Bridging Conceptions of Quality in Moments of Qualitative Research

Michael John Ravenek, Debbie Laliberte Rudman

Abstract


Quality assessment in qualitative research has been, and remains, a contentious issue. The qualitative literature contains a diversity of opinions on definitions of and criteria for quality. This article attempts to organize this diversity, drawing on several examples of existing quality criteria, into four main approaches: qualitative as quantitative criteria, paradigm-specific criteria, individualized assessment, and bridging criteria. These different approaches can be mapped onto the historical transitions, or moments, in qualitative research presented by Denzin and Lincoln and, as such, they are presented alongside the various criteria reviewed. Socio-political conditions that have led us to a fractured future, where the value and significance of qualitative work may be marginalized, support the adoption of bridging criteria. These broadly applicable criteria provide means to assess quality and can be flexibly applied among the diversity of qualitative approaches used by researchers. Five categories that summarize the language used within bridging criteria are presented as a means to move forward in developing an approach to quality assessment that fosters communication and connections within the diversity of qualitative research, while simultaneously respecting and valuing paradigmatic and methodological diversity.

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