Evaluating rigor in qualitative methodology and research dissemination

Audrey A. Trainor, Elizabeth Graue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite previous and successful attempts to outline general criteria for rigor, researchers in special education have debated the application of rigor criteria, the significance or importance of small n research, the purpose of interpretivist approaches, and the generalizability of qualitative empirical results. Adding to these complications, the breadth of qualitative research methods makes a single set of universally applicable criteria difficult to identify and use. Based on input from qualitative researchers across the social sciences, we augment and expand the oft-cited criteria for rigor established in special education, thus broadening the potential application and contribution of qualitative research in the areas of disability and education. We identify exemplars from special education research and use these to illustrate ways qualitative research can push the field to strengthen the theoretical foundations of empirical work, as well as to acknowledge more forthrightly the roles of the researcher in the research endeavor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalRemedial and Special Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Evidence base
  • Peer reviewing
  • Qualitative research
  • Scientific education research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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