Qualitative researchers rely — implicitly or explicitly — on a variety of understandings and corresponding types of validity in the process of describing, interpreting,and explaining phenomena of interest. In this article, Joseph Maxwell makes explicit this process by defining five types of understanding and validity commonly used in qualitative research. After discussing the nature of validity in qualitative research,the author details the philosophical and practical dimensions of: descriptive validity,interpretive validity, theoretical validity, generalizability, and evaluative validity. In each case, he addresses corresponding issues of understanding. In conclusion,Maxwell discusses the implications of the proposed typology as a useful checklist of the kinds of threats to validity that one needs to consider and as a framework for thinking about the nature of these threats and the possible ways that specific threats might be addressed.

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