Classmates Discussion Post:
“To what extent is mixed methods research simply taking a quantitative design and a qualitative design and putting them together?”
Johnson, Onwuegbuzie and Turner (2007) define mixed methods research as “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” (p.123). By mixing both quantitative and qualitative research and data, the researcher gains in breadth and depth of understanding and corroboration, while offsetting the weaknesses inherent to using each approach by itself. The value of the mixed method, of a quantitative and qualitative approach, therefore, is that whereas the quantitative design increases the generalization of the findings, the qualitative method provides better understanding of contradictory findings without having to eliminate outliers from analysis (Tashakkori & Creswell, 2007). According to Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004), a key feature of mixed methods research is its ‘methodological pluralism or eclecticism’, which frequently results in superior research compared to ‘monomethod research’.
Also, a central characteristic of mixed methods is the concept of pragmatism, in that the focus is on what works, and what is of practical use, as opposed to considerations of how reality and truth should be constructed. Furthermore, another advantageous characteristics of conducting mixed methods research is the possibility of triangulation, i.e., the use of several means (methods, data sources and researchers) to examine the same phenomenon. Triangulation allows one to identify aspects of a phenomenon more accurately by approaching it from different vantage points using different methods and techniques. Successful triangulation requires careful analysis of the type of information provided by each method, including its strengths and weaknesses (Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, & Turner, 2007).
Next, explain the types of research questions best served by mixed methods research
Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2006) describe mixed methods research questions “as questions that embed quantitative and qualitative research questions. That is, mixed methods research questions combine or mix both the quantitative and qualitative research questions” (p. 477). They explained that the mixed methods research question “necessitates that both quantitative data and qualitative data be collected and analyzed either concurrently, sequentially, or iteratively before the question is addressed” (p.477).
Further noting the orientation of the mixed methods research questions, Johnson et al. (2007) noted that “every mixed methods research study is situated somewhere along this bottom-up/top-down conceptualization continuum” (p.122). They stated that the ‘bottom-up’ approach is where the research question drives the mixed methods research approach. Whereas in the ‘top-down’ approach, the mixed methods approach is not driven by the research question; “rather, it is driven by the researcher’s quest to conduct research that is emancipatory, anti-discriminatory, participatory, and the like, which focuses squarely on the lives and experiences of marginalized persons or groups such as women; ethnic/racial/ cultural minorities; religious minorities; individuals with disabilities/exceptionalities; and members of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual communities (i.e., transformative emancipatory research)” (p.122).
Then, explain one strength and one limitation of mixed methods research
One core strength, as described by Johnson & Onwuegbuzie (2004) can be found in the “goal of mixed methods research (which) is not to replace either of these approaches but rather to draw from the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of both in single research studies and across studies” (pp. 14-15). Thus, the use of mixed method research offsets the weaknesses of both quantitative and qualitative research. For instance, quantitative research is weak in understanding the context or setting in which people behave, something that qualitative research makes up for. On the other hand, qualitative research is seen as deficient because of the potential for biased interpretations made by the researcher and the difficulty in generalizing findings to a large group. Quantitative research does not have these weaknesses. Consequently, by using both types of research, the strengths of each approach can make up for the weaknesses of the other.
On the other hand, mixed method research has some disadvantages and limitations, especially the fact that it may be unclear how to resolve discrepancies that arise in the interpretation of the findings. According to Bryman (2008) there’s a possible limitation, in case the results of the two methods appear to be inconsistent (p. 611). Collins and O’Cathain (2009) further notes that the research design can be very complex due to the need to ensure that the formulation of research questions complies with the double character of the research design (p.4).
Finally, provide a rationale for or against the utility of mixed methods research in your discipline
Collins and O’Cathain (2009) highlighted the rationale for mixed methods research as “an integrated analysis of combined research methods (that) can help in legitimating inferences [validating data] and formulating generalisations through ‘inference transferability’” (p. 6). In this regard, one can state that the basis of using mixed methods research is when one wants to validate or corroborate the results obtained from other methods or when one needs to use one method to inform another method. For instance, in public policy, when little is known about a topic and it is necessary to first learn about what variables to study through qualitative research, and then study those variables with a large sample of individuals using quantitative research. Thus, using a mixed methods approach allows for a complete and well-rounded understanding of a problem (Laureate Education, 2009b).