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For research, it is always advised to use a mixed methods research design instead of a standalone quantitative or qualitative study as it can give a 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 analyze quantitative and qualitative data within a single study to answer their research question.

This type of research can help provide a more holistic picture than a study that relies solely on quantitative or qualitative research. It allows the researcher to gain a depth and breadth of understanding of a specific concept while offsetting the weaknesses inherent in either approach alone.

A mixed method research approach emphasises on using whichever data collection method is the most appropriate for validating the research question, whether it its qualitative, quantitative, or a miz of both

Components of Mixed Method Research

Mixed method research acknowledges the importance of context, nuances, and perspectives. There are three components of this research approach. 

01. Quantitative methods: 

This method includes gather numerical data and analyzing it using statistical methods to answer the research question. The data collection methods can include online surveys, IVR surveys, offline surveys. This data collection method empowers you with statistical data allowing you to generalize the findings with a larger target population. 

Voxco offers three modes of survey data collection for quantitative research: 

→ Voxco online survey tools

→ Voxco CATI

→ Voxco mobile-offline survey tools

02. Qualitative research methods: 

This data collection method focuses on gather textual data to explore the underlying meanings, trends, patterns, and experiences of participants. Qualitative method may include surveys, focus groups, observations, and interviews. The research method helps gather rich and in-depth insights into complex experience and perspectives. 

Voxco enables you to analyze qualitative data by leveraging the NPS dashboard and text and sentiment analysis. 

03. Integrated methods: 

A combination of quantitative and qualitative data within a single study is an integrated method or as we introduce it, a mixed method research. This integration can occur at any stage of the research process, such as data collection, analysis, and interpretation. 

The focus of an integrated research method is to gather insights from different methods and compare the findings to validate or complement each theory. 

Read how Voxco helped Walmart improve their Grocery PickUp service and increase product variety from 3k to 7k.

When to Use Mixed Methods Research?

Mixed Methods Research Metadata management
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 substantiate the findings of another method effectively.

Applications of mixed method research:

Let’s look into some applications of this research approach in real-world experience. 

01. Healthcare research: 

In the healthcare sector, you can leverage this approach to investigate patient expeirence, healthcare delivery models, and the effectiveness of interventions. For example, you can use it to gather quantitative data on patient health outcomes while gathering qualitative data on patient satisfactions with particular treatment. 

02. Market research: 

In business or retail market research, mixed methods research can help you explore consumer preferences, market dynamics, potential markets, and more. For example, a market research team may utilize quantitative data collection to test the likelihood of recommending a new product and qualitative data collection to gather the reason behind the data. 

What are the different types of Mixed Methods Research Designs

There are many different types of mixed methods. Their combination of the following attributes can distinguish each:
Aim of research
Timing of data collection
The importance given to each data type
These are a few of the most commonly used mixed-methods research designs:

01. Embedded

In the embedded design, both types of data are collected and analyzed simultaneously using 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.02. 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.

03. Exploratory Sequential

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

04. Explanatory Sequential

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

05. Explanatory Sequential

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

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Advantages of Mixed Methods Research Design

The following are a few advantages of mixed methods research:

01. 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. The qualitative data will make your research detailed and contextualized, while the quantitative data will make it generalizable and externally valid. 

02. Complementary: 

In a mixed method approach, quantitative and qualitative study complement each other. The approach helps gather various insights and different perspectives on same phenomena enriching your understanding of the topic. 

03. 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.

04. 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 their weaknesses.

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Disadvantages of Mixed Methods Research Design

The following are a few disadvantages of mixed methods research:

01. 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.

02. Integration challenges: 

For some researchers, it can be challenging to combine the two research methods at different stages of the research process. It requires careful planning of how different components of each process will fit together. 

03. Expensive

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

Conclusion

The mixed method is a versatile and valuable approach to exploring various fields. By integrating quantitative and qualitative methods, you can design a robust framework across different domains. 

This approach offers a path to a deeper understanding of the research topic, acknowledging the richness and complexity of human experiences. By embracing its principles and practices you can gain a comprehensive insight on the research subject, drive positive changes, and address pressing challenges on time. 

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