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Internal vs. External Validity in Research - Coursework Example

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In the paper “Internal vs. External Validity in Research” the author analyzes a tradeoff between internal and external validity. He also examines a benefit in achieving a high level of one type of validity (internal versus external) over the other. …
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Internal vs. External Validity in Research
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Internal vs. External Validity in Research Grade (January 2, Internal vs. External Validity in Research
Part 1:
1. What is internal and external validity? When conducting research, why is there often a trade-off between internal and external validity?
Internal validity refers to the certainty that a research that has been undertaken presents true results of the relationship between the dependent and the independent variable in the study, which has not been influenced by any other extraneous factor (Mitchell & Jolley, 2001). Thus, internal validity of research simply means that the results of the research validate the hypothesis of the research making the hypothesis is highly believable and reliable, such that it eliminates the possibility of alternative hypotheses being true.
External validity on the other hand refers to the possibility of the findings and results of a research being applicable and generalized to other situations (Isaac & Michael, 1971). In this respect, a research’s external validity determines whether the results and findings of the study can be inferred to the rest of the population from which the study sample used in the research was generated.
There is often a tradeoff between internal and external validity, due to the fact that that the requirements of a high internal validity is the creation of a controlled and artificial setting for the research, which then limits the application of the results to the natural and real-life situations (Mitchell & Jolley, 2001). The attainment of a high internal validity of a research requires that the participants in the research are shielded from the extraneous factors that may change the relationship between the dependent and the independent variables. On the other hand, the extraneous factors are fully operational in the real-life situations, limiting the application of the findings of a research done in a setting where the extraneous factors were blocked. Therefore, there must b a trade-off between the internal validity and the external validity, such that internal validity is only high where external validity is low and vice versa (Isaac & Michael, 1971).
2. Is there a benefit in achieving a high level of one type of validity (internal versus external) over the other? Is there a way to design a study or series of studies to have high internal as well as high external validity? What would be the benefit?
There is a benefit of achieving a high level of one type of validity over the other, based on the nature of the research in question. If the research undertaken is specific to a certain environment only, then high internal validity might be beneficial. On the other hand, if the research seeks application to the whole population, then high external validity might be beneficial (Mitchell & Jolley, 2001). Research can be designed such that both high internal and external validity is achieved, through making the setting of the research as close to natural environment as possible, while ensuring to control the other extraneous factors that might influence the results of the study.
Part 2:
1. Evaluate the level of internal and external validity achieved in the study
The level of internal validity achieved in the study is low, while the level of external validity attained in the study is high. This is because; the study was seeking to establish the factors affecting veteran military women seeking to join civilian employment. However, the researcher interviewed 16 veterans only, among whom 7 were men; all of whom were only drawn from five states of the 50 states in the USA (Szelwach, Steinkogler, Badger & Muttukumaru, 2011). Thus, since the research was not specific to women only as the participants, the level of internal validity is low. However, the level of external validity is high, since the interviews were conducted on veterans who were from both the male and the female gender, drawn from different geographic rural regions, making the results easily generalized to the entire USA rural veteran circumstances.
2. Discuss how the interpretation of the data is affected by the level of validity (both strengths and weaknesses)
The major strength of the interpretation of the data, which was affected by the validity, is that the physical as well as the social settings of the rural areas, affected the rate at which veteran women joined civilian employment (Szelwach, Steinkogler, Badger & Muttukumaru, 2011). This interpretation was achieved courtesy of the high external validity of the study. On the other hand, the major weakness associated with the interpretation of the data in the study is that no extraneous factors were considered as factors influencing the results of the study.
References
Isaac, S., & Michael, W. B. (1971). Handbook in research and evaluation. San Diego: EdITS
Mitchell, M. & Jolley, J. (2001). Research Design Explained (4th Ed.). New York:Harcourt.
Szelwach, C., Steinkogler, J., Badger, E. &Muttukumaru, R. (2011).Transitioning to the civilian workforce: issues impacting the reentry of rural women veterans. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 26(3), 83–112. Read More
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