Validity and Reliability in Data Analysis

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If you are writing a research paper, your findings must meet two important criteria; that of reliability and validity. By validity, we mean: does the measurement procedure that you have adopted actually measure what you want to measure. On the other hand, by reliability we mean if consistent outcomes are produced when measurements or evaluations are repeated in the same set of circumstances.

Normally, validity has two components in research: internal and external. Internal validity is related to if the outcome of the study is legitimate in terms of how samples were chosen, information was gathered and analysis was done. For instance, a research might not be valid from an internal perspective, if testing was not done in the same way for treatment of control groups or if the ambiguous variables were not factored in the research design or interpretation. External validity is a reference to generalizability, which entails if the outcomes of the study can be applied to other groups or populations. For instance, a research which is performed in relation to a specific group in terms of gender, race or geography may not stand application to another population. Only if you have a proper research design and extensive assessment, will it be possible for you to ensure that your study has high levels of internal and external validity.

Also remember that it is not possible to have external validity minus internal validity. If your research is inadequately designed or executed, then the results cannot be applied to any population.

Moreover, your research must also pass the test of reliability- which is the test must generate the same outcomes each time the test is done. However, reliability can be suspect if evaluations are done over a period of time or if tests are conducted by different people or if the evaluation is very subjective.

As a scholar, your task is to make sure that mistakes relating to reliability are minimal. At every step of your research, you may find that the validity and reliability of your study are facing different hurdles. Certainly, it is not possible for a scholar to pre-empt and deal with each and every potential difficulty that may arise in the research design in relation with validity and reliability.

When the academic community analyzes your scholarly work, an important criteria used for assessment is whether your research passes the tests of reliability and validity. Even if your findings are significant, they will not have any weight without these two criteria. Hence, make the necessary extra effort in order to ensure that your research is solid and robust with a strong foundation. It should also pass the various tests of good research. If you find that your research has passed the various necessary tests, including those of reliability and validity- then you can satisfactorily state that your research process is complete.