Is replication possible for qualitative research?

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There has been much debate in recent years about how open research practices, which have been promoted in efforts to improve research robustness, may (not) be appropriate for qualitative methodologies, particularly in educational research. Among these is a concern for replication efforts. Makel et al. (2022) make the case that ‘replication is relevant for qualitative research’. The authors argue that concerns surrounding transferability, intentionality, and transparency of qualitative research may be eased, or responded to, by replication studies. Here, I argue that there are three fundamental questions that need unpacking before declarative claims can be made about the relevance of replication for qualitative research. This includes critical questioning what we mean by: replication, qualitative research, and rigour. I address each of these issues and encourage a more nuanced appraisal of how replication may, or may not, be epistemologically, ontologically, or methodologically compatible with the goals of qualitative research.

Ryan Watkins