Understanding Mixed Research Methods

| August 26, 2017

Understanding Mixed Research Methods

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What Are Mixed Research Methods?

Simply put, mixed research is the combination of  qualitative and quantitative research methodology, and is used in studies where there is a need for a better understanding of the problem.  The main benefits of mixed methods research are as follows:

  • Better understanding of the research problem
  • More insight than simple quantitative methods
  • Allows the validation of qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Provides more information than single method research

There are, however, some limitations and disadvantages of mixed method research design, as well, such as:

  • The complexity of the research data makes it hard to interpret and analyse
  • Takes a lot of time to plan and execute
  • There is a greater chance that discrepancies will arise than in single method research

The main differences between mono and multiple methods are presented in the below graph.

Mixed Methods Research

The Purpose of Mixed Methods Research

The main reason why most students and researchers use mixed methods is because one type of data would not be enough to provide answers to the research questions or test the hypothesis. In other cases, the secondary method is added to improve the quality of the data, or, the study might have multiple phases.

Mixed methods are popular today, as many researchers are looking to investigate issues from different perspectives. If the findings of one research method are unexpected, a second method might be needed to interpret the discrepancies.

The application of mixed methods is the most common in the following fields:

  • Nursing and social care
  • Educational research
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Political sciences

How to Design a Mixed Resesarch Study?

It is important to determine the sequence of data collection and clarify the analysis methods.  First, the author will need to choose the mixed research design they would like to use in their study. There are four main mixed research design approaches used in health and social studies, education, marketing:

  1. Sequential explanatory design

This method first collects and analyses quantitative data, and later validate and explain the results using qualitative research. The focus of this approach is on the quantitative research, and the qualitative study helps put the results into context.

  1. Sequential exploratory design

In this approach, the first research conducted is qualitative, followed by a quantitative study that is integrated in the interpretation of the results. The focus of this study design is on quantitative data. You can use this research design to explore a phenomenon in detail or test a new theory.

  1. Concurrent triangulation

In this method, qualitative and quantitative research have equal priority, and they are conducted separately. The results of the two individual data collections are discussed in the interpretation of the findings. This mixed method is most suitable for validating the results of one method with the other.

  1. Concurrent nested

In this method, the author will need to choose a dominant data collection method, and nest the results of the other type of research in the interpretation phase of the study. The information is interpreted together, to provide a deeper understanding of a phenomenon.

Before deciding which method to choose, it is important to plan where the point of interface between the two research methods will be: at the point of

  • Data collection
  • Data analysis
  • Interpretation

The Mixed Methods Research Design

Mixed methods research is more complicated than either quantitative or qualitative. Therefore, you must plan your data collection, analysis, and interpretation phases carefully. Use the below flow chart to create your own design that is fit for the purpose of your study.

First, develop your research questions for the qualitative and quantitative studies. Next, you will need to identify your samples and determine the sample size of both qualitative and quantitative data collection. Decide whether the sample sizes will be equal or unequal. Finally, make a plan for merging qualitative and quantitative data and interpreting them in a logical way.

Mixed Methods Research 2

How to Make the Most Out of Your Mixed Research Design?

  • You must ensure that you have a clear research strategy that describes your methodological approach and the interpretation of the results. You need to describe the different phases of research, such as exploration, triangulation, complimentarity, transformation of data, and the dissemination of the results.
  • It is important that when you structure your mixed method research, you clarify this in the methodology section and cover the data collection and analysis methods separately for qualitative and quantitative research. Likewise, you will have to first present the findings of both research together, followed by the synthesis of findings and the results section.
  • Develop your research questions and add sub-questions that further focus on the specific aspects of the issue you investigate using mixed methods.
  • You need to focus on the Rationale section of your paper and effectively communicate why using the mixed research method provides a better understanding of the issue than single methodologies. Always justify your choice of data collection.
  • Do not neglect theories and theses. Using a mixed methodology can help you test your hypotheses better, develop new theses, or confirm research statements or answer important questions related to the field.
  • Just like other research designs, your study will need to include the limitations of the research, as well as the insights you gained through the study.

Good mixed research studies are well developed, clear, integrate the quality standards of both qualitative and quantitative research, provide more information than standard studies, and include the discussion of ethical issues related to the mixed methodology.

Get Help with Your Mixed Methods Research Design

Planning your mixed research design can be overwhelming, and you might feel like you are unable to develop clear research questions that are related to both data collection and analysis methods. Merging information to gain a greater insight into problems is the main benefit of using mixed research, however, the approach is not without challenges. Talk to WritePass and let our professional academic writers and editors help you design your mixed methods research.

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