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Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research in Nursing

Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research in Nursing

Nurses need not rely totally on doctors regarding health care, more so in the separate field of nursing. The two fields may share a common base of fundamental knowledge in medicine and health care but the skills set are entirely different and would involve a different set of literature as well. The competent nurse must be capable of delving into nursing research material at anytime that she needs it in practice or when she is upgrading herself.

The major characteristics of good research which are reliability and validity are mostly associated with the treatment of data and therefore more of quantitative research. In fact, there are even more appropriate counterpart terms for reliability and validity in qualitative research. Instead of ‘validity’, ‘truth value’ refers to the statement of researchers of their personal experiences and views which can lend to methodological bias. ‘Consistency’ and ‘confirmability’ would match with ‘reliability’. The former also connotes ‘trustworthiness’ and features a ‘decision-trail’ where the researcher’s decisions in making arguments are stated. The latter presents how the choices of methods are linked to the philosophies and perspectives that the researcher had adopted in the course of prolonged engagement with research subjects.

Some strategies to establish the above research criteria are the following (Noble & Smith, 2015).

  1. Statement of personal biases which can affect objectivity
  2. Consistent recording of ‘decision-trails’ and thought processes during data analysis
  3. Comparative studies of cases to show comprehensive coverage
  4. Generous use of ‘verbatim’ to capture accuracy
  5. Consultation with fellow researchers to moderate bias
  6. Use of data triangulation

Qualitative research though still lags in terms or rigor, methods and probity but quality is still demanded and this paper provides insights on how nurses can verify the presence of reliability and validity in qualitative data. The level of quality of the readings would be contributory to the nurse’s level of competence, or otherwise. The ability to discern is a valuable asset.



Noble H. and Smith J. (2015). Issues of validity and reliability in qualitative research. Evidence-Based Nursing, 18:34-35. Retrieved from

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