Journal article Open Access
The practice of member-checking has become increasingly important in field-based political science research. We define member-checking as the process of discussing or sharing a part of research with the project’s participants. The purpose is ostensibly to ensure the accuracy of what participants said and whether the researcher’s inferences and arguments seem plausible to them. Implied in this definition is validity. Part of member-checking’s importance stems from allegations of falsified data in some published research (Lubet 2018). In addition, the idea of replicability is also implied here. Rather than others attempting to replicate the study, however, researchers do so themselves to demonstrate that they acted in good faith. In short, if members confirm that we as researchers “got it right,” it lends additional credibility to our work. There are other reasons to engage in the practice of member-checking. Doing so can act as a response to those who argue that fieldwork is a haphazard process (Kapiszewski, Maclean, and Read 2015). In this sense, member-checking can make our research appear more systematic. Furthermore, an invitation into the lives of research participants can create obligations and inequalities that researchers may feel responsible for addressing (Kapiszewski, Maclean, and Read 2015). Member-checking is one way in which researchers can give back to the communities that so generously share their experiences with scholars.