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We have studied GaN films grown on a-plane sapphire by hydride vapor phase epitaxy and metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy. The in-plane lattice parameter was determined from sets of equivalent interplanar distances measured for six different directions in order to examine the effect of strain anisotropy. It is found that, in both types of films, the obtained six values of the in-plane lattice parameter can be grouped around two values. The strain anisotropy is estimated to have different value in the films grown by the two techniques and possible explanations are suggested. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.