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The external audit is a way of assessing the trustworthiness of a study, attesting to its dependability from a methodological standpoint and to its confirmability by reviewing the data, analysis, and interpretations and assessing whether the findings represent the data accurately. This paper discusses issues in the audit process, drawing on data from interviews with three faculty members (teacher educators) and eight students whose dissertations were audited. The purpose of an audit is to examine the process and the product of the research inquiry. It examines the audit trail materials used by the researcher, such as raw data, data reduction and analysis products, reconstruction and synthesis products, notes, materials related to intentions and dispositions, and instrument development information. Validity and verification documentation and materials specifically prepared for the audit process are also examined. The process used to conduct an audit is described, from the initial consultation with the researchers through the review of the dissertation. The object is to determine whether the research process is documented clearly and whether the conclusions and interpretations are supported by the data and warranted based on the documentation provided. The confirmation students receive from the audit can provide greater confidence in the qualitative research process. One appendix presents an attestation prepared as the result of an audit, and the other discusses types of materials submitted for an external audit. (Contains 20 references.) (SLD)

Descriptors: College Faculty, Data Analysis, Data Collection, Graduate Students, Graduate Study, Higher Education, Qualitative Research, Research Methodology, Research Reports, Synthesis, Test Construction, Validity

Autor: Miller, Dana L.


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