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An audit trail is a transparent description of the research steps taken from the start of a research project to the development and reporting of findings.
This should include research design and data collection decisions and the steps taken to manage, analyze and report data.
This should include information about sampling, clarification of the role of different research team members as well as the role of different data sources.
The auditor can go from this listing to the field notes, audio and video recordings, and other files associated with the inquiry to reconstruct how the study was conducted, how conclusions were reached, and to make the dependability and confirmability judgments described earlier.
An example of an audit trail index (the actual audit trail was 54 pages long) is included in an appendix to Marné’s study in Appendix B of this book.
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Reporting should also include a rationale for these decisions.
With regard to data analysis, Malterud (2001) underscores the need for one to provide a detailed report of the analytical steps taken in a study when she write: Declaring that qualitative analysis was done, or stating that categories emerged when the material had been read by one or more persons, is not sufficient to expalin how and why patterns were notice...
They finalize their vote by pressing a button or pulling a lever, and the paper record is stored.
(This is called a voter verified paper audit trail.) At no point can the voter remove the paper record from the voting area.