The problem addressed in this case study stemmed from recognition of qualitative researchers’ desire to triangulate findings with two or more data sources. In this study, I describe the process of using visual data to verify, contradict, or enhance verbal data using a soft systems methodology tool called rich pictures. To date, the process of comparing verbal data and visual data has not been well explored. I use secondary data from a Ph.D. study about faculty members’ perceptions of academic quality to compare two data sources: participants’ verbal definitions of academic quality and participants’ verbal descriptions of rich pictures representing their visual conceptions of academic quality. Three rich picture examples illustrate the varying degrees to which rich picture descriptions may align with verbal definitions. Some participants’ rich picture descriptions were partially or completely consistent with their initial definitions of the phenomenon under study. However, in most cases, participants’ descriptions of their rich pictures added new data to their initial definitions of academic quality, thus generating new insights. I recommend asking participants to describe their rich pictures in their own words, thereby facilitating a direct comparison of participants’ verbal and visual data.


Rich Pictures, Systems Thinking, Soft Systems Methodology (SSM)

Author Bio(s)

Carol M. Booton, Ph.D. is an independent researcher. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: carolbooton@yahoo.com.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.