Developing Rigor in Qualitative Research: Problems and Opportunities within Sport and Exercise Psychology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes


Qualitative research has grown within sport and exercise psychology and is now
widely conducted. The purpose of this review is to discuss three commonly used ways to demonstrate rigor when conducting or judging qualitative research in sport and exercise psychology. These are the method of member checking, the method of inter-rater reliability, and the notion of universal criteria. Problems with each method are first highlighted. Member checking and inter-rater reliability are shown to be ineffective for verification, trustworthiness, or reliability purposes. Next, universal criteria within the context of Tracy’s (2010) heavily drawn on paper within sport and exercise psychology is problematized.
Throughout the discussion of each method and universal criteria more suitable possibilities for conducting rigorous qualitative research are offered. The paper concludes that to support high quality qualitative research, scholars - including journal editors and reviewers - need to change how rigor is developed and judged, rather than perpetuate the problems with how it has been commonly evaluated in the past. Recommendations for developing rigor when conducting and/or judging qualitative research within sport and exercise psychology are also


Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date14 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2017


  • Member Checking, Inter-rater Reliability, Universal Criteria, Research Quality