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date: 27 March 2023

Facets of Quality in Qualitative Researchlocked

Facets of Quality in Qualitative Researchlocked

  • Staffan LarssonStaffan LarssonLinköping University


How to judge the quality of a piece of research is a question that permeates academic work. A clear conception of quality is the backbone of the design and conduct of research, as well as the basis for supervision, manuscript review, and examination papers. Qualitative methodologies justify their usefulness through the development of more sophisticated interpretations of specific study objects than can be achieved within other methodologies. However, it is difficult to arrive at a decision concerning the quality of a piece of research because there are many aspects or facets to consider. Academics develop their competence for reaching decisions through experience, coupled with taking part in ways of reasoning about quality in qualitative research. Within this reasoning process there are a number of quality facets that should be considered. Each facet is grounded in various ways in different research traditions, and each has a foundational meaning but must also be assessed in relation to limitations. From the perspective of the text as a whole, one must consider whether it shows an awareness of the consequences of the research assumptions and other aspects of internal consistency. Ethical considerations are yet another facet. From a narrower perspective, the quality of the interpretation of empirical data must be able to capture rich meaning and present it in a structured way so that the interpretation can be clearly discerned. Another facet is how the interpretation contributes to existing knowledge about the issue or phenomenon that was studied. A classic question concerns the relation between an interpretation and the empirical basis, its credibility or validity. Here there are various facets to consider: Is the interpretation well anchored in data, and how do specific data fit when they are put together? Another facet is whether the interpretation opens up new ways of understanding an issue or process and whether more sophisticated action can result from embracing the interpretation. A proper evaluation of qualitative research should consider all facets; however, the ultimate appraisal rests on professional wisdom of the judge developed through experience and participation in deliberations related to what constitutes quality in academic texts. Determination of quality in qualitative research is not a mechanical process.


  • Research and Assessment Methods

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