Quality Criteria

When it comes to research, there are high standards. But, there are several types of scientific research, which can be differentiated as qualitative or quantitative. The two have different quality criteria. Read on to learn what these are.

Quality Criteria Quality Criteria

Create learning materials about Quality Criteria with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account
Table of contents
    • We will start by identifying the difference between qualitative and quantitative research.
    • Then we will look at the quality criteria in qualitative research.
    • After, we will explore the research quality criteria for quantitative research and a summary of quality criteria examples in quantitative research.
    • Finally, we will delve into the common science standards in empirical research.

    Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

    Before we get into the different types of quality criteria, let’s identify the difference between qualitative and quantitative research.

    Qualitative research is a type of research method that collects non-numerical data, e.g. open-ended questions, unstructured interviews or observations.

    Quantitative research is the opposite.

    Quantitative research is a type of research method that collects numerical data, e.g. experiments, close-ended questions or structured interviews.

    Quality Criteria in Qualitative Research

    Data and reports must meet these requirements to be considered quality scientific research. There are several types of quality criteria for qualitative and quantitative research.

    Research quality criteria are requirements for research that psychologists have agreed on and recommended.

    The purpose of using research quality criteria for qualitative research is to determine if it is credible and trustworthy based on the following criteria:

    • Credibility whether the research findings contain credible information based on data collected from participants and whether the interpretations reflect that data. The results should accurately reflect the experiences of the participants. It is similar to internal validity, a requirement of quantitative research.

    • Transferability whether results are transferable to other situations, environments and participants.

    • Dependability whether the results are consistent and repeatable.

    • Confirmability whether other researchers can confirm the results.

    Summary of Quality Criteria Examples in Qualitative Research

    The following table summarises the methods researchers can use to meet the requirements of the research quality criterion for qualitative research:

    Qualitative quality research criterion

    How study can meet this criterion


    • Triangulation using multiple data collection methods

    • Identifying key aspects of the research question and focusing on them

    • Allowing sufficient time, e.g., to build relationships with participants, analyse data, and become familiar with the setting and context to avoid misinformation/misinterpretation that could affect results


    • Taking detailed notes on what was observed during the research

    • When describing participant behaviours and experiences, also make notes on context so that other researchers can understand and interpret the researcher’s perspective


    • Audit trail: the researcher could write down how they collected, analysed, and interpreted the data, and other researchers could follow this to see if they come to the same conclusions


    • The same method used for reliability ensures that the research is confirmable.

    Research Quality Criteria for Quantitative Research

    The purpose of using quality criteria for quantitative research is to determine if it is credible and trustworthy. The following criteria should apply to the study:

    • Internal validity how much of the observed effects are due to the independent variable, not other factors

    • External validity whether the sample results can be generalised to the broader population

    • Reliability whether similar results would be obtained if the study were repeated

    • Objectivity whether potential biases (researchers and experimental) that could influence the results are excluded.

    Quality Criteria: Assessing Reliability

    Researchers can assess their study’s reliability using test-retest and inter-observer reliability.

    Test-retest reliability tests whether the results of a study are consistent over time. The process involves employing the same measure/test on the same participant but over two different time points. If the correlation between the two results is high, this is a good reliability indicator.

    Let us say you administer a personality test to a group of participants. A month later, you again give the same group of participants the personality test. If the personality scores this time are drastically different from those of the first test, the test does not have good test-retest reliability.

    Researchers can improve the test-retest reliability by:

    • Redesigning the test, or perhaps improving or removing some questions.

    • Controlling external factors as much as possible, e.g., by ensuring that participants take the test under the same conditions (e.g., in the same room).

    Inter-observer reliability measures are used to determine the internal reliability of a study. It refers to the extent to which different researchers (observers) agree and give the same ratings for a phenomenon.

    In Bandura’s Bobo doll study, researchers measured the inter-observer reliability by determining whether observers agreed with how many acts of aggression the children exhibited.

    In a study, if one observer gives many ratings, but another gives few, then inter-observer reliability is low.

    Researchers can improve observer reliability by:

    • Giving all observers the same training in observation techniques.

    • Clearly defining the variables and how they will measure.

    Quality Criteria: Assessing Validity

    Validity can be assessed in several ways: face validity, concurrent validity, ecological validity, and temporal validity.

    Face validity is the weakest criterion based on people’s assumptions about their behaviour. It assesses whether a test measures what it claims at first glance.

    For a test measuring depression, you would expect it to ask questions about low mood and motivation. If you review a test to measure depression and it contains these types of questions, then it appears to have good face validity.

    If you compare the results of one test to the results of an existing test to see if they give similar results, you are testing concurrent validity. Participants must take the tests at approximately the same time to reflect their current state.

    A well-known measurement of aggression is Buss-Perry’s aggression questionnaire (1992). Suppose you have developed a new questionnaire on aggression and tested its concurrent validity.

