What is triangulation in User Research (UX research)?

What is Triangulation in research

What is Triangulation 

One of the biggest challenge or doubt for any research project is to bring confidence levels in research findings & insights. To increase confidence in to insights researchers often use a technique called ‘Triangulation’, which is nothing but to gather the insights from multiple methods or ways for the same research question(s). According to Wikipedia - triangulation refers to the application and combination of several research methods in the study of the same phenomenon. By combining multiple observers, theories, methods, and empirical materials, researchers hope to overcome the weakness or intrinsic biases and the problems that come from single method, single-observer, and single-theory studies. 

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The term ‘triangulation’ originates in the field of navigation where a location is determined by using the angles from two known points. Triangulation can be used in both qualitative studies & quantitative studies and popularily used in Sociology. The purpose of triangulation in qualitative research is to increase the credibility and validity of the results.

Triangulation is an analysis technique used in multi-method research designs. Many research projects utilize more than one data collection method, leading to the development of different datasets. Datasets might be those collected from a quantitative survey or participant observation, for example. The results from the datasets are analyzed independently, but they also need to be compared to each other in some way. How they are compared depends on the methodological framework used. Triangulation is one technique to combine datasets, and three different kinds of triangulation can be distinguished: convergence, complementarity, and divergence or dissonance.  (International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2009)

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Types of triangulation 

1. Data triangulation: involves time, space, and persons. 

2. Investigator triangulation: involves multiple researchers in an investigation. 

3. Theory triangulation: involves using more than one theoretical scheme in the interpretation of the phenomenon. 

4. Methodological triangulation: involves using more than one method to gather data, such as interviews, observations, questionnaires, and documents.

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Triangulation in UX research (user research) 

Triangulation involves using several data collection techniques in order to validate findings. For example, instead of performing solely qualitative interviews for data collection, add focus group sessions, collection of documents, and/or collection of personal journal entries from participants. These additions bolster the quality of your findings. (Cheryl Patton, PhD). According to NNgroup’s article on Triangulation in UX research - Triangulation means looking at a question from a different point of view, which lets you see part of the answer that wasn’t previously apparent. You’ve probably done this many times in your everyday life — when you asked someone else’s opinion about a situation, hoping that a different point of view will reveal something that wasn’t obvious to you. In UX research, to triangulate the findings one can combine the research methods and support the findings by doing comparison analysis. Also one can relook at the historic (previous research) and triangulate with present findings using comparison. Having said that for referencing the previous or historic research, consider the insights validity in to account.






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