Member Checking: A Tool to Enhance Trustworthiness or Merely a Nod to Validation?

Qual Health Res. 2016 Nov;26(13):1802-1811. doi: 10.1177/1049732316654870. Epub 2016 Jul 10.


The trustworthiness of results is the bedrock of high quality qualitative research. Member checking, also known as participant or respondent validation, is a technique for exploring the credibility of results. Data or results are returned to participants to check for accuracy and resonance with their experiences. Member checking is often mentioned as one in a list of validation techniques. This simplistic reporting might not acknowledge the value of using the method, nor its juxtaposition with the interpretative stance of qualitative research. In this commentary, we critique how member checking has been used in published research, before describing and evaluating an innovative in-depth member checking technique, Synthesized Member Checking. The method was used in a study with patients diagnosed with melanoma. Synthesized Member Checking addresses the co-constructed nature of knowledge by providing participants with the opportunity to engage with, and add to, interview and interpreted data, several months after their semi-structured interview.

Keywords: United Kingdom; credibility; melanoma; member checking; participant validation; qualitative method; respondent validation; trustworthiness.