In 2016, Research Design Review included two articles pertaining to mixed methods research (MMR), each highlighting the advantages of an approach that incorporates both quantitative and qualitative methods. The first of these articles – “Life Is Meaningful, Or Is It?: The Road To Meaning In Survey Data” – appeared in February and discusses the idea that not all research questions – such as “the meaning of life” and other personal, sensitive, or complicated issues – are appropriately investigated by quantitative methods alone. The other article – “Qualitative Analysis: The Biggest Obstacle to Enriching Survey Outcomes” – was published in March and deals with how the complexity and “messiness” of qualitative data analysis hampers “the wider use and acceptance of qualitative research among survey researchers,” and includes four suggestions towards fostering ways researchers may become more comfortable with qualitative and “more inclusive” in their methodology.
Because of the increasingly important role that qualitative and quantitative research play together in achieving credible and useful outcomes, Research Design Review will address MMR to a greater extent in 2017 (and beyond) than it has in the past. For instance, one topic that is of utmost interest and import has to do with developing MMR studies and, specifically, the structure prescribed to mixed methods design by various typologies espoused by Creswell & Plano Clark (2011), Hanson, et al. (2005), Leech & Onwuegbuzie (2007), and others. While these typologies serve the worthwhile purpose of helping to organize and thereby facilitate the doing of MMR, the how-to structure of these design schemes potentially binds the researcher within these design parameters while stifling a more broad-minded approach that thinks outside a typology, focusing instead on the optimal design to answer the research question(s). Sharlene Hesse-Biber (2015) calls this the “’thing-ness’ problem,” meaning that the “formalized practice” of MMR has moved it “toward a more bounded concept” (p. 776) that has objectified mixed methods as a concrete “thing.”
This and other issues pertaining to MMR – along with other approaches and a host of research design considerations across qualitative and quantitative methods – will be the subject of future articles in Research Design Review.
Creswell, J. W., & Plano Clark, V. L. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Hanson, W. E., Creswell, J. W., Clark, V. L. P., Petska, K. S., & Creswell, J. D. (2005). Mixed methods research designs in counseling psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 224–235.
Hesse-Biber, S. (2015). Mixed methods research: The “thing-ness” problem. Qualitative Health Research, 25(6), 775–788.
Leech, N. L., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2007). A typology of mixed methods research designs. Quality & Quantity, 43(2), 265–275.
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This should indeed be a very interesting topic and issue to discuss and reflect on. In two of my papers (listed below), I’ve proposed a classification of MMR including: “eclectic”, “principled”, and “innovative”. My argument in these two papers is that there studies which just combine quan and qual methods without necessarily being mixed-methods, that is, they do not build on the MMR literature. On the other hand, there are principled MMR studies which abide to design structures as objectified by MMR scholars. These studies are usually bound to the design prescriptions. The third category, innovative, includes those MMR studies which give priority to the “conceptualisation” of the research problem rather than the design structure. These studies usually lead to innovative use of quan and qual methods. I’d be happy to contribute to this discussion when further posts are released.
Riazi, A.M. (2016). Innovative Mixed-methods Research (IMMR): Moving beyond design technicalities to epistemological and methodological realisations. Applied Linguistics, 37(1), 33-49.
Riazi, A.M., & Candlin, C.N. (2014). Mixed-methods research in language teaching and learning: Opportunities, issues and challenges. Language Teaching, 47, 135-173.
Thank you, Mehdi, for this comment. I have downloaded your 2014 piece and look forward to reading it. I also look forward to your further contributions to the MMR discussion.