Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The quality of qualitative research
  1. Marinus H van IJzendoorn1,
  2. Siebren Miedema2
  1. 1Research Department of Clinical, Education and Health Psychology, UCL, London, UK
  2. 2Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Professor Marinus H van IJzendoorn, Research Department of Clinical, Education and Health Psychology, UCL, London WC1E 6BT, UK; m.ijzendoorn{at}


In this contribution, we discuss criteria for the quality of qualitative research. We consider reliability and validity as specifications of the comprehensive requirement for ‘intersubjective replicability’, with which qualitative research should comply. In the data collection phase, ‘argumentative’ reliability generally must suffice; in the data analysis phase, attention must also be given to ‘technical’ reliability. Validation of qualitative research has to take place via three approaches: ‘communicative’, ‘critical’ or ‘empirical’ validation. This clarifies the relative validity or ‘authenticity’ of qualitative research.

  • philosophy of science
  • Qualitative Research
  • child and adolescent psychiatry
  • medical anthropology
  • Ethics

Data availability statement

No data are available.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Editor's note This is a translation of Van IJzendoorn, V.H. & Miedema, S. (1986) De kwaliteit van kwalitatief onderzoek, Pedagogische Studiën, 63 pp. 498-505. The translation was undertaken by Iris Maher, with edits by the authors, who have given permission for this reprint. Van IJzendoorn and Miedema have been major figures within developmental science. This early paper on the philosophy of science, inaccessible for many decades to english-speaking readers, represents a provocative statement on whether the criteria for evaluating qualitative and quantitative research are differences in degree, not differences of kind.

  • Contributors MvI and SM contributed equally to planning, conception and structure of the review, interpretation of concepts and issues, and writing of the original Dutch manuscript; MvI revised the English translation and is the guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.