Reconceptualizing rigour: the case for reflexivity

J Adv Nurs. 1998 Oct;28(4):882-90. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1998.00725.x.


This paper is a critical review of recent discussions of rigour in nursing research. We will argue that 'borrowing' evaluation criteria from one paradigm of inquiry and applying them to another is problematic. We attempt to map the 'rigour' field and add a dimension to the existing debate about rigour and qualitative research through inclusion of reflexivity guided by philosophical hermeneutics. We describe reflexivity and appeal to writers to incorporate a reflexive account into their research product by signposting to readers 'what is going on' while researching. We contend that researchers bring to the research product, data generated, a range of literature, a positioning of this literature, a positioning of oneself, and moral socio-political contexts. We suggest that reflexive research is characterized by ongoing self-critique and self-appraisal and that the research product can be given shape by the politics of location and positioning. We emphasize that in the creation of a text (the research product) it is desirable that the researcher be a skilled writer. Finally we claim that if the research product is well signposted, the readers will be able to travel easily through the worlds of the participants and makers of the text (the researchers) and decide for themselves whether the text is believable or plausible (our terms for rigour).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Humans
  • Nursing Research / standards*
  • Publishing / standards