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Pros and Cons of Mixed Methods Research

4508 words (18 pages) Essay in Psychology

14/07/17 Psychology Reference this

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For every job or task there is a specific tool befitting such work. Similarly, every researcher after having identified the scope of their research needs to apply a particular method of research in order to attain the best results. Interestingly, there are some methods of research that when applied or used together the acquired results will be forthcoming. Hence the concept of mixed methods in research, it refers to application of both quantitative and qualitative techniques in a single study. Currently, the fundamental study techniques which are widely used are quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.

Qualitative study involves evaluation of data, like different interviews, videos, pictures and objects such as artifacts. It is the descriptive data from observation or interviews which are not structured (Taylor, 2009). Quantitative study, on the other hand, is the analytical progression of figurative data from different fields. The disjointing of into quantitative and qualitative is a very common difference; the tendency has been due to the desire to link quantitative methods with a natural science (positivist) and qualitative methods with a social science (interpretivist) (Mingers, 2006).

Nevertheless, the simple distinction has not gone down well with a lot of researchers, many researchers basing their differences on the lack of clarity on the issues of validity and accuracy. According to Yin (2007), the distinction between quantitative and qualitative methods applies to data and not so much into the methodology. Other researchers believe that the underlying paradigms are incompatible. Mixed method is the mixture of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies; it is the third research paradigm after qualitative and quantitative. The argument to use both quantitative and qualitative modes in one study has been based on over theoretical approach to research within the social sciences. (Jones, 2004)

According to Fieldman (2005), in the comparison of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the attributes of the latter have been misidentified. The argument has been premised on the fact that the relationship between positivist paradigm and quantitative research have been blown out of proportion. Glaser and Strauss (2007) believe that the association of qualitative research with grounded theory is an excellent example of such misunderstanding. On the other hand, there has been the use of the exploratory factor analysis in the quantitative research. This has caused a lot of arguments within researchers and hence the outcry for the need to adopt the use of mixed research method. Glaser (2009) has further blurred the idea by stating that the grounded theory emanated from quantitative work and that it is some sort of general methodology for use on both qualitative and quantitative work.

Tashakori and Teddie (2008) believe that the distinction between qualitative and quantitative methods of research is largely artificial. The view that is quite clear is that there is need some sort of paradigm wars over the adoption of the methodologies used in explaining the two methods of research.

Pragmatism plays a pivotal role in the comprehension of mixed method as a research method. (Howe, 2009) The compatibility thesis postulates that both quantitative and qualitative methods are actually compatible, meaning that the two can be used within a single study. Pragmatism on the other hand, was started by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewy promulgated that researchers should apply or use a mixture of approaches that co-ordinate best in a real-life situation. Therefore, what works best in a particular situation should always be used in that scenario regardless of any assumptions that can arise in relation to that particular situation.

Nowadays researchers apply a fundamental principle of mixed research. This fundamental principle requires from the researcher to use a mixture or combination of methods that have some level of complementary pros and cons both of which are overlapping. In order to understand the mixed method research it is imperative to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods.

Qualitative research

Strengths

Qualitative research has a lot of strengths which explain why it is still a favorite option for many researchers to use. Firstly, it focuses the data collected on the participants’ groups of explaining or expounding the particular meaning within the study. Secondly, a lot of researchers have heaped accolades on this method of research owing to its suitability for the study of a minimum number of cases in depth. Thirdly, in as far as describing complex phenomena is concerned; it is the best methodology for the job.

Fourthly, at the point where the researcher needs to explain a particular area of the study by dissecting individual case information, qualitative research method offers a better clarification point than other methods of research. Fifthly, it is excellent in as far as conducting cross-case assessment and analysis is concerned. Sixthly, it provides a better focal point in as far as providing an understanding and description of people’s personal experiences of certain phenomena that happened to them. Seventhly, it can be used to describe a rich and well articulated as it is specifically situated and located within local contexts.

Eighthly, by adopting qualitative method of research the user can study dynamic processes or assist in the documentation of sequential patterns and change. Nine, the researcher can use the qualitative method of grounded theory to inductively produce a tentative but descriptive theory about an occurrence. Ten, it is used to determine how the participants’ of the study interpret self-esteem, I Q and so on. Also, the data collected under this method of research is done so in naturalistic settings. In addition, the approaches adopted within this method of research are especially responsive to the numerous changes that usually occur within a study, mainly if the study requires a lot of extensive fieldwork, and it assists to shift the focus back to the study.

Furthermore, qualitative data in the words and categories of participants’ lend themselves to exploring how and why particular occurrences happen. Also, owing to its variant intrinsic attributes the researcher can use an important case to clearly demonstrate phenomena to the general audience and more particularly the readers of the final report. Finally, qualitative research aids in the determination of idiographic causation or the determination of causes of particular proceedings.

