In this chapter we explore the reasons why researchers use more than one data collection method in their research, and the potential benefits this can have for including disabled participants. We look at the use of triangulation, mixed methods and mixed media, and then go on to discuss the accessibility issues linked with a range of individual research methods
Triangulation1 refers to an approach that strategically uses more than one method, theory or researcher to collect and analyse data. The intended outcome is to derive a more consistent answer by validating the findings using more than one source. It can also mean analysing the same data with different methods, via ‘triangulation of data analysis techniques’ (Lauri, 2011). It can be used as an analysis strategy, where different members of the research team conduct analysis independently and then compare their findings, a tactic known as intercoder reliability (in qualitative research) or interrater reliability (in quantitative research) (O’Connor and Joffe, 2020). Crucially, triangulation is used to examine the same underlying concept or variable through different means:
The logic of triangulation is based on the premise that no single method ever adequately solves the problem of rival explanations. Because each method reveals different aspects of empirical reality, multiple methods of data collection and analysis provide more grist for the research mill. (Patton, 1999, p 1192)
However, it is not a given that the different approaches lead to consistent answers. Mathison (1988, p 15) argues that:
[i]n practice, triangulation as a strategy provides a rich and complex picture of some social phenomenon being studied, but rarely does it provide a clear path to a singular view of what is the case.