Qualitative inquiry is increasingly being used in adapted physical activity research, which raises questions about how to best evaluate its quality. This article aims to clarify the distinction between quality criteria (the what) and strategies (the how) in qualitative inquiry. An electronic keyword search was used to identify articles pertaining to quality evaluation published between 1995 and 2012 (n = 204). A five phase systematic review resulted in the identification of 56 articles for detailed review. Data extraction tables were generated and analyzed for commonalities in terminology and meanings. Six flexible criteria for gauging quality were formulated: reflexivity, credibility, resonance, significant contribution, ethics, and coherence. Strategies for achieving the established criteria were also identified. It is suggested that researchers indicate the paradigm under which they are working and guidelines by which they would like readers to evaluate their work as well as what criteria can be absent without affecting the research value.
Michelle R. Zitomer and Donna Goodwin are with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.