Triangulation is a data analysis technique that focuses on comparing views or viewpoints from the data collected. Through this, the methods used to study the phenomenon are united. Either those of quantitative or qualitative orientation. This term is used to indicate that two (or more) techniques or methods are used in the same study in an articulated way to achieve their results. “The concept of triangulation is taken from navigation and topography techniques, which determine a single point in space from the convergence of measurements taken from two other distinct points.”
Therefore, its purpose or purpose is the contrast of several data and methods that are focused on the same problem. In this way, comparisons can be made, the impressions of different groups can be taken, in different contexts and temporalities. The problem is thus assessed with breadth, diversity, impartiality and objectivity.
Triangulation according to Vallejos and Finol
For this reason, Vallejos and Finol (2009) in their research article entitled: Triangulation as an Analysis Procedure for Educational Research highlight the following:
Triangulation in social research has many advantages because using different methods, these act as filters through which reality is captured selectively. Therefore, it is convenient to collect the event data with different methods. If the methods differ from each other, in this way they will provide the researcher with a greater degree of confidence. This minimizes the subjectivity that could exist in any act of human intervention.
That is why it is necessary to face the object of research from different prisms, especially when the subject of study is broad and is influenced by various causes, which may or may not be interrelated. The practicality of the triangulation of the group is not given only by its multidisciplinary nature. This enriches the design of the tool for obtaining information (qualitative and / or quantitative). In addition, the joint and synchronous analysis of the data obtained is feasible.
Types of triangulations and their definitions
Types of Triangulation according to Denzin (1978)
Denzin (1978) identified four basic types of triangulation:
- Data: involves time, space and person.
- Researchers: involves multiple researchers in the same study.
- Theory: involves using more than one theoretical scheme in the interpretation of the phenomenon.
- Methodological: involves using more than one method to gather data, such as interviews, observations, questionnaires, and documents.
By combining multiple observers, theories, methods and empirical materials, researchers can expect to overcome intrinsic weaknesses or biases and problems that come from a single method, a single observer and a single theory. Triangulation is a powerful technique that facilitates data validation through the crossing of two or more data sources. In particular, it refers to the application and combination of various research methods in the study of the same phenomenon.
When referring to this type of triangulation, the authors propose the crossing of various strategies used to collect data. “Its objective is to verify the trends detected in a certain group of observations. The confrontation of the data can be based on space-time criteria and levels of analysis, ”they add.
With regard to the spatio-temporal criteria, the spatial refers to the fact that the study does not focus on populations located in the same place that refer to the same culture. It refers to the variability of working with subjects from different areas and temporality has to do with the study of the phenomenon at different times.
Therefore, Leal (2005) in the book entitled The Autonomy of the Research Subject and Research Methodology, refers to this type of triangulation in this way:
He calls it methods and techniques and states that it has to do with the multiple use of methods to study a specific problem. “For example, when the interview technique is used as an initial process of collecting information and then be contrasted with participant observation and / or group discussion.”
The triangulation of people
It is a type of opposition of data from subjects of various grouping natures. For example, she herself, a family group, a community, a couple… etc.
Ruth and Finol (2009) point out that the researcher can collect data from individuals, couples or groups, or each of the three types. Data collection from one source is used to validate data from the other sources or only one. Each level of data is used to validate the findings of the other level.
Triangulation of researchers
Likewise, the triangulation of people, that of researchers, are subjects specialized in the analysis of a phenomenon. This group may present differences in its composition and its way of relating to the object of study, because its years of training and type of training do not have to be the same.
Leal (2005)… “based on the principle of complementarity, it is possible to compare or triangulate the results of qualitative and quantitative research to have a closer view of reality”.
Finally, this author points out that each triangulation has a structural process. That is, a kind of scheme for its development that in each of the cases is given thanks to another important point such as the categories. These originate from the data, characterize the phenomenon of study and guide these oppositions or contrasts.
Advantages of Triangulation
Among the advantages of triangulation are:
- It can be used in both quantitative and qualitative studies.
- It is an appropriate method-strategy to strengthen the credibility of qualitative analyzes.
- It becomes an alternative to traditional criteria such as reliability and validity.
- It is used with preference in the social sciences.
The purpose of triangulation in qualitative research is to increase the credibility and validity of the results. Several researchers have defined triangulation in recent years:
Cohen and Manion (2000) define triangulation as an “attempt to map or explain more fully, the richness and complexity of human behavior by studying it from more than one point of view.”
Altrichter et al. (2008) argues that triangulation “gives a more detailed and balanced picture of the situation”.
According to O’Donoghue and Punch (2003), triangulation is a “method of cross-checking across multiple sources to look for regularities in research data.”
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Denzin, N. K. (1978). The research act. A theoretical introduction to sociologicalmethods. New York: McGraw Hill.
Vallejos, Ruth and Finol de Franco, Mineira (2009). Triangulation as an analysis procedure for educational research. REDHECS: Electronic Journal of Humanities, Education and Social Communication. Year 4, Nº. 7, 2009, pp. 117-133
Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education. 5th Edition, Routledge Falmer, London.
O’Donoghue, T., & Punch, K. (2003). Qualitative Educational Research in Action: Doing and Reflecting. Falmer Press.
Leal, J. (2005). The autonomy of the research subject and the methodology of the researcher. Merida. Liturama