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Validity and Reliability

This section has described a thesis that has developed through practice, and there is a need to explain the validity of this thesis and discuss its reliability.

In qualitative research, much of the debate about validity and reliability depends on triangulation (Golafshani 2003)The analyses presented as this thesis have been exposed to considerable 'stress testing' in numerous projects, many on the large scale and the national stage with many collaborators. In addition they have been shared with colleagues, students  and professional contacts in practice, teaching and professional dialogue. Some have been peer-reviewed in the context of projects deliverables. Thus their external validity derives from this exposure and the critique that has been offered by others leading to improvements and good evidence of generalisability.

In each analysis there is more to be developed in detail and more empirical evidence to be found to make them more rigorous, but there is enough cohesion and precision to make the task of inspiring design proposals and making design decisions possible and indeed effective. In this way I would argue that the thesis has strength in internal validity.

In the sense of truthfulness regarding my contribution, validity has been demonstrated by the triangulation of colleagues agreement, despite concerns about the crudity of percentage measures.

As for reliability, there is doubt about its relevance in qualitative research that is descriptive in nature, such as this dissertation reports, but it can be  argued that reliability derives from validity (Golafshani 2003). This thesis suffers from being my point of view and analysis, and the potential is there for bias. Some of this is offset by the nature of my practice as collaboration (others have had a hand in the development of the ideas) and other aspects can be triangulated through the evidence offered for each portfolio item. Another indicator of reliability is that the thesis is couched in terms that do not depend on particular educational contexts or developments in technology and have stood the test of time in my career.

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"It wasn’t so much a question of whether she had written the truth about herself, or told the truth, or believed that what she wrote and said was true, or even whether they were true things in themselves; the important thing seemed to me that the person who wrote and spoke was admirable, living and complete."  ― The Secret Scripture, Sebastian Barry, 2008