June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.726.1 - 26.726.21
Exploring Ethical Validation as a Key Consideration in Interpretive Research QualityWe recently proposed a Quality Framework to assist engineering education researchers infostering and evaluating the quality of interpretive studies. The framework comprises twodimensions: i) a process model with two stages of Making and Handling Data, and ii) fourvalidation constructs (Theoretical, Procedural, Communicative, and Pragmatic Validation) andProcess Reliability. In this paper, we propose a fifth validation construct – Ethical Validation –as a critical dimension of research quality that, we argue, lies at the heart of conducting andevaluating interpretive research.The exploration presented here draws on research practice anecdotes from two interpretiveresearch projects conducted by the authors. In both projects, we used the Quality Framework as away to purposefully foster quality throughout the entire research process. We draw on ourrespective research documentation to analyze and discuss key challenges around research qualitythat surfaced in the projects.This analysis of the quality challenges reveals that the four validation constructs provide aconceptual frame and language to identify, articulate and navigate key issues of research quality.However, while the four validation constructs provided precise insight into the theoretical natureof the quality challenges, our analysis reveals that they did not capture the researchers’ fullexperiences of navigating those challenges. More specifically, a range of deep ethicalconsiderations and the aspect of both researchers’ and participants’ emotions in the processseemed to fundamentally underpin the quality considerations but were not reflected in thetheoretical examinations using the existing five categories.Based on this analysis, we develop the notion of “ethical validation” as a new key component inconsiderations of interpretive research quality. This concept extends beyond the traditionalconcept of ethical research conduct to include questions of the researchers’ larger responsibilitiesto the participants, the role of values and intentions in using research findings, or the equitableand meaningful engagement of all members of the research team. We suggest that a theoreticallycoherent concept of ethical validation spans the entire research process, from making to handlingdata, and integrates with the prior quality constructs to complement the contextually holisticview on research quality proposed in the prior framework.
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