Validity in Qualitative Inquiry and the Problem of Criteria: Implications for Sport Psychology

in The Sport Psychologist
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Evaluating the quality of qualitative inquiry has begun to intrigue researchers in sport psychology. Consequently, this has raised important questions regarding the criteria for judging this emerging form of inquiry. With the intent to stimulate methodological debate, this paper explores prevailing notions of validity in qualitative sport psychology by focusing on how various scholars have framed this term. The prevailing parallel perspective of validity is discussed, as are specific problems associated with this view. In contrast, recent attempts to reconceptualize validity in relation to particular forms of qualitative inquiry are considered. The socially constructed nature of validity and the multiplicity of meanings associated with this term are presented according to a diversification perspective. More radical calls to renounce validity and seek alternative criteria for judging qualitative inquiry are also discussed. In closing, the ongoing problem of criteria and its implications for research in sport psychology are considered.

Andrew C. Sparkes is with the School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences at Exeter University, Exeter, Devon, United Kingdom, EX1 2LU.

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