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Little Blue Book

QUALITY CONTROL

How does the investigator ensure the quality of his or her own qualitative research? How does the user of this research treat it with confidence? These are questions to which there are still only general and imprecise answers. This chapter suggests one of the strategies by which quality may be assessed. Much of the difficulty surrounding this question stems from the tendency to judge qualitative research by quantitative standards. As we noted above in our discussion of Issue 3, it is important to keep the distinction between qualitative and quantitative research visible and clear. In the first, categories take shape in the course of research, whereas in the second, they are fixed from the beginning. In the first, the analyst uses his or her methods to capture complexity and to search out patterns of interrelationship between many categories. In the second, the analyst looks, instead, for a very precise relationship ...

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