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Keywords:

  • qualitative research;
  • representativeness;
  • establishing credibility;
  • nursing research

Establishing the credibility of qualitative research findings: the plot thickens

Qualitative research is increasingly recognized and valued and its unique place in nursing research is highlighted by many. Despite this, some nurse researchers continue to raise epistemological issues about the problems of objectivity and the validity of qualitative research findings. This paper explores the issues relating to the representativeness or credibility of qualitative research findings. It therefore critiques the existing distinct philosophical and methodological positions concerning the trustworthiness of qualitative research findings, which are described as follows: quantitative studies should be judged using the same criteria and terminology as quanitative studies; it is impossible, in a meaningful way, for any criteria to be used to judge qualitative studies; qualitative studies should be judged using criteria that are developed for and fit the qualitative paradigm; and the credibility of qualitative research findings could be established by testing out the emerging theory by means of conducting a deductive quantitative study. The authors conclude by providing some guidelines for establishing the credibility of qualitative research findings.