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The Question of Validity in Qualitative Research

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It seems that many qualitative researchers have still not contextualized the role of validity in qualitative analysis.This article enumerates three factors that must be taken into account: (1) The philosophy of science within which one works, (2) the discipline to which one belongs, and (3) the subfield of specialization that one pursues. Most researchers have encountered the question of validity within the context of empirical science, but validity does not have the same role within a phenomenological philosophy of science. Within the discipline of psychology, certain subfields ignore the validity issue for good reasons (e.g., experimentation in psychophysics) and other subfields specialize in developing strategies for validity. This article analyzes the reasons that the specialty of "test construction" focuses so strongly on validity issues and concludes that phenomenological qualitative research is not at all similar to the situation one finds in test construction. Rather, phenomenological qualitative research is closer to experimental situations and so the validity issue is not as pressing as is often supposed. The article ends with two different Husserlian perspectives on a theory of knowledge.


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