Trustworthiness in Qualitative research


Trustworthinessin Qualitative research

Trustworthinessin qualitative research is the demonstration that the evidenceprovided by the results the argument made based on the results issound and strong (Rolfe,2006). Trustworthiness in any research is of great importance becauseit makes the results valid and of high credibility and hence can beapplied in other studies. Trustworthiness in qualitative research isestablished using several attributes: Credibility, transferability,dependability, confirmability, coherence and creativity (Shenton,2004). The current essay will try to discuss each of the fourattributes and how they contribute to trustworthiness in aqualitative study. The paper will also explain how each of theattribute can be enhanced to improve the trustworthiness and qualityof qualitative research.

Credibilitycan be defined as the confidence in the certainty of the researchresults (Morrow, 2005). According to Rolfe (2006), credibilitycontributes to a belief in the trustworthiness of results throughseveral attributes. The first attribute is prolonged engagement. Whenthe participants in a study are engaged for a long time, it allowsthe researcher to collect data that is consistent hence enhancing itscredibility. The second attribute is persistent observations whereby,the researcher makes several observations to validate his or herjudgement about the patterns or trends observed. Triangulation andmember are the other two commonly used methods of establishingcredibility in a study’s results (Rolfe, 2006). According toShenton (2004), triangulation is the process in which a researcherasks the same study questions to different participants rather thanthe ones used in the research. A researcher can also performtriangulation by data collection from various sources by employingdifferent methods in answering similar research questions.

Triangulationallows a researcher to establish the consistency and validity of thedata collected hence adding to its credibility and trustworthiness.Members’ checks take place when the participants are asked toreview the collected data through questionnaires and interviews bythe researcher. The participants are also allowed to review andcriticize the researcher’s interpretation of the interview andquestionnaires’ data (Sinkovics &amp Ghauri, 2008). Member checksallow the researcher to detect all errors in the data collected andits interpretation was hence enhancing the credibility of the datacollected.

Transferabilityis the generalization of the study findings to other situations andenvironments (Morrow, 2005). Transferability enhances thetrustworthiness of a study’s results because it allows the readersto apply the findings to their own. According to Shenton (2004),qualitative researcher’s perspective is most of the time biased dueto his or her close association with the sources, data and methodsused. Therefore, to ensure generalization of qualitative results, itis important for the researcher to use various audit strategies suchas member checks and peer debriefing. Peer debriefing occurs when theresearcher works with one or several colleagues who hold partialviews of the study (Shenton, 2004). Another strategy of addressingthe issue of transferability in qualitative research is purposivesampling (Shenton, 2004). In purposive sampling, specific informationis thoroughly investigated and validated about the context in whichthe data is collected. However, it is crucial noting that unlikequantitative research, generalization is limited in qualitativeresearch.

Dependabilityis the attribute that allows a researcher that the results areconsistent and can be repeated in other future studies (Sinkovics &ampGhauri, 2008). A research’s findings are said to be dependent ifthe inquiry process used over time is stable and consistent. Toensure that the findings of a research are dependent, a researcherhas to take great care in the whole process of collecting,interpreting and reporting the findings to avoid making any errors.To enhance the finding’s dependability, the researcher shouldensure that the logic used for selecting the study participants anddata collection methods is clearly presented (Sinkovics &amp Ghauri,2008). The higher the consistency of the researcher during theresearch process, the more reliable the results are.

Onecommon technique for assessing the dependability of a research’sfinding is known as dependability audit (Shenton, 2004). In thistechnique, an independent auditor reviews the researcher`s activitiesto establish whether the viability and generalization standards wereappropriately followed. Therefore, there is a need for anyqualitative researcher to keep an audit trail in the form of fieldnotes and reports toenable dependability audit that proves the trustworthiness of thestudy results. If the researcher fails maintaining and form of audittrail, it is impossible to assess the attribute of dependability,this impacts negatively on the trustworthiness of the study findings(Sinkovics &amp Ghauri, 2008).

Confirmabilityis a degree of impartiality in the sense that findings obtained fromthe qualitative studies are affected by the respondents, and not biasfrom researcher, self-interest or pre-conceived ideas (Rolfe, 2006). In qualitative research, it is believed that each researcher bringsan inimitable perspective in the existing literature. According toMorrow (2005), the results of a study meet the attribute ofconfirmability when they are confirmed or substantiate by otherpeople. There are various methods aimed at enhancing comfortability.The researcher at the beginning can document procedures forinspecting as well as re-inspecting data during the research. Also,the researcher can search for as well as elaborate on the negativeinstances contradicting the observations made before. Finally but notthe least, the research can opt to conduct a data audit investigatingthe level of authenticity of collected data as well as analysisprocedures. The data audit enables the researcher to make correctjudgements about the potential for bias and hence. According to Rolfe(2006), stud results that are credible, reliable and can betransferred to other contexts are easily confirmed by other people.

Coherenceand creativity are the other two attributes that are used to assessthe trustworthiness of qualitative study findings. According to Rolfe(2006), results are said to be coherent if the research approachtaken is consistent. One method of establishing coherence inqualitative findings is by investigating whether the method chosenfits the purpose of the study. According to Shenton (2004), aresearcher should be careful when choosing the method of study toensure it can fit the purpose of the study to enhance the coherenceand consequently the trustworthiness of the findings. A goodresearcher is expected to be creative meaning he or she should beflexible in the research design. Findings from an innovative researchdesign are original and unbiased hence trustworthy (Sinkovics &ampGhauri, 2008).


Fromthe paper, it is clear that to trustworthiness is an essentialcomponent that determines the quality and validity of the qualitativeresearch findings. Attributes such as transferability, dependability,credibility, confirmability, coherence and creativity are used toassess the trustworthiness of a qualitative research. There are manytechniques used, but one mostly used is dependability audit. In thistype, an independent auditor reviews the researcher’s activitieswith the aim of establishing whether the viability, as well asgeneralization standards, were appropriately followed. The other isconfirmability, which is a degree of impartiality. This is in thesense that findings obtained from the qualitative studies areaffected by the respondents, and not bias from the researcher,self-interest or pre-conceived ideas. A researcher should take greatcare to avoid any errors throughout the study process to ensurecredibility and dependability of the study findings. Also, it isimportant for the research to choose carefully the method of study,the participants, data collection and analysis procedures to ensurethe findings can be transferred to other contexts and supported byother scholars.


Morrow,S. L. (2005). Quality and trustworthiness in qualitative research incounselling psychology. Journalof counselling psychology,52(2),250.

Rolfe,G. (2006). Validity, trustworthiness and rigour: quality and the ideaof qualitative research. Journalof advanced nursing,53(3),304-310.

Shenton,A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitativeresearch projects. Educationfor information,22(2),63-75.

Sinkovics,R. R., &amp Ghauri, P. N. (2008). Enhancing the trustworthiness ofqualitative research in international business. ManagementInternational Review,48(6),689-714.

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