Validity is one of the qualities of a successful empirical research. The concept refers to the extent to which the study measures whatever it is meant to test (Ary, Jacobs, Irvine, & Walker, 2018). Validity in research occurs in two types: internal and external. The first aspect is the validity of the test and measurement itself. For an experiment to have internal validity, the researcher should ensure that the test procedure measures precisely what it is intended to measure. In addition, the results should capture what is intended rather than a different metric. The external validity is the ability of research findings to be generalized to other population from which the sample was drawn. Researchers should ensure that their studies qualify the two measurements to ensure validity.
Both internal and external types of validity are essential in research. One of the significant aspects of these qualities is to allow the analysis of the appropriateness, meaningfulness, and significance of an experiment or empirical research. A study that is valid in one instant might not meet the same condition in another setting because the instrument should measure what is intended in that particular study (Ary, Jacobs, Irvine, & Walker, 2018). Validity helps the researcher to acquire results that can be verified to suit the actual research that was performed. In case the findings are about something different, then they are invalid and inadequate to the researcher. If the instrument does not measure what it is expected to measure, the findings cannot answer the research questions. Furthermore, they cannot help in solving the original problem from which the study is generated.
Researchers should strive to achieve generalizability of their findings since they cannot collect data from the entire target population. Therefore, they draw a sample (some units from the population) from which they get the relevant data to answer a research question (s). Hence, it is imperative that the findings from the analyzed data are generalizable to the target population and potentially to similar settings. Therefore, this aspect makes the study relevant to the researcher and other stakeholders who could use the findings (Zohrabi, 2013). From this perspective, external validity is important in a research because of achieving generalizability of findings. If results are not valid, it means that the researcher provided misleading findings, which cannot be used for the present study and in the future research. Validity of findings is critical in all studies because of the necessity to apply the results to other settings.
Generally, invalid results are unusable and waste of time and resources. Furthermore, the nature of some studies requires the use of valid instruments; else, the researcher will create confusion or other detrimental consequences. For example, a psychological test to measure personality trait should have a high level of validity to prevent misleading results. A personality trait test that measures transitory emotions is invalid and should not be used. A valid instrument maintains accuracy of results and an actual reflection of what is being measured or assessed (Mertens, 2014). Furthermore, since findings are used in different settings, providing wrong or misleading results can be damaging. Therefore, researchers in all fields should ensure that they test the internal and external validity of their instruments to present valid findings. They should strive to provide results that are useful for the current study and future applications in research and practice.