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Rethinking validity in qualitative sport and exercise psychology research: a realist perspective

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journal contribution
posted on 11.11.2019 by Noora J Ronkainen, Gareth Wiltshire
Over the last two decades, the relativist approach has significantly shaped debates about the quality and rigour of qualitative research in sport and exercise psychology (SEP). In the absence of any published critiques of relativism in SEP, this paper problematises its central claims with a focus on the most recent contribution offered by Smith and McGannon (2018. Developing rigor in qualitative research: problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 11, 101–121). Despite making valuable contributions to the advancement and acceptance of qualitative research, we argue that the relativist approach encounters numerous problems when attempting to reject the “anything goes” problem due to its fundamental ontological commitment to internal, multiple, mind-dependent realities. This paper then makes a constructive contribution to the field by offering an alternative position grounded in a realist understanding of validity. We first suggest that principles such as ontological plausibility, empirical adequacy and practical utility can re-orient both critical thinking and the use of practical techniques which can reduce threats to validity. Second, we suggest that Maxwell’s (1992. Understanding and validity in qualitative research. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 279–301) descriptive, interpretive and theoretical validity could be welcome concepts for qualitative researchers in SEP. The significance of this realist approach for researchers, reviewers and editors is discussed.

Funding

Alfred Kordelin foundation: [grant number 15143]

European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation -programme: [grant number 792172]

History

School

  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology

Publisher

Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© International Society of Sport Psychology

Publisher statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology on 5 July 2019, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/1612197X.2019.1637363.

Acceptance date

28/05/2019

Publication date

2019-07-05

Copyright date

2019

ISSN

1612-197X

eISSN

1557-251X

Language

en

Depositor

Mr Gareth Wiltshire. Deposit date: 11 November 2019

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