Triangulation in Qualitative Research

Triangulation is where two or more research methods, or two researchers, use qualitative methods, or quantitative methods, to prove that you will come to the same conclusion when conducting the same study.

It is normal for sociologists not to adhere to a single method when conducting a study in order to combat the validity problem related to the sole use of quantitative data, or the issue of reliability linked to the sole use qualitative data.

The purpose of triangulation is to double-check for the same results. This helps increases reliability and validity in a study by showing that the same research methods can produce the same results, regardless of the researcher or the data used.

If a researcher decides to use one qualitative research method and some quantitative research methods, they are using both triangulation and methodological pluralism.

With the exception of environmental triangulation, Denzin (1978) identified the different types of triangulation researchers could use to conduct a study:

  • Investigator – uses a number of researchers.
  • Theoretical – employs multiple viewpoints to interpret a single set of data.
  • Data triangulation makes use of an assortment of data sources.
  • Environmental – involves the use of different locations and settings.
  • Methodological – uses numerous methods to study a single program.

Denzin is of the view that if you were to have two researchers who employ different methods to conduct a study in a psychiatric hospital, neither method, would produce the same results. For example, if one researcher uses a survey and the other participant observation, both will come away with different conclusions, but not the whole story.

However, the use of multiple methods may not always draw the same conclusions. This makes it hard to discover what went wrong. Researchers have different ways of working, which presents its own challenge. They may not share the same theories and ideas, which can lead to a conflict of interest due to biased assumptions.

Triangulation is also expensive and time-consuming.

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