Rigour in qualitative research: the philosophical underpinnings

The abundance of new and recent publications on qualitative research is evidence of a resurgent academic interest in the fundamental phenomenon of Dasein as our being-in-the-world that is integral to any thoughtful questioning of the significance of our lived experience in manifold times and situations. For qualitative research that uses the so-called “hermeneutic phenomenology” as its method, the question needs to be asked whether the fundamental ontic-ontological distinction that makes Heidegger’s ontological-phenomenological project possible in the first place is methodologically present and active in a researcher’s self-proclaimed “hermeneutic” approach to investigate the subject matter at hand. Qualitative research aims to make sense of lived experience; lived experience is part of the everyday business of Dasein. This means that all and sundry have at least a pre-philosophical understanding of what “lived experience” is. For the academically trained mind, moreover, the credibility of the lived experience described in a qualitative study is a discernible feature that determines the value and competence of the research in question.

To quote from a new publication on qualitative research held in a nursing library:

The qualitative study report that is written well gives the reader a strong sense that the results are believable. The voices of the participants seem alive and it is easy to grasp their experiences. Although this can be a valuable observation in assessing the quality of a qualitative study, there are additional criteria that must be considered (Rodgers, 2014, p. 180).

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