Also important were characteristics of the

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prolonged engagement and persistent observation, audit trails and member checks. Also important were characteristics of the investigator, who must be responsive and adaptable to changing circumstances, holistic, having processional immediacy, sensitivity, and ability for clarification and summarization (Guba & Lincoln, 1981).These authors were rapidly followed by others either using Guba and Lincolns’ criteria (e.g., Sandelowski, 1986) or suggesting different labels to meet similar goals or criteria (see Whittemore, Chase, & Mandle, 2001). This resulted in a plethora of terms and criteria introduced for minute variations and situations in which rigor could be applied. Presently, thissituation is confusing and has resulted in a deteriorating ability to actually discern rigor. Perhaps as a result of this lack of clarity, standards were introduced in the 1980’s for the post hoc evaluation of qualitative inquiry (see Creswell, 1997; Frankel, 1999; Hammersley, 1992; Howe & Eisenhardt, 1990; Lincoln, 1995; Popay, Rogers & Williams, 1998;Thorne, 1997).StandardsWhile standards are a comprehensive approach to evaluating the research as a whole, they remain primarily reliant on procedures or checks by reviewers to be used following completion of the research. They represent either a minimally accepted level or an unobtainable gold standard for the researcher in the field. Subsequent clashes between the "ideal" and the "real" in the attainment of each standard are sometimes unavoidable. Those who evaluate completed research often forget that decisions that greatly influence the quality of the finished product may have, of necessity, been made quickly in the fieldwithout the privilege of knowing the overall research outcome or without being able to see theramifications of such a decision. Using standards, therefore, is a judgement of the relative worth of the research applied on completion of the project at a time when it is too late to correct problems that result in a poor rating.
Problems with post-hoc evaluationUsing standards for the purpose of post-hoc evaluation is to determine the extent to which the reviewers have confidence in the researcher’s competence in conducting research following established norms.Rigor is supported by tangible evidence using audit trails, member checks, memos, and so forth. If the evaluation is positive, one assumes that the study was rigorous. We challenge this assumption and suggest that these processes have little to do with the actual attainment of reliability and validity. Contrary to current practices, rigor does not rely on special procedures external to the research process itself. For example, audit trails may be kept as proof of the decisions made throughout the project, but they do little to identify the quality of those decisions, the rationale behind those decisions, or the responsiveness and sensitivity of the investigator to data. Of importance, an audit trail is of little use for identifying or justifying actual shortcomings that have impaired reliability and validity. Thus, they can neither be used

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