Recommendations for Designing and Reviewing Qualitative Research in Psychology: Promoting Methodological Integrity

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The current paper presents recommendations from the Task Force on Resources for the Publication of Qualitative Research of the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology, a section of Division 5 of the American Psychological Association. This initiative was a response to concerns by authors that reviews of qualitative research articles frequently utilize inflexible sets of procedures and provide contradictory feedback when evaluating acceptability. In response, the Task Force proposes the concept of methodological integrity and recommends its evaluation via its two composite processes: (a) fidelity to the subject matter, which is the process by which researchers develop and maintain allegiance to the phenomenon under study as it is conceived within their tradition of inquiry, and (b) utility in achieving research goals, which is the process by which researchers select procedures to generate insightful findings that usefully answer their research questions. Questions that guide the evaluation of these processes, example principles, and a flowchart are provided to help authors and reviewers in the process of both research design and review. The consideration of methodological integrity examines whether the implementation of fidelity and utility function coherently together. Researchers and reviewers also examine whether methods further the research goals, are consistent with researchers’ approaches to inquiry, and are tailored to the characteristics of the subject matter and investigators. This approach to evaluation encourages researchers and reviewers to shift from using standardized and decontextualized procedures as criteria for rigor toward assessing the underlying methodological bases for trustworthiness as they function within research projects.

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