Verification Strategies for Establishing Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research

  • Janice M. Morse University of Alberta
  • Michael Barrett University of Cambridge
  • Maria Mayan International Institute for Qualitative Methodology
  • Karin Olson University of Alberta
  • Jude Spiers University of Alberta


The rejection of reliability and validity in qualitative inquiry in the 1980s has resulted in an interesting shift for "ensuring rigor" from the investigator’s actions during the course of the research, to the reader or consumer of qualitative inquiry. The emphasis on strategies that are implemented during the research process has been replaced by strategies for evaluating trustworthiness and utility that are implemented once a study is completed. In this article, we argue that reliability and validity remain appropriate concepts for attaining rigor in qualitative research. We argue that qualitative researchers should reclaim responsibility for reliability and validity by implementing verification strategies integral and self-correcting during the conduct of inquiry itself. This ensures the attainment of rigor using strategies inherent within each qualitative design, and moves the responsibility for incorporating and maintaining reliability and validity from external reviewers’ judgements to the investigators themselves. Finally, we make a plea for a return to terminology for ensuring rigor that is used by mainstream science.