The Reliability of Observational Data I. Theories and Methods for Speech-Language Pathology Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1994
The Reliability of Observational Data
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anne K. Cordes
    University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Contact author: Anne K. Cordes, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-7050.
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1994
The Reliability of Observational Data
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1994, Vol. 37, 264-278. doi:10.1044/jshr.3702.264
History: Received March 20, 1993 , Accepted October 29, 1993
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1994, Vol. 37, 264-278. doi:10.1044/jshr.3702.264
History: Received March 20, 1993; Accepted October 29, 1993

Much research and clinical work in speech-language pathology depends on the validity and reliability of data gathered through the direct observation of human behavior. This paper reviews several definitions of reliability, concluding that behavior observation data are reliable if they, and the experimental conclusions drawn from them, are not affected by differences among observers or by other variations in the recording context. The theoretical bases of several methods commonly used to estimate reliability for observational data are reviewed, with examples of the use of these methods drawn from a recent volume of the Journal of Speech and Hearing Research (35, 1992). Although most recent research publications in speech-language pathology have addressed the issue of reliability for their observational data to some extent, most reliability estimates do not clearly establish that the data or the experimental conclusions were replicable or unaffected by differences among observers. Suggestions are provided for improving the usefulness of the reliability estimates published in speech-language pathology research.

Acknowledgments
The influence of psychometrics courses taught by Richard J. Shavelson at the Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara, is gratefully acknowledged, but errors of fact, application, or interpretation are entirely my own. My thanks to Marilyn Demorest and Martin Young for their reviews of this manuscript. Preparation of this manuscript was supported by funds from grant #DC00060, awarded to Roger J. Ingham by the National Institutes of Health.
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