Mixed methods have often been presented as a way to make peace between advocates of quantitative versus qualitative research.
Let’s learn more about the advantages of merging these research methods to obtain better results.
What is mixed research?
Mixed research is a research methodology that consists of collecting, analyzing, and integrating both quantitative and qualitative research.
The quantitative data include closed information such as that used to measure attitudes, for example, rating scales.
The analysis of this type of data consists of statistically analyzing the collected scores, for example through surveys, to answer research questions or test hypotheses.
The qualitative data are usually open information the researcher collected through interviews, focus groups and observations. The analysis of qualitative data (words, texts or behaviors) usually consists of separating them by categories to know the diversity of ideas gathered during data collection.
By conducting a mixed research of both quantitative and qualitative data, the researcher gains breadth and depth in understanding and corroboration, while compensating for the inherent weaknesses of using each approach separately. Advantages of mixed methods research
When to use a mixed research?
When conducting a mixed research, different methods and data sources are used to examine the same phenomenon. Triangulation makes it possible to identify aspects of a phenomenon with greater precision by approaching it from different points of view.
Mixed research is ideal for:
- When you want to validate or corroborate the results obtained with other methods.
- When you need to use one method to inform another. For example, when little is known about a topic and it is necessary to first know which variables to study through qualitative research and then study those variables with a large sample of individuals using quantitative research .
- When you want to continuously analyze a research question from different angles, and clarify unexpected findings and / or possible contradictions.
- When you want to elaborate, clarify or build on the findings of other methods. For example, if a causal relationship has been established through experimental research , but you want to understand and explain the causal processes involved through qualitative research.
- When you want to develop a theory about a phenomenon of interest and then put it to the test. Qualitative research is generally better suited to building a theory, while quantitative research provides a better way to test theories.
- When you want to generalize the results of qualitative research.
Advantages of mixed research
These are some of the benefits of having mixed research as an option for your next project:
- It provides a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the research problem than doing it separately.
- It provides a better focus by developing better and more specific instruments according to the research context.
- Helps explain findings or how causal processes work.
- More precise perspective of the phenomenon (comprehensive, complete and holistic).
- Helps to clarify and formulate the problem statement, as well as the most appropriate ways to study and theorize research problems.
- The multiplicity of observations produces more varied data; diverse sources and types of data, contexts or environments and analyzes are considered.
- Theoretical creativity is enhanced. Advantages of mixed methods research
- They support scientific inferences more robustly than if they are used in isolation
Disadvantages and limitations
Mixed research has some disadvantages, for example:
- Research method can be very complex.
- Much more time and resources are required to plan and implement this type of research.
- It can be difficult to plan and apply one method using the results of another.
- How to resolve discrepancies that arise in the interpretation of the results may be unclear.
Types of mixed research method
When deciding what type of mixed research method to use, it is important to consider the overall objective of the research, the specific research questions, and the strengths and weaknesses of each design. Advantages of mixed methods research
These are the four main mixed research methods:
- Sequential explanatory method: This method involves the collection and analysis of quantitative data, followed by the collection and analysis of qualitative data. Quantitative data is prioritized and conclusions are integrated during the interpretation phase of the study.
- Sequential exploratory method: In this method, the collection and analysis of qualitative research data is followed by the collection and analysis of quantitative data. The qualitative aspect of the study is given priority and the conclusions are integrated during the interpretation phase of the study.
- Concurrent triangulation strategy: This method uses only one data collection phase, during which the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data are carried out separately, but simultaneously. The results are integrated during the interpretation phase of the study. Generally, both types of research are given the same priority.
- Concurrent nesting: In this mixed research method only one data collection phase is used, during which one predominant method (quantitative or qualitative) nests the other less priority method (qualitative or quantitative, respectively). This nesting may mean that the embedded method addresses a different question than the prevailing method or looks for information at different levels. The data collected with the two methods is mixed during the analysis phase of the project.