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Auditing Quality of Research in Social Sciences


A growing body of studies involves complex research processes facing many interpretations and iterations during the analyses. Complex research generally has an explorative in-depth qualitative nature. Because these studies rely less on standardized procedures of data gathering and analysis, it is often not clear how quality was insured or assured. However, one can not easily find techniques that are suitable for such complex research processes to assess the quality of the study. In this paper, we discuss and present a suitable validation procedure. We first discuss how ‘diagnosing’ quality involves three generic criteria. Next, we present findings of previous research in possible procedures to assure the quality of research in social sciences. We introduce the audit procedure designed by Halpern [(1983) Auditing Naturalistic Inquiries: The Development and Application of a Model. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Indiana University] we found an appropriate starting point for a suitable procedure for quality judgment. Subsequently, we will present a redesign of the original procedure, with according guidelines for the researcher (the auditee) and for the evaluator of the quality of the study (the auditor). With that design, we aim to enable researchers to bring forward their explorative qualitative studies as stronger and more equally valuable to studies that can rely on standardized procedures.

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Correspondence to Sanne Akkerman.

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Akkerman, S., Admiraal, W., Brekelmans, M. et al. Auditing Quality of Research in Social Sciences. Qual Quant 42, 257–274 (2008).

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  • Audit
  • quality procedure