How to Design and Conduct Mixed Method Research

by Rebeca Renata

Qualitative research methods provide ways of investigating verbal or written data. These methods are concerned with finding the themes and meanings of a specific topic. In contrast, quantitative research methods are ways of investigating phenomena through numbers. These methods use statistical analysis to discover facts and figures. Mixed methods research combines qualitative and quantitative research methods to create a broader understanding of a specific area. This hybrid approach can be particular helpful when the use of one method has not been sufficient to fully explain or understand a certain phenomenon.

Explain your rationale for combining methods. Consider both the reasons that your study requires a mixed methods design as well as your own personal reasons for conducting the study in this way. Determine whether you have experience with conducting this sort of research and whether you feel it will shift the way experts in your field think about this area of research. Write your hypothesis to reflect the use of mixed methods. Develop a broad research question that encompasses what you hope to investigate. Create sub-questions pertaining to both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the study.

Choose your research design. A mixed methods design has many aspects; organize your research strategies well. You may use a design that has been used to study similar phenomena in the past or create your own design for your study. If you have little experience using mixed methods, a previously used design may be helpful. Decide the order in which you will collect data. For instance, you may collect qualitative data first and allow it to inform your collection of quantitative data, or you may do the opposite. Consider using triangulation as well. In this method qualitative and quantitative data are collected at the same time, producing a more comprehensive data set.

Select your data collection strategies. They will be informed by both your research questions and your design. For instance, determine whether you will collect information from individuals or groups. You may choose to use different collection techniques for each part of the study, such as using surveys for the quantitative portion and interviews for the qualitative portion. Decide on the setting you will use to collect the data. It will depend upon the resources available to you. For instance, if you work at a major university, you may use college students in a classroom setting. If you work at a mental health clinic, you may collect data from clients individually.

Conduct qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Decide to conduct the analysis simultaneously for both qualitative and quantitative data or separately. Clean and organize data as you would for any other research study. Combine both types of data into one data set and draw conclusions about the results of your study.

About the Author

Rebeca Renata has been writing since 2005 and has been published on various websites. She specializes in writing about clinical social work and social services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Connecticut as well as a Master of Social Work from the Smith College School for Social Work.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images