Dealing with inconsistency and uncertainty in assessment

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Dealing with inconsistency and uncertainty in assessment

This symposium is about how we think about and talk about the concept of reliability, both technically and publicly. This paper explores some aspects of what we mean by reliability and poses some issues for further consideration.Technical and vernacular uses of the term reliability differ. Technically, reliability is seen to be about replicability—,if we did the assessment again, would we get the same result? On the other hand for the general public, it is about whether the results are accurate and believable. The technical usage involves estimation—,we cannot actually wipe the slate clean and do it all again. The vernacular usage is much more intuitive—,can we trust the results? Both deal with the degree of certainty (or uncertainty) we have in the results, but they differ in their focus and scope. Technical usage is specialised and restricted. Vernacular usage is much broader and expansive, incorporating at least something of the concept of validity.

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