Member Checking in Qualitative Research

Qualitative Results

Member checking is a qualitative technique used to establish the tenet of credibility in trustworthiness. Credibility involves establishing the truth of the research study’s findings; in laymen’s terms, it means showing that the findings are accurate and honest. Traditionally, member checking is defined as sharing either a brief summary of the findings or sharing the whole findings with the research participants. This is its classical definition based on the work of Lincoln and Guba who are seminal authors on all areas of trustworthiness in qualitative research.

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Nonetheless, schools often require transcript review as an aspect of member checking. Transcript review is when a qualitative researcher sends a copy of the interview transcript to each respective participant so they can review the document. This is done to ensure participants have an opportunity to review what they said, add more information if they want to, and to edit what they said.

Transcript review is a simple technique to include in your qualitative research study, but you may find that some participants do not respond to an e-mail with their respective transcript.  Unfortunately, that is a side-effect of this process, and some degree of attrition is always possible. Some researchers implement a follow-up interview for this very reason, so they can get back in contact with their participants, have them review their transcript, and ask additional questions they may not have thought of before.

That being said, a follow-up interview is not the same as conducting a member check. It is merely a technique that qualitative researchers can use to ensure participants member check their transcripts while also probing for additional information about the phenomenon of interest.