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validity & reliability
VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY

For the statistical consultant working with social science researchers the estimation of reliability and validity is a task frequently encountered. Measurement issues differ in the social sciences in that they are related to the quantification of abstract, intangible and unobservable constructs. In many instances, then, the meaning of quantities is only inferred.
Let us begin by a general description of the paradigm that we are dealing with. Most concepts in the behavioral sciences have meaning within the context of the theory that they are a part of. Each concept, thus, has an operational definition which is governed by the overarching theory. If a concept is involved in the testing of hypothesis to support the theory it has to be measured. So the first decision that the research is faced with is “how shall the concept be measured?” That is the type of measure. At a very broad level the type of measure can be observational, self-report, interview, etc. These types ultimately take shape of a more specific form like observation of ongoing activity, observing video-taped events, self-report measures like questionnaires that can be open-ended or close-ended, Likert-type scales, interviews that are structured, semi-structured or unstructured and open-ended or close-ended. Needless to say, each type of measure has specific types of issues that need to be addressed to make the measurement meaningful, accurate, and efficient.
Another important feature is the population for which the measure is intended. This decision is not entirely dependent on the theoretical paradigm but more to the immediate research question at hand.

A third point that needs mentioning is the purpose of the scale or measure. What is it that the researcher wants to do with the measure? Is it developed for a specific study or is it developed with the anticipation of extensive use with similar populations?
Once some of these decisions are made and a measure



References: Berk, R., 1979. Generalizability of Behavioral Observations: A Clarification of Interobserver Agreement and Interobserver Reliability. American Journal of Mental Deficiency, Vol. 83, No. 5, p. 460-472. Cronbach, L., 1990. Essentials of psychological testing. Harper & Row, New York. Carmines, E., and Zeller, R., 1979. Reliability and Validity Assessment. Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, California. Gay, L., 1987. Eductional research: competencies for analysis and application. Merrill Pub. Co., Columbus. Guilford, J., 1954. Psychometric Methods. McGraw-Hill, New York. Nunnally, J., 1978. Psychometric Theory. McGraw-Hill, New York. Winer, B., Brown, D., and Michels, K., 1991. Statistical Principles in Experimental Design, Third Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York.

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