The essential goal of mixed methods research is to tackle a given research question from any relevant angle, making use where appropriate of previous research and/or more than one type of investigative perspective.
Sometimes referred to as mixed methodology, multiple methodology or multi-methodology research, mixed methods research offers you the best of both worlds: the in-depth, contextualized, and natural but more time-consuming insights of qualitative research coupled with the more-efficient but less rich or compelling predictive power of quantitative research.
These approaches are far more comprehensive than attacking a problem from only one point of view and, with the emergence of strategies and tools for blending these different types of data, allow for the crossing of disciplinary boundaries like never before.
Although a relatively new approach, mixed methods research has been embraced by the scientific community in their practice, academic journals, and major volumes of work like the Sage Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research by Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddlie. As Cornell psychologist William Trochim puts it:
“…[any] kind of polarized debate has become less than productive. And, it obscures the fact that qualitative and quantitative data are intimately related to each other. All quantitative data is based on qualitative judgments; and all qualitative data can be described and manipulated numerically.”
Who can use mixed methods research?
Anyone who wants or needs to tackle a research challenge from two or more perspectives (by deliberate choice or out of practical necessity) will benefit from a mixed methods approach. Mixed methods research has been employed with real success in every people-focused discipline, from psychology and sociology to education and health care to human resources and marketing.
How do you actually do mixed methods research?
Although mixed methods research can be conducted manually, given the complexity of a typical research project, it is generally far better to rely on a mixed methods software application like Dedoose — designed specifically for mixed methods work, but equally effective as qualitative research software. The essential steps to doing great mixed methods research follow the scientific method:
For simple examples, visit our What is Qualitative Research blog post.
How can Dedoose help you with your mixed methods research project?
Dedoose mixed methods research software is the only application designed from the get-go to do true mixed methods research. Simply put, you can work with data from virtually any source – from text, audio and video files to Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and Access databases to Survey Monkey and other internet apps – on virtually any platform – from Windows, Mac OS and Linux to iOS and Android – to analyze and report on virtually any people-related research challenge. Dedoose is remarkably easy to learn, truly seamless to collaborate with and astonishingly inexpensive to operate for individuals or collaborative research teams. Interactive data visualizations draw both on the excerpting and coding techniques of qualitative research data and on their relations to survey, demographic, and test data collected from the same research participants. And making use of the code weight/rating system adds an entirely new dimension to your project data. Basically, all Dedoose analytics are designed to support efficient exploration of patterns in the data, quickly drill down to understand the underlying richness, and then export your findings for immediate use in presentations, manuscripts, and reports.
Dedoose’s creators, Drs. Eli Lieber and Tom Weisner, are both internationally recognized experts in the theoretical and practical applications of mixed methods research, so you know that Dedoose really is “for researchers, by researchers”.