Generalizability in Qualitative Research: A Tale of Two Traditions.

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Abstract

Generalizability in qualitative research has been a controversial topic given that interpretivist scholars have resisted the dominant role and mandate of the positivist tradition within social sciences. Aiming to find universal laws, the positivist paradigm has made generalizability a crucial criterion for evaluating the rigor of quantitative research. This positivist echo has led generalizability to acquire a quantitative meaning, inappropriate for describing qualitative studies. The purpose of qualitative research has, thus, been directed toward providing in-depth explanations and meanings rather than generalizing findings. Through a critical review of empirical and theoretical studies, this commentary seeks to show that in qualitative domains, generalizability is possible provided that, first, generalizability is the main objective of the study; second, due precautions concerning the philosophy and terminology selected are taken. Hence, this commentary contributes to the literature on qualitative research by making suggestions for more consistent and unanimous procedures to adopt in qualitative inquiries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2094-2101
Number of pages8
JournalQualitative health research
Volume28
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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