Credibility and Subjectivity

Bradley (1993, p. 436) has defined credibility as an “adequate representation of the constructions of the social world under study”. Credibility is highly valued in qualitative studies and refers to the causal conclusions and generalisations that can be drawn from the data and the study (Van der Riet & Durrheim, 2008). In qualitative studies, the concept of credibility refers to findings that convince the reader and present believable results (Van der Riet & Durrheim, 2008). According to Lincoln and Guba (1985), credibility can only be reached through extensive engagement and an increased understanding of the research topic. Yin (2009) defines the data quality based on the chain of evidence, as well as on the use of multiple sources of evidence. The research quality is also supported by careful handling of the data (Doerr, 2004), particularly in the context of triangulation of research methods, research data and theories applied (Patton, 2002). Triangulation is viewed as the capturing and respecting of multiple perspectives, which is important for the quality of research (Patton, 2002, p. 546).

Patton (2002) emphasises that credibility is, particularly from an integrated constructivist perspective, strongly connected to subjectivity. It is built up during the research process through the construction of the overall research design, the presentation of the researcher, the researched and the context explained and understood (Poggenpoel, 1998), all of which are bound to the subjectivity of the researcher and the researched. The importance of subjectivity in this research is also discussed with regard to the research design and the research paradigm (see Sects. 6.2 and 6.3) and to the research process in content analysis (Sect. Concerning the construction of credibility and subjectivity, the researcher uses self-reflection with regard to the researcher’s bias in Sect. 2.7 at the beginning of the study and in Sect. 9.9, at the end of the study, for transparency reasons regarding the research process.

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