Mixed Method Research
What is a mixed method research?
Mixed methods research is the type of research in which a researcher or team of researchers combines elements of qualitative and quantitative research approaches (e.g., use of qualitative and quantitative viewpoints, data collection, analysis, inference techniques) for the broad purposes of breadth and depth of understanding and corroboration (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, Turner 2007).
There are different approaches to this method and they can be divided depending on four factors: the theoretical perspective, the priority of strategy, the sequence of data collection implementation and the point at which the data are integrated (Terrell, 2012).
Theoretical perspective can be explicit or implicit meaning it’s firmly based, or not, on a theory.
When talking about the priority of strategy it can mean relying on a qualitative (qualitative dominant) or quantitative (quantitative dominant) research process while adding value of the other to bring more meaning and understanding to the research results. This strategy can use both methods equally as well.
Figure 1. Graphic of the Three Major Research Paradigms, Including Subtypes of Mixed Methods Research (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie 2004)
The sequence of data collection implementation can put qualitative or quantitative data first or have no specific sequence.
Integration of data can occur at collection, analysis, interpretation or with some combination between them during different processes.
Why is it used?
This method is used to provide a fuller picture and a deeper understanding of the researched subject. The quantitative results are better understood when expanding to their qualitative values. Sometimes this can give answers to problems that cannot be explained using a mono-method study.
One argument posited by proponents of mixed methods studies is that they address much more comprehensive research purposes than do quantitative or qualitative research alone (Newman, Ridenour, Newman, & DeMarco, 2003)
Strategies and design types
There is four major type of mixed methods design. They are the following:
The Triangulation Design - one-phase design in which researchers implement the quantitative and qualitative methods during the same timeframe and with equal weight.
Figure 2. The triangulation design (Creswell, 2013, p.63)
The embedded design – a design in which one data set provides a secondary role in a study based primarily on the other type.
Figure 3. The embedded design (Creswell, 2013, p.68)
The explanatory design – consists of two fazes in which the qualitative data explains and builds upon quantitative results initially collected.
Figure 4. The explanatory design (Creswell, 2013, p.73)
The exploratory design – like in the explanatory design, a qualitative method is first used and then a quantitative to complement the research. This way the researcher explores possibilities when there is a lack of measurements or guiding framework or theory.
Figure 4. The exploratory design (Creswell, 2013, p.76)
The following are some of the defined strategies used in mixed method research;
Sequential explanatory strategy – uses quantitative data collection and analysis and is then followed by qualitative data collection and analysis.
This strategy can be used vice versa, meaning giving priority to qualitative analysis. It depends on the focus of the research.
When the primary focus is on explaining quantitative data we use the first option, and if …