Quality & Quantity (2008) 42:257–274 © Springer 2006
Auditing Quality of Research in Social Sciences
, WILFRIED ADMIRAAL
and HEINZE OOST
IVLOS Institute of Education, Utrecht University, Po Box 80127, 3508 TC Utrecht, The
Graduate School for Teaching and Learning, Unversity of Amsterdam, Wibautstraat 2-4,
1091 GM, Amsterdam
Abstract. A growing body of studies involves complex research processes facing many
interpretations and iterations during the analyses. Complex research generally has an explor-
ative in-depth qualitative nature. Because these studies rely less on standardized procedures
of data gathering and analysis, it is often not clear how quality was insured or assured.
However, one can not easily ﬁnd techniques that are suitable for such complex research pro-
cesses to assess the quality of the study. In this paper, we discuss and present a suitable
validation procedure. We ﬁrst discuss how ‘diagnosing’ quality involves three generic criteria.
Next, we present ﬁndings of previous research in possible procedures to assure the quality
of research in social sciences. We introduce the audit procedure designed by Halpern [(1983)
Auditing Naturalistic Inquiries: The Development and Application of a Model. Unpublished
doctoral dissertation, Indiana University] we found an appropriate starting point for a suit-
able procedure for quality judgment. Subsequently, we will present a redesign of the original
procedure, with according guidelines for the researcher (the auditee) and for the evaluator
of the quality of the study (the auditor). With that design, we aim to enable researchers to
bring forward their explorative qualitative studies as stronger and more equally valuable to
studies that can rely on standardized procedures.
Key words: Audit, quality procedure
Qualitative and in-depth analyses are increasingly used in social sciences.
However, in a large number of studies the question how quality was
insured or codiﬁed is not answered (see also Sale and Brazil, 2004).
Speciﬁcally in studies that rely on intensive data gathering and in-depth
qualitative analysis, the development of manageable units of analysis and
categories often requires a lot of interpretations and iterations during the
Author for correspondence: Sanne Akkerman, IVLOS Institute of Education, Utr-
echt University, Po Box 80127, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands; E-mail: s.f.akkerman@