A Journey Through Technology

What primary concerns exist in ethics, validity and reliability in AR? How are you managing these concerns (or how will you) within your study?

on November 6, 2015

According to Merriam & Tisdell (2016), “All research is concerned with producing valid and reliable knowledge in an ethical manner.” (p.237).”To a large extent, the validity and reliability of a study depend on the ethics of the investigator.” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p. 260). The main aspects of qualitative research that are likely to deal with ethics are data collection and the presentation of findings (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016). In education research, I see student privacy as the main ethical issue, and it is important to maintain students’ privacy when sharing data and reporting findings.

In qualitative research, validity refers to the methods of measurement and whether or not they are actually measuring what was intended, and reliability refers to the ability of the research data to be replicated by another researcher (Golafshani, 2003). “One of the key factors affecting validity and reliability is error.” (Brink, 1993, p.35) According to Brink (1993), there are four possible sources of error in research:

  1. The researcher
  2. The participants
  3. The situation
  4. The data collection methods or analysis

“What makes experimental studies scientific or rigorous or trustworthy is the researcher’s careful design of the study…” (Merriam & Tisdell, 2016, p.238) Therefore, the researcher can limit error on their part by taking care in how the study is designed and implemented.

In terms of participant error, responses that are given in interview or on surveys may affect the validity or reliability of the research. “The truth of responses is a key concern when data are obtained through questionnaires and interviews.”(Brink, 1993, p. 36)

The situations in which data are collected can also have an impact on the validity and reliability of the findings because “individuals may behave differently under differing social circumstances…” (Brink, 1993, p.36) Participants may give different responses in a group setting versus an individual interview with only the researcher present, so using a variety of settings involving the same participants can help account for these differences.

In terms of data collection and analysis, researchers need to “…present their methods clearly.” (Brink, 1993, p.37) In order for the research to be reliable, another person should be able to follow the research method and reach a similar conclusion. Another issue that can arise in data collection and analysis is participant selection. “To avoid inaccurate or insufficient data, the researcher must use his/her judgement based up) on the best available evidence to choose subjects who know enough, can recall enough, and are able to responde precisely to questions asked.” (Brink, 1993, p.37)

In my study, the main method I plan on using to manage any error is methods triangulation. Methods triangulation uses different data collection methods to check the consistency of findings. (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006) My study has three types of data that are being collected: observation notes, Likert-survey data, and an open-ended survey. I will compare the results obtained through each of these, and hopefully that will confirm that my study is valid and reliable. In regards to ethics, student privacy will be maintained at all times, as all data that is collected is anonymous and does not invade the privacy of any student involved in the study.


Brink, H. (1993). VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH. Curationis, 16(2), 35-38. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.curationis.org.za/index.php/curationis/article/view/1396/1350

Cohen, D., & Crabtree, B. (2006, July 1). Triangulation. Retrieved November 4, 2015 from http://www.qualres.org/HomeTria-3692.html

Merriam, S., & Tisdell, E. (2016). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Nahid Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 597-607. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-4/golafshani.pdf

6 responses to “What primary concerns exist in ethics, validity and reliability in AR? How are you managing these concerns (or how will you) within your study?

  1. Tristan says:

    I think privacy is a huge key to our projects as our students can see that we are observing and making notes each day. They may not know exactly what we are writing, but they know we are making notes, so if they read the information, they could probably be able to tell who we are talking about. I think that’s why it’s important, like Dr. Graham pointed out the other night to always shed positive light in the data. I don’t think I am going to have my kids read through my data or anything, but I wouldn’t want them to think I think negatively of them if they ever saw my notes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah K says:

      I agree. I wouldn’t want my students to think I single any of them out when in making observations, so all of my tally marks are anonymous. I don’t write down names either. I use generic statements like “2 students off task”. Privacy is such an important aspect to building trust with students, and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize any relationships with my students.


  2. tmerculief says:

    Sarah- This is good to know what you wrote according to Brink (1993), there are four possible sources of error in research:
    1 The researcher- how the study is designed
    2 The participants- The truth of responses
    3 The situation- which data are collected
    4 The data collection methods or analysis
    I thought you do an excellent job on writing it out. It was easy to read and follow. Nice job!


  3. Sara Lucas says:

    I like the categories for the errors. This helps me to think about my own study and where errors might be an issue. I cannot control the setting very much. The students I am observing are in 2 different classes, but I can’t change the setting more than that. However, I can try to mitigate errors in how I describe what I am doing to others and triangulating participant responses or actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. pwjohnsen says:

    “In order for the research to be reliable, another person should be able to follow the research method and reach a similar conclusion.” I think this is so important. Since qualitative research is by nature not easily replicated, it is important that the reader can clearly follow your methods and understand how your conclusions were reached.

    Liked by 1 person

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