Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to shed light on concepts of validity and validation of social marketing research (SMR) with a view to enhancing SMR design and to inform SMR practice. Design/methodology/approach - The paper defines and presents concepts of validity in a manner that sheds light on the unique issues facing SMR and sets the stage for future research. Findings - The paper introduces an integrated model representing the variety of relationships that exist amongst a range of validity concepts that will assist methodological practice and increased rigor in future studies. The authors also introduce a matrix on research paradigms that can support the integration of a range of philosophical considerations to SMR research design. Research limitations/implications - The quality of research is being determined by those at the leading edge of their own paradigm without reference to other points of view. The authors argue that these sub-processes of determining the validity of research outcomes are a challenge to the discipline of SMR and that SMR is at risk of becoming too narrowly focussed. Furthermore, the authors believe this is limiting SMR s potential to contribute to the broader domain of business or social research. Social implications - Social marketing is an interdisciplinary practice. The paradigms of research within the social marketing domain are still being argued and are the subject of much debate. The authors believe that the conceptual frameworks developed for this paper will enhance the practices of research in the field of social marketing. Originality/value - The paper provides a new conceptual framework for those developing SMR. This framework aims to integrate others theories and provide a simplified framework for consideration of issues of validation in SMR.