Triangles and crystals: on the geometry of qualitative research

Res Nurs Health. 1995 Dec;18(6):569-74. doi: 10.1002/nur.4770180612.


Triangulation has become increasingly appealing to researchers in nursing as a device to grasp the complexity of human phenomena, operationalize the holistic elan of nursing, and to accommodate both qualitative and quantitative approaches to inquiry. Yet, a misplaced ecumenicism, definitional drift, and conceptual misappropriation are evident in discussions of triangulation, which has become a technique for everything. Moreover, the triangle is somewhat lacking as image and metaphor for qualitative inquiry. As an idea and technique (in)formed by the triangle, triangulation should be used only to refer to a distinctive strategy for confirmation employed within research paradigms in which convergent and consensual validity are valued, and in which it is deemed appropriate to use information from one source to corroborate another.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nursing Research / methods*
  • Nursing Research / trends