Content of the material
- Expert QA
- Evaluate the website itself
- How to ensure validity and reliability in your research
- Ensuring validity
- Ensuring reliability
- Check the author credentials
- Want to ace your next Physics Practical Assessment?
- Why Is Reliability Important to Employers?
- Relationship between reliability and accuracy
- What is the relationship between reliability and accuracy?
- How can you improve both accuracy and reliability?
Evaluate the website itself
Many websites offer valuable content without mentioning the author. So how can you be sure about what they say? In this scenario, you need to evaluate the website itself and the company behind it.
Check the comment boxes and see if there are many people disagreeing with what they say. Research their reviews and verify their ratings. Look for their About page and check what is their main goal and who is their team of experts. This information will help you to know how much they know what the topic in question.
- Don’t do any very critical task, if you are too tired or upset.
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- A brain surgery team is only as good as its least qualified participant when one slip or mistake is possibly fatal or devastating.
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How to ensure validity and reliability in your research
The reliability and validity of your results depends on creating a strong research design, choosing appropriate methods and samples, and conducting the research carefully and consistently.
If you use scores or ratings to measure variations in something (such as psychological traits, levels of ability or physical properties), it’s important that your results reflect the real variations as accurately as possible. Validity should be considered in the very earliest stages of your research, when you decide how you will collect your data.
- Choose appropriate methods of measurement
Ensure that your method and measurement technique are high quality and targeted to measure exactly what you want to know. They should be thoroughly researched and based on existing knowledge.
For example, to collect data on a personality trait, you could use a standardized questionnaire that is considered reliable and valid. If you develop your own questionnaire, it should be based on established theory or findings of previous studies, and the questions should be carefully and precisely worded.
- Use appropriate sampling methods to select your subjects
To produce valid generalizable results, clearly define the population you are researching (e.g. people from a specific age range, geographical location, or profession). Ensure that you have enough participants and that they are representative of the population.
Reliability should be considered throughout the data collection process. When you use a tool or technique to collect data, it’s important that the results are precise, stable and reproducible.
- Apply your methods consistently
Plan your method carefully to make sure you carry out the same steps in the same way for each measurement. This is especially important if multiple researchers are involved.
For example, if you are conducting interviews or observations, clearly define how specific behaviours or responses will be counted, and make sure questions are phrased the same way each time.
- Standardize the conditions of your research
When you collect your data, keep the circumstances as consistent as possible to reduce the influence of external factors that might create variation in the results.
For example, in an experimental setup, make sure all participants are given the same information and tested under the same conditions.
Check the author credentials
On the internet, there are several people talking about things that they barely understand themselves. And while it is OK to read these posts so to help you to come up with new ideas, you shouldn’t bet your life on them.
So check the author of the text you are reading and google it. Have a look at what they have written before if they are self-made people or which kind of credentials they have.
See if they have a website, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile. All this information will become very relevant if you are trying to figure out their credibility as a writer.
Want to ace your next Physics Practical Assessment?
Learn how to:
- Assess the validity, reliability and accuracy of any measurements and calculations
- Determine the sources of systematic and random errors
- Identify and apply appropriate mathematical formulae and concepts
- Draw appropriate graphs to convey relationships
with the Matrix Practical Skills Workbook.
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I meet someone and say I have to do something I promised to someone else and it will take five minutes. In exactly five minutes I return.
Why Is Reliability Important to Employers?
Reliability is one of the most fundamental and crucial qualities that an employee can possess. It’s the basic tenant of getting a job done in the first place. Employers care about a candidate’s dependability because it shows that they have a strong work ethic and can be trusted to complete their responsibilities on time and up to par.
In addition to aiding in the simple functions of being a team member in any field, reliable employees often go above and beyond the call of duty. They’re the person a supervisor can easily turn to when they need a helping hand. They go with the flow and continue to enable their company’s success.
Relationship between reliability and accuracy
What is the relationship between reliability and accuracy?
Reliability and accuracy are separate aspects of an experiment and the relationship between them is sometimes misunderstood.
Consider the following table:
|Accurate||The correct answer all the time.||The correct answer on average, but answers vary between repetitions.|
|Inaccurate||The same incorrect answer all the time.||An incorrect answer overall, and answers vary between repetitions.|
A result can be reliable and inaccurate if you get the same incorrect answer all the time (e.g. your friend is always 10 minutes late), and it can also be accurate and unreliable (e.g. your friend is more or less on time, but sometimes early, sometimes late).
A result can be reliable and inaccurate.
We can use shooting at a target as an example to further clarify our understanding of reliability and accuracy:
Image: Reliability vs Accuracy
In summary, all combinations are possible:
- accurate and reliable
- accurate and unreliable
- inaccurate and reliable
- inaccurate and unreliable
How can you improve both accuracy and reliability?
Some steps can be taken to improve both accuracy and reliability. For example, if you use better quality equipment, your measurements can be more reliable and more accurate.
If the measurement is easier to do, then you’re more likely to get the same result in each repetition.
Considering, for example, an experiment in which you must measure a short time period (around 1-2 s).
- If you time it by hand, your reaction time will introduce an error in the measurement.
- You can make the measurement more reliable by using light gates and a computer.
- You can also consider re-designing the experiment such that you need to measure a longer time period. Any error you then make is a smaller fraction of the measurement, and you are more likely to get the correct measurement (i.e. the same result) each time.
Ultimately though, you cannot make general conclusions about the reliability from the accuracy and vice versa. The reason is that they are affected by different types of experimental errors as mentioned above:
- accuracy is affected by systematic error, and
- reliability is affected by random errors.
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