Transferability in Qualitative Research

We can define transferability in qualitative research as the degree to which the results of a research can apply or transfer beyond the bounds of the project. Transferability implies that results of the research study can be applicable to similar situations or individuals.

The knowledge which was obtained in context will be relevant in another and investigators who carry out research in another context will be able to utilize certain concepts which were initially developed. It is comparable to generalisability.

Lincoln and Guba say that “as the naturalist can’t specify the external validity of an enquiry, she can only give a tick description essential to enable someone interested in making transfer to reach a conclusion about whether a transfer can be contemplated as a possibility”.

Transferability in research is utilized by the readers of study. Even though generalizability typically is applicable only to certain forms of quantitative methods, transferability can apply in varying degrees to many types of research. Unlike generalizability, transferability doesn’t involve broad claims, but invites readers of research to make associations between elements of research and their own experience. For example, lecturers at a school may selectively apply to their own classes results from a research indicating that heuristic writing exercises aid students at the university level.

It is crucial that adequate thick description of the phenomenon under study is given to allow audience to have a proper understanding of it, thus enabling them to compare the instances of the phenomenon explained in the research document with those that they have seen emerge in their situations.

Transferability in Qualitative Research

Figure 1 – Definition of Transferability

The researcher’s must express to the audience the boundaries of the study. This additional information should be considered before any efforts at transference are made. Thus information on the following points needs to be provided at the beginning:

  • how many organisations are participating in the research and where they are located;
  • any constraints in the type of individuals who provided information;
  • the volume of individuals active in the fieldwork;
  • the data collection techniques which were utilized;
  • the number and length of the data collection sessions;
  • the period of time over which the data was accumulated.

Read Also: Confirmability in Qualitative Research

It isn’t difficult for research workers to develop a preoccupation with transferability. In the end, the results of a qualitative research must be understood within the context of the specific characteristics of the business or organisations and, perhaps, physical location where the fieldwork was performed. To be able to evaluate the extent to which findings could be true of people in other settings, similar projects using the same techniques but carried out in different conditions could well be of great value.

Even if distinct investigations provide results which aren’t completely in line with each other, this doesn’t, of course, mean that one or more is untrustworthy. It may be that they merely mirror multiple realities, and, if an appreciation can be gained of the reasons behind the variations, this understanding may prove as helpful to the reader as the results actually noted.

Read Also: Trustworthiness in Research

Limitations of Transferability in Qualitative Research

Understanding research outcomes can help us realize why and how something occurs. However, many experts think that such understanding is tough to achieve with regards to human behaviors which they contend are extremely difficult to understand and often impossible to predict. As the results of a qualitative study are specific to a small number of environments and people, it is extremely hard to show that the conclusions and findings can be applied to other situations and populations.

Transferability in research considers the fact that there aren’t any absolute solutions to provided situations; rather, every person should determine their very own best practices. Transferring the results of research done by others might help us develop and alter these practices. But, it is crucial for audience of research to bear in mind that results cannot always be transferred; a result which happens in one situation is not going to necessarily occur in an identical situation. For that reason, it is advisable to consider variations between situations and customize the research process appropriately.

Despite the fact that transferability in qualitative research appears to be an obvious, natural, and crucial way of utilizing research results and findings, it is not regarded as a valid research approach in some academic groups.

Read Also: Credibility in Research

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