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Resource Methods Toolkit CO:RE at TUNI Published: 12 May 2022

Soundness of research

The soundness of research is established on orthodox application of tested and justified research methods and reporting all findings accordingly. The principle of scientific soundness is about proper design of a study as well as it must be executed with sufficient skills and rigour.  Soundness is also about research ethics as only research meeting the soundness requirements can pass e.g., peer review process to be published.

Building soundness into research

Research design is the foundation of soundness and as well as reporting the findings of study at the other end of the process. Soundness is the ultimate quality criteria as failing to execute the study according to a certain indication of quality there is a significant risk for failing trustworthiness and credibility. In researching soundness is not about what methods, approach, framework, or tools are used. Of course, some approaches are more established and valued but using method correctly should pass the soundness test.

Objectivity refers to the recognition of possible biases, reflecting those as well as scientific honestly. It is understanding how difficult it is to walk in another man’s shoes or adapt to a foreign context. In qualitative research objectivity is more easily achieved by thorough reporting of the finding. Objectivity is a principle adjecting from positivism emphasizing distance to from what is studied. However, objectivity does not conflict with normative research as the premises are recognized and reported accordingly. Objectivity is about remaining consistent and conscious of your own personality, beliefs, and values. Objectivity is freedom of values dictating the interpretation of the findings as well as remaining credible by being transparent. In quantitative research objectivity is about the justification of the selected survey items or measures used to unravel the study problem.

Validity refers to the accuracy of selected methods or measures as well as to the extent what can be yielded by certain choices. Validity is about sociological imagination to the extent of seeing beyond the most evident. However, it can be also hermeneutic or fool proof measurement of phenomena. In social sciences validity is is often discussed as a product of justification as well as how different factors are operationalized. The everlasting discussion of validity is about methodological choice as well as scientific rigor.

Reliability is about how accurate the results are. Reliability is product of validity as valid research setting yield reliable results. Reliability is about how the study is reported as well as the consistency a selected method measures or assesses the object of the research. Reliability refers to consistency by three dimensions: test –retest reliability, internal consistency across items, and inter-rater reliability across different researchers.

Practicality refers to cost of data acquisition. Most complete data might require utilising methods that are  work intensive, require extensive use of manual analysis of non-uniform data, or might require expensive test settings. Practicality is the trade off between accuracy and exceeding costs.

  1. Carrington, S., Bland, D., Spooner-Lane, R., & White, E. (2013). Identifying engaging features of schooling: assessing the psychometric soundness of student-generated research. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(7), 714-731.

  2. Lönnqvist, A., & Mettänen, P. (2002). Criteria of sound intellectual capital measures. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Performance Measurement, Hanover, June (pp. 6-7).

  3. Wieringa, R. J., & Heerkens, J. M. (2006). The methodological soundness of requirements engineering papers: a conceptual framework and two case studies. Requirements engineering, 11(4), 295-307.

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Team co-Leader, CO:RE at TUNI

Jussi Okkonen

Jussi Okkonen, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication of Tampere University (FI). Okkonen’s research interests lie in socio-technical environments and digital literacy. He has recently done research on educational technology, children and youth in socio-technical context, and impact of AI.

Tampere University
Tampere University

The team at the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication of TUNI identifies, develops and provides access to resources on qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods together with evaluating their validity in research practice. These resources are collated in the CO:RE methods toolkit that cross-references resources from the evidence base, the compass for research ethics, and the theory toolkit, to give users tools to apply to their individual research contexts.

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