Validating interviews

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In qualitative research, a member check, also known as informant feedback or respondent validation, is a technique used by researchers to help improve the accuracy, credibility, validity, and transferability (also known as applicability, internal validity, There are many subcategories of members checks, including; narrative accuracy checks, interpretive validity, descriptive validity, theoretical validity, and evaluative validity.

In many member checks, the interpretation and report (or a portion of it) is given to members of the sample (informants) in order to check the authenticity of the work.

Their comments serve as a check on the viability of the interpretation.

This allows participants to critically analyze the findings and comment on them.

The participants either affirm that the summaries reflect their views, feelings, and experiences, or that they do not reflect these experiences.

The researcher constantly checks his or her understanding of the phenomenon by utilizing techniques such as paraphrasing and summarization for clarification.

Since the most important issue in evaluating the rigor of qualitative research is trustworthiness, using the strategy of member checks, (along with other techniques such as independent audit, prolonged engagement, triangulation, peer debriefing), is critical to minimizing distortion.

In fact, member checks are not consistent with the philosophy of non positivistic qualitative research methods.

See positivism for more information on philosophy of approach.

If the participants affirm the accuracy and completeness, then the study is said to have credibility.

These member checks are not without fault, but serve to decrease the incidence of incorrect data and the incorrect interpretation of data.

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Prolonged engagement aids in the ability to detect and account for distortions that might be in the data.

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