In qualitative methodology, such as case study, grounded theory, and phenomenology, you can improve the validity of your findings if you use one of various forms of triangulation.

Here is the most comprehensive definition I have found of “triangulation” from Thomas Schwandt’s
The Sage Dictionary of Qualitative Inquiry:

“Triangulation is a means of checking the integrity of the inferences one draws. It can involve the use of multiple data sources, multiple investigators, multiple theoretical perspectives, and/or multiple methods.” (p. 298) He continues: “The strategy of triangulation is often wedded to the assumption that data from different sources or methods must necessarily converge or be aggregated to reveal the truth.” (p. 298)

This is the most comprehensive definition I have found for triangulation. It easily supports the following three-step approach I have suggested to a number of clients, who conducted interviews in their phenomenological or case study designs:

Step One

Interviews are conducted and audio taped. Note-taking is not a good activity to engage in because it distracts the interviewer from what the participant is saying and contributes to missed opportunities for more probing questions for clarification and elaboration.

Step Two

Audio recordings are transcribed and returned to participants for their review and approval. This is what Vogt (2005) calls “member check (or validation).” His definition is:

“The practice of researchers submitting their data or findings to their informants (members) in order to make sure they correctly represented what their informants told them. This is perhaps most often done with data, such as interview summaries; it is less often done with interpretations built on those data.” (p. 190-191)

Step Three

Researcher collaborates with an “outside evaluator” or “external auditor” during data analysis (identifying meaning units from the transcripts and making the conversion into themes). Schwandt states:

“This is a procedure (of auditing) whereby an independent, third-party examiner systematically reviews an audit trail maintained by the inquirer. An audit trail is a systematically maintained documentation system.” (p.12)

You will find that, with the inclusion of this form of triangulation in your data analysis procedures, your chair will appreciate your efforts to use a validation strategy. This lessens the concerns many chairpersons have over possible subjectivity of the findings.