Separating "fact" from fiction: strategies to improve rigour in historical research

Langtree, Tanya, Birks, Melanie, and Biedermann, Narelle (2019) Separating "fact" from fiction: strategies to improve rigour in historical research. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20 (2). 26.

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Abstract

Since the 1980s, many fields of qualitative research have adopted LINCOLN and GUBA's (1985) four criteria for determining rigour (credibility, confirmability, dependability and transferability) to evaluate the quality of research outputs. Historical research is one field of qualitative inquiry where this is not the case. While most historical researchers recognise the need to be rigorous in their methods in order to improve the trustworthiness of their results, ambiguity exists about how rigour is demonstrated in historical research. As a result, strategies to establish rigour remain focused on piecemeal activities (e.g., source criticism) rather than adopting a whole-of-study approach. Using a piecemeal approach makes it difficult for others to understand the researcher's rationale for the methods used and decisions made during the research process. Fragmenting approaches to rigour may contribute to questioning of the legitimacy of historical methods. In this article, we provide a critique of the challenges to achieving rigour that currently exist in historical research. We then offer practical strategies that can be incorporated into historical methods to address these challenges with the aim of producing a more transparent historical narrative.

Item ID: 58561
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1438-5627
Keywords: historical method; historical research; qualitative research; rigour; trustworthiness
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Copyright Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Additional Information:

A version of this publication was included in Chapter 3 of the following PhD thesis: Langtree, Tanya Gai (2020) Notes on pre-Nightingale nursing: what it was and what it was not. PhD thesis, James Cook University, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2019 02:13
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430399 Historical studies not elsewhere classified @ 75%
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4205 Nursing > 420599 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 25%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology @ 75%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970111 Expanding Knowledge in the Medical and Health Sciences @ 25%
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