Per Creswell and Plano Clark (2018), mixed methods research is the process of collecting and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data is subjective and is usually obtained from open-ended questions, thereby allowing the “voice” of the participants to be heard and interpreted through the use of surveys, interviews, and/or observations. Quantitative data is generally closed-end information that undergoes statistical analysis and results in a numerical representation or percentage.
There are several examples of how mixed methods research can be conducted. For example, the researcher may use a quantitative data instrument to collect data. The researcher may then obtain qualitative data by interviewing a group of the participants to learn more detailed information about some of the survey responses, which will provide him or her with a more thorough understanding of the results. Secondly, a researcher may conduct interviews using open-ended questions to explore how individuals describe or feel about a particular topic; which will give him or her qualitative data and then use that information to develop a more useful quantitative survey. Furthermore, a researcher may plan on using quantitative methods to assess the impact of a particular plan, intervention, or course of action. Finally, a researcher may make use of focus groups to collect qualitative information regarding a particular topic and then employ a quantitative survey with a larger group to justify or explain the responses of the focus group.
Strengths of Mixed Methods Research:
Creswell and Plano Clark (2018) are of the opinion that there are particular strengths to mixed methods research because both quantitative and qualitative research have their own intrinsic weaknesses. Qualitative research does not necessarily impart statistical analysis and generalization it may include biases based upon interviewee responses. Quantitative research can be regarded as being weak regarding the understanding of the context or setting in which the data was collected. Due to the fact that mixed method strategies allows for both exploration and analysis within the same study, it can offset the inherent weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative research.
Mixed methods research allows the researcher the luxury to use all the tools available to him or her and collect data that is far more comprehensive and it provides results that have a broader outlook regarding the overall issue or research problem. Additionally, final results may include both observations and statistical analyses which allows for the results to be validated within the study which provides additional evidence and support for the findings. Furthermore, mixed methods combines inductive and deductive thinking and reasoning and it allows the researcher to use both words and numbers to communicate the findings and as a result, it will appeal to and be appreciated by a wider audience.
Weaknesses of Mixed Methods Research:
However, despite all of its pros, mixed methods research does have its fair share of cons and because of such, many a researcher may find himself or herself leery of undertaking such a challenging process (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2018). To begin with, mixed methods research is a far more laborious and time-consuming activity due to the need of the researcher to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Another cited weakness of mixed methods research is the reality that the study undertaken by the researcher may require a vast number of resources to collect both types of data, a fact that may be overwhelming for a single person. Furthermore, the research procedures associated with mixed methods research can be exceedingly complicated and as a result may beyond the researcher’s comfort zone because most investigators are often trained solely in quantitative or qualitative methods and therefore he or she may need assistance from others in both the research and the interpretation of the acquired data. Finally, the methodology associated with mixed methods research requires a style of presentation that is crystal clear when it is published or when it is presented. This is vital to the researcher because such clarity is paramount so that the intended audience can effortlessly read or listen to the presentation and thoroughly understand both the procedures used and the findings of the study.