Multiple Data Sources
The use of multiple data sources helps to reduce the potential for bias in qualitative research and provides rich information “to check for trends, to rule out competing explanations, and to corroborate findings” (GAO 1990).
For example, a single IPM related case study might involve:
- In-depth interviews with program participants or IPM end-users
- Analysis of documents or economic outcomes related to the program
- Observations of people “on-the-job”
- Completion of survey questionnaires by participants
The use of “triangulating” data sources helps to create a reliable description of the workings of a program by not relying too heavily on a single data source. Integrating input from people who have distinct program roles (e.g., farm manager, grower, crop consultant, pesticide applicator, extension educator) can reveal how communication, education, interpretation and implementation among all involved can affect program outcomes. (Also see Examples section).
Remember case studies often tell a “story” more than just analyzing data; however, they can also help support an IPM program or project by helping to explain some of the barriers to adoption of IPM, struggles in implementation, or unique ways that the program was successful.