    You could ask participants to complete both questionnaires in one sitting and then compare your participants’ results with your questionnaire with the results they obtained with the Buss-Perry aggression questionnaire.

    If the results are similar, there is concordant validity.

    A study may work well in a laboratory, but the results are not as good when transferred to the outside world. We can improve ecological validity by conducting studies in natural settings.

    Ecological validity is the extent to which study results can be applied to real-life situations.

    If a study stands the test of time, it has high temporal validity.

    Temporal validity measures whether the study results are generalisable or applicable over time.

    Asch’s (1951) study on conformity does not have good temporal validity because it has been criticised for reflecting the American conformist culture of the 1950s.

    Summary of Quality Criteria Examples in Quantitative Research

    The following table summarises the methods that researchers can use to meet the requirements of the quality criteria for quantitative research:

    Quantitative quality research criterion

    How research can meet this criterion

    Internal validity

    • Standardising variables studied (define the variables and how the study measured them).

    • Providing sufficient details about the context of the research and the interventions used (can you identify extraneous/ confounding variables).

    • Using control groups.

    • Using standardised instructions

    • Counterbalancing order effects are accounted for

    • Controlling for demand characteristics in participants and experimenter effects in researchers. Perhaps by not informing participants of the true goals of the study and using a research assistant who also does not know.

    External validity

    • Use random sampling methods.

    • Replicating the study in other settings to assess ecological validity

    • Examining scales used in the study with other similar scales to determine if they measure the same thing; measures construct validity. Similar results mean that the scale has high construct validity (it measures what it is supposed to measure).


    • Reviewing internal reliability/consistency of scales. For example, all questions in a scale that measures depression should also measure all depression scores

    • Assessing the generalisability theory determining the consistency of instruments used in research or whether the results obtained by participants are due to specific conditions


    • Using blind methods when collecting and coding data, i.e., a trained professional who is not part of the research team should do so to prevent bias from influencing the data.
    • Data should follow the empirical method (stages research should follow to produce scientific, reliable, and valid research)

    • Using only data that were generated as part of the research.

    • Retaining original data used for research for accountability purposes.

    Common Scientific Standards: Empirical Research

    Empirical data should allow valid, reliable, and objective conclusions to be drawn.

    Empirical research is research based on direct observations rather than subjective opinions, data, and analysis techniques.

    This research method can provide qualitative or quantitative data. There is an ongoing debate among psychologists about whether empirical research is the right approach to conducting research.

    The main characteristics of empirical research are:

    • This framework follows the stages of the scientific method and provides step-by-step guidance on how scientific research should be conducted.

    • Data should be observable.

    • Data should be verifiable.

    The following table describes the main features of empirical research and their relationship to quantitative quality criteria:

    Quantitative quality criteriaCharacteristics of empirical researchHow is it achieved?


    Observable data reduce the likelihood that subjective perspectives and experiences will influence data and analysis.
    Reliability Verifiable Suppose we repeat the research in the same way/ in a different context/ in a different setting, and similar results are obtained. In that case, the researcher can verify that the results and conclusions are reliable.
    ObjectiveFollow the scientific method to research.The scientific method provides researchers with an empirical technique to use, limiting the effects of bias and thus increasing validity. Therefore, statistical inferences are deduced from data-driven, empirical evidence.

    Quality Criteria - Key takeaways

    • The difference between qualitative and quantitative research is that the former collects non-numerical data, and the latter collects numerical data.
    • Research quality criteria are requirements for research that psychologists have agreed upon and recommended.
    • The quality criteria in qualitative data are credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability.
    • Quality criteria examples for quantitative data are internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity.
    • The common standards of empirical research are that it follows the scientific method’s phases, and data should be observable and verifiable.
    Quality Criteria Quality Criteria
    Learn with 24 Quality Criteria flashcards in the free StudySmarter app

    We have 14,000 flashcards about Dynamic Landscapes.

    Sign up with Email

    Already have an account? Log in

    Frequently Asked Questions about Quality Criteria

    What is research quality criteria?

    Research quality criteria are requirements for research that psychologists have agreed upon and recommended. 

    What is the quality criteria in qualitative research?

    The quality criteria in qualitative data are credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability.

    What is the quality criteria in quantitative research?

    Quality criteria examples for quantitative data are internal validity, external validity, reliability, and objectivity.

    What is objectivity in research methods?

    Objective research is 'scientific' and measured without the influence of subjectivity, such as the researcher's personal opinions.

    What is the empirical method in psychology?

    Empirical research relies on direct observations rather than subjective opinions, data and analysis techniques. The common standards of empirical research are that it follows the scientific method’s phases, and data should be observable and verifiable.

    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Quality Criteria Teachers

    • 10 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App