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By Dr. Sharon Brown, Full-Time FacultyPublished April 2015
Research is a term with many connotations. Many people think that research is easy: pick a topic, look it up on the Internet, and write a paper. This process is far from the truth. Understanding the fundamentals of research is important because those fundamentals will serve as a foundation for the research. Researchers must think critically and logically during the research process to help to ensure that the research is both valid and reliable.
Research has to integrate the concepts of validity and reliability and the function of critical thinking in the research process. Validity refers to the degree to which an instrument measures what it is expected to measure (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). A researcher needs to be concerned with two types of validity: (1) internal validity and (2) external validity. Internal validity and external validity ensure that the study has sufficient controls to ensure warranted conclusions.
External validity refers to a researcher's contribution to knowledge in society. The magnitude to which the results of a study apply to situations outside the study are referred to as external validity (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). Internal validity is the extent to which the design of the study and the data yielded allows the researcher to draw accurate conclusions regarding the relationships within the data (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013). To ensure internal validity, researchers have to take steps to eradicate other conceivable reasons for the outcomes, such as using a controlled laboratory study, a double blind experiment, unobtrusive measures, or triangulation (Leedy & Ormrod, 2013)
Validity is important to determining the accuracy of data in a research study, and researchers have to consider internal and external validity in planning a research study to ensure that the results are valid and meaningful. Researchers can influence the outcome of a study in many ways, and must design the study to minimize external and construct threats. In order to build a viable study it must include the concepts pertinent to research with an understanding of the effect of validity issues.
Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2013). Practical research: Planning and design (10th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Dr. Sharon Brown is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
By Cynthia Waddell, PhD, CPA, CFE
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