Saturday, 1 January 2011

Validity and Reliability of a Phenomenological Methodology

Validity and reliability within qualitative research compared to quantitative has been widely debated. As phenomenology’s ground is in the lived experience of a phenomena, its validity is held within understanding that experience as experienced. Jasper (1994) describes this as understanding the phenomenon from the “accounts of those who have experienced it” and revealing “the 'essence' of an experience” p312). This differs from a broader generalizable research paradigm of explanative or predictive results from objective reality, “thus a question of generalizability within phenomenology is inappropriate in that the researcher does not intend to produce a theory of general application at the outset. On the contrary, ‘the purpose of phenomenology as a research method is to generate concepts and theories' which can then be tested using other methods” (p313). Therefore within a phenomenological methodology it’s validity is in the revealed essence, and its truth is contained, in my study’s case, in the visual hermeneutic circle of interpretation. The reliability of interpretation may be quantifiably problematic, but by keeping as closely to each participant’s felt experience from their interview and observation data, my methodology will prove both valid and reliable. As with qualitative research my method will be transparent and therefore its rigour will be clear.

References used:

JASPER, M.A. (1994) Issues in Phenomenology for Researchers of Nursing. Joumal of Advanced Nursing,19, 309-314