Using Mixed Methods in Research

Using either quantitative or qualitative methods of research is insufficient in addressing many research questions. This article explains the merits of combining both methods.

Most of us are all too familiar with the terms quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative research method, as the term connotes, focuses on the analysis of a discrete set of ideas. Discrete, in this sense, means distinct ideas that can be subjected to the four statistical scales of variable measurement namely nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio. The quantitative approach is commonly used in the hard sciences such as the biological and the physical sciences, where the subjects being studied can be amassed in great quantities. This research method, however, could not be used more effectively in situations that require an in-depth understanding of the subject being scrutinized, particularly humans, who are regarded as complex beings whose behavior cannot be simply explained by numbers or simple quantification. It is viewed that the quantitative method provides a superficial answer to the issues at hand. The qualitative method, thus, comes into play.

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Purpose and Scope of the Study

The above explanation boils down to the realization that what really matters in the performance of research is for you as a researcher to be very clear about your purpose in doing research. What are your objectives in your investigation? What, really, is the purpose of your study?

The purpose or objectives of research define the direction of literature review, research design and data collection. You cannot afford to study all aspects of a phenomenon. It makes sense to limit your scope on those items that you can adequately answer with the resources you have at hand.

Two major questions arise that will help you shape your objectives:

  1. Are you competent enough to pursue the topic, and
  2. Do you have the time, money, and willingness to work towards the completion of your research?

Why Mixed Methods?

In every phenomenon, the 5Ws and 1H of reporting symbolizing the What, Why, When, Who, Where and How of a phenomenon, provides a complete picture for a thorough understanding of a point of interest. Applying the quantitative method answers the What, When, Where, and How Many of data in the form of numbers. It does not answer the Why‘s and How‘s of the phenomenon. Hence, the qualitative method comes in. Combining these two methods give rise to the recently getting popular research approach termed as Mixed Methods, which captures both the breadth and depth of information. Mixed Methods is more encompassing; a more comprehensive answer to research questions is arrived at.

Quantitative and qualitative research methods complement each other. thus, the use of Mixed Methods is a recommended approach especially when dealing with human behavior.

© 2013 December 17 P. A. Regoniel

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