Mixed Methods Research

What is Mixed Methods Research?

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For research, it is always advised to use mixed methods research design instead of a standalone quantitative or qualitative study as it can give a more complete picture and the combined benefits of both methods. But, what is mixed methods research, when is it used and how does it benefit researchers? This article answers all your questions.

What is Mixed Methods Research?

Mixed methods research is a research design wherein researchers collect and analyse quantitative and qualitative data within a single study to answer their research question. 

This type of research can help provide a more complete picture than a study that relies solely on quantitative or qualitative research. This is because it allows the researcher to gain a depth and breadth of understanding on a specific concept while offsetting the weaknesses that are inherent when using either approach alone.

When to Use Mixed Methods Research?

Mixed Methods Research1

Let’s look at the different situations in which the use of mixed methods research is ideal and can be leveraged effectively:

  1. When the integration of quantitative and quantitative data can provide a better understanding of the research problem than a standalone approach.
  2. When a researcher wants to view a research question from many perspectives to identify unexpected findings and potential contradictions.
  3. When one method can be used to effectively substantiate the findings of another method.

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What are the different types of Mixed Methods Research Designs

There are many different types of mixed methods. Each can be distinguished with their combination of the following attributes:

  • Aim of Research
  • Timing of Data Collection
  • Importance given to each Data Type

These are a few of the most commonly used mixed methods research designs:

Embedded

In the embedded design, both types of data are collected and analysed at the same time, with the use of a larger quantitative or qualitative design. One data set will provide a supportive secondary role in the study based mainly on the primary data type. This is a useful approach when you want to use mixed methods research but have financial or time constraints that won’t permit it.

Convergent Parallel

Within this research design, the researcher conducts the quantitative and qualitative elements parallelly, in the same phase of the research process. These methods are then weighted equally and analyzed independently before the results are interpreted together.

Exploratory Sequential

This research design involves data collection over a period of time in two consecutive phases. First, qualitative data is collected and analysed, followed by quantitative data. The quantitative results are used to explain the initial qualitative results.

Explanatory Sequential

This research design is the opposite of exploratory research and involves following the quantitative data collection and analysis with qualitative data collection and analysis. The qualitative results are used to substantiate the initial quantitative results.

Explanatory Sequential

This research design is the opposite of exploratory research and involves following the quantitative data collection and analysis with qualitative data collection and analysis. The qualitative results are used to substantiate the initial quantitative results.

Advantages of Mixed Methods Research Design

The following are a few advantages of mixed methods research:

Combines Strengths

By leveraging both, quantitative and qualitative data, in your research, you obtain a more holistic view of the concept in question. You also get to enjoy the strengths of both data types. Your research will be detailed and contextualised, due to the qualitative data, and will also be generalizable and externally valid due to the quantitative data. 

Offsets Weaknesses

The strengths of quantitative data can often mitigate the weaknesses of qualitative data and vice versa. For instance, qualitative data tends to have low external validity as there is potential for biased interpretations. However, quantitative data does not have this weakness and instead has high external validity. Therefore, integrating both methods can offset the weaknesses of both.

Flexibility

Integrating the elements of both methods allows more flexibility when designing your research as mixed methods are not as strictly tied to established research paradigms. This flexibility allows you to synthesize aspects of different studies to curate a research design that can produce the most informative results.

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Disadvantages of Mixed Methods Research Design

The following are a few disadvantages of mixed methods research:

Complex

Although the integration of both data types can yield great results, the research design may be very complex to create and execute. It can also be very labour-intensive as it often requires interdisciplinary teams of researchers.

Expensive

As mentioned in the previous point, mixed methods research can be extremely labour-intensive. For this reason, it often costs significantly more than standalone studies that use just qualitative data or quantitative data.

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Fast Insights
Best-in-class ROI

Voxco’s platform helps you gather omnichannel feedback, measure sentiment, uncover insights and act on them.

Join 500 + global clients across 40+ countries