<< Ascertaining Truth   |   WEBLOG   |   What's In A Name... II >>

Verifying Truth

Adapted from Shirley Agostinho's paper, Implementing Naturalistic Inquiry in Web-Based Learning Research:

TO DEMONSTRATE RIGOUR of the research process (how well the process leads to "truthful" and accurate findings), at least two of these nine proposed verification procedures need to be conducted in any study:

1. Prolonged engagement
2. Persistent observation
3. Triangulation
4. Peer debriefing
5. Negative case analysis
6. Member checks
7. Thick description
8. Access to an audit trial
9. Reflexive journal


1. Prolonged engagement

"Prolonged engagement, is the investment of sufficient time to... learning the 'culture,' testing for misinformation…and building trust." (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 301).

2. Persistent observation

"The purpose of persistent observation is to identify those characteristics... most relevant to the problem or issue being pursued and focusing on them in detail. If prolonged engagement provides scope, persistent observation provides depth." (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 304).

3. Triangulation

"Triangulation leads to credibility by using different or multiple sources of data (time, space, person), methods (observations, interviews, videotapes, photographs, documents), investigators (single or multiple), or theory (single versus multiple perspectives of analysis)." (Erlandson et al. 1993, p. 137-138).

"The degree of convergence attained through triangulation suggests a standard for evaluating naturalistic studies. In other words, the greater the convergence attained through the triangulation of multiple data sources, methods, investigators, or theories, the greater the confidence in the observed findings. The convergence attained in this manner, however, never results in data reduction but in an expansion of meaning through overlapping, compatible constructions emanating from different vantage points." (Erlandson et al. 1993, p. 139).

4. Peer debriefing

"Peer debriefing helps build credibility by allowing a peer... who has some general understanding of the study to analyze materials, test working hypotheses and emerging designs, and listen to the researcher's ideas and concerns. In such sessions, the researcher thinks aloud and explores various hypotheses, while the peer debriefer asks probing questions, plays devil's advocate, and provides alternative explanations. Such sessions also allow the researcher to vent frustrations and emotions that may cloud the research. The peer debriefer can listen sympathetically to these feelings, defusing as many as possible, and help the inquirer devise coping strategies." (Erlandson et al. 1993, p. 140). "There is no formula to prescribe how a debriefing session should be conducted." (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 308).

5. Negative case analysis

"Negative case analysis may be regarded as a 'process of revising hypotheses with hindsight.' The object... is continuously to refine a hypothesis until it accounts for all known cases without exception" (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 309).

"The researcher refines working hypotheses as the inquiry advances... in light of negative or disconfirming evidence. The researcher revises initial hypotheses until all cases fit, completing this process late in data analysis." (Creswell, 1998, p. 202).

6. Member checks

- Informal (during data collection)
- Formal (after findings are written)

"The member check, whereby data, analytic categories, interpretations, and conclusions are tested with members of those stakeholding groups from whom the data were originally collected, is the most crucial technique for establishing credibility....Member checking is both informal and formal, and it occurs continuously." (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 314).

"Member checking may be conducted at the end of an interview ... may be conducted in interviews by verifying interpretations and data gathered in earlier interviews ... may be conducted in informal conversations with members ... Before submission of the final report, a member check should be conducted by furnishing entire copies of the study to a review panel of respondents and other persons in the setting being studied." (Erlandson et al. 1993, p.142).

7. Thick description

"The description must specify everything that a reader may need to know in order to understand the findings (findings are not part of the thick description, although they must be interpreted in the terms of the factors thickly described)" (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 125).

"The question of what constitutes 'proper' thick description is, at this stage in the development of naturalist theory, still not completely resolved....the criteria that separate relevant from irrelevant descriptors are still largely undefined." (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 316).

8. Access to an audit trial

"The audit trail leads to dependability and confirmability by allowing an auditor to determine the trustworthiness of the study. It is important that adequate records be kept during the study" (Erlandson et al. 1993, p. 148).

"To provide for a check on dependability, the researcher must make it possible for an external check to be conducted on the processes by which the study was conducted. This is done by providing an 'audit trail' that provides documentation (through critical incidents, documents, and interview notes) and a running account of the process (such as the investigator's daily journal) of the inquiry." (Erlandson et al., 1993, p. 34)

"The audit trail... also enables an external reviewer to make judgments about the products of the study. An adequate trail should be left to enable the auditor to determine if the conclusions, interpretations, and recommendations can be traced to their sources and if they are supported by the inquiry." (Erlandson et al., 1993, p.35) Lincoln and Guba (1985, p. 319-320) describe six categories of records that should be made available. Erlandson et al. (1993, p.148-151) also provides a description of audit trail data.

9. Reflexive journal

"[The reflexive journal is] a kind of diary in which the investigator... records a variety of information about self... and method....that include the following:
(1) the daily schedule and logistics of the study;
(2) a personal diary that provides the opportunity for catharsis, for reflection... and for speculation about growing insights; and
(3) a methodological log in which methodological decisions ... are recorded. Entries should be made on a daily basis in the daily schedule and personal diary, and as needed in the methodological log." (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 327).


by tree#138680 on Fri Mar 26 04 12:21 am | profile

COMMENTS

name
Email
Location
Homepage


Show email   Remember me

Notify me when someone replies to this post?

Powered by pMachine