Evaluation is an Everyday Activity

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Thu, 11/10/2016 - 2:29pm

Trustworthiness. An interesting topic.

Today is November 9, 2016. An auspicious day, to be sure. (No, I’m not going to rant about November 8, 2016; just post this and move on with my living.) Keep in mind trustworthiness, I remind myself.

I had the interesting opportunity to review a paper recently that talked about trustworthiness. This caused me much thought as I was troubled by what was written. I decided to go to my source on “Naturalistic Inquiry” . Given that the paper used a qualitative design, employed a case study method, and talked about trustworthiness, I wanted to find out more. This book was written by two of my long time evaluation guides, Yvonna Lincoln and Egon Guba. (Lincoln’s name may be familiar to you from the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research which she co-edited with Norman Denzin.)


On page 218, they talk about trustworthiness. About the conventional criteria for trustworthiness (internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity). They talk about the questions underlying those criteria (see page 218).

They talk about how the criteria formulated by conventional inquirers are not appropriate for naturalistic inquiry. Guba (1981a) offers four new terms as they have “…a better fit with naturalistic epistemology.” These four terms and the terms they propose to replace are:

  1. credibility (rather than internal validity);
  2. transferability (rather than external validity);
  3. dependability (rather than reliability);
  4. confirmability (rather than objectivity).

They refer the reader to Chapter 11 (which begins on page 289 of the above mentioned book [also cited below]).

Guba (1981) proposed “…certain operational techniques that a naturalist can use to establish credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability.”

He (Guba, 1981) specifically talks about “…prolonged engagement and persistent observations, triangulation, peer debriefing, negative case analysis, and member checking…thick description…auditing…and confirmability.”

my .




Guba, E. G. (1981). Criteria for assessing trustworthiness of naturalistic inquiries. Educational Communication and Technology Journal, 29, 75-92.

Lincoln, Y. S. & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic Inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

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