitative strategies are placed in a helpfully broad context." --Journal of the Market Research Society "Unlike many methods books, these volumes focus on actual research, as opposed to an idealized (untrue) version of the research process, and they will indeed be a useful introduction to the novice, as well as a useful reminder for the veteran. It is a bonus that the research projects discussed are quite interesting." --Social Forces
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