Views about the Usefulness of Triangulation
Researchers triangulate among different sources of data to enhance accuracy of their study (Creswell 2008). However this description is fairly simplistic. Gorard and Taylor put forward a more complex idea that the desired outcome from triangulation in research is for new material to synergize from the triangulated material (2004, p42-43).
Creswell's Simple View of Triangulation
Creswell explains the idea of data validation by saying that triangulation is the process of corroborating evidence from
- different individuals such as parents, students and teachers in a school setting
- types of data such as field notes, and case studies
- methods of data collection such as documents and interviews
This all culminates in descriptions and themes in qualitative research.
On this account of triangulation in research, the researcher tries to draw on multiple viewpoints to draw out a theme. The situation is that simple. By drawing on multiple viewpoints, the researchers feel confident that they may be moving towards accuracy and credibility as they tap into a variety of sources of information, confirmation, individuals and processes of data collection.
Gorad and Taylor's Explanation of the Complexity of Triangulation
Gorad and Taylor explore a popular idea that some people hold about triangulation. On this account triangulated research employs data collected from at least three sources. They say that the fourth synergy comes from the triangulated space created by the encapsulation of the three points of view, or vantage points.
Another view of triangulated research claims researchers need only draw upon two sources of data and that the synergy from these two viewpoints creates the third axis.
Another point of contention within this confusing definition argues about whether Action Research data must be drawn from a single investigation or whether data from another investigation can be attracted into a second inquiry.