Weaknesses

Sadly despite so many positive highlights, qualitative research also fails in its quest for a perfect research method. To begin with, the information produced from research conducted on the foundation of qualitative methodology might not generalize to other people or other settings. This is because some factors will remain unique from one individual to the next. Secondly, researchers who use this method usually find it difficult to make quantitative predictions. Further, since qualitative research ahs its tenets premised within large pools of participants, it makes it very difficult to test hypotheses and theories generated from the study.

In addition, some commissioners of certain programs and administrators find qualitative research method to have low levels of credibility. Also, compared to its counterpart, quantitative research method, it is more time consuming when it comes to the collection of data. The same scenario applies when it comes to data analysis. Finally, due to its requirements of researcher and personal involvement, the data gathers is mainly plagued with biasness and idiosyncrasies.

Quantitative Research

In line with Denscobe (2007) “the quantitative study is all about the quantifying relationships between variables.” In the social sciences, quantitative study is the systematic empirical study of the quantitative properties and their relationships. Mathematical models, theories and other different hypotheses are employed in the process. The dimension progression is central in the process, as it provides the fundamental connection between the empirical observation and the mathematical expression of all the quantitative relationships.

In the spheres of psychology, anthropology, sociology and political science the quantitative study method is employed regularly. In the sphere of mathematics and physics which are “quantitative” by the definition it is used, but the term is different in the context. In the case of the social sciences, the term is related to direct and empirical methods, and most crucial it deals in both philosophical positivism and arithmetical findings, and in many ways it is a direct contrast with the qualitative study methods. The qualitative techniques produce the data of the particular case studies that are assigned to the study and all other hypotheses are nothing but general conclusions. The techniques can be used to verify in different aspects (Denscobe, 2007).

Strengths

Many researchers find quantitative research methods better in application to their particular studies because it allows them to validate and test already constructed theories about how and why some occurrences happen. Also, it gives the researcher some edge in the actual research because they can test the hypotheses that are constructed before the actual data is collected. Moreover, researchers are in a better position to simplify research findings when the data is founded on arbitrary samples of sufficient mass.

In addition, researchers are better off when they use quantitative methodology because of its ability to allow them to simplify research findings when it has been used and repeated on so many different populations and sub-populations. Unlike qualitative research method the data collected can be used for purposes of quantitative predictions. Also, the researcher, under quantitative format of research, has the ability to construct a situation that eliminates the bewildering sway of many variables, allowing one or more plausibly recognized cause-and-effect relations.

Furthermore, in as far as pace is concerned; data collected under this method of research is a lot faster than qualitative methodology. More so, the data collected is more precise, concise and of course quantitative. As earlier highlighted, analysis of data under this method of research is a lot less time consuming. Unlike qualitative data, this method of research allows the results gathered to be more independent of the researcher and hence they are of statistical significance. Further, in as far as individuals in power are concerned; data gathered under quantitative research method can find favor and liking to such individuals who fund the study programs. Briefly, it is applicable in the study of masses.

Weaknesses

Similarly, quantitative research methodology also falls short in as far as being fully credible in the research world. Mainly, researchers find that the categories they use do not usually reflect local constituencies’ understandings. In addition, the theories propagated by researcher operating under this method of research might not as well reflect the local constituencies’ understandings.

Furthermore, owing to the requirement of a lot of focus on the theory and hypotheses generation, researchers usually miss out on the happening of particular occurrences. Finally, the information gathered under this method of research might be too theoretical and general for direct appliance to particular real-life situations, contexts and individuals.

Mixed Method Research

Qualitative study is a type of scientific research. Generally speaking, in any According to Hesse-Biber (2010), “there is basically an investigation which seeks answer of a specific question.” The examiners systematically use a pre defined set of procedures to find the closest answer of the question. Collecting evidences and more crucially different kinds of data are two very crucial aspect of the research. Finally, a qualitative study aims to produce different findings that were not generally “determined in advance, and also the finding can be applicable beyond the immediate boundaries of the study” (Hesse-Biber, 2010).

In addition to all these the qualitative study techniques tries to understand a given study problem or topic from the perspective of the general population with whom the study is mainly involved. The qualitative study method is very effective in obtaining the specific cultural data about the “values, opinions, behaviors and other different social contexts” (Hesse-Biber, 2010) of a specific population. Creswell (2009) indicated that when the results of qualitative study are combined with quantitative techniques it helps to interpret and better understand the complex reality of any given situation, along with the implications of quantitative data (Creswell, 2009).

The findings from the qualitative study can often be extended to people with characteristics which are quite similar to those in the study population, which gains a rich and complex understanding of a specific social context or phenomenon, which typically takes precedence over eliciting data that can be really generalized to other geographical areas. In that light it is clear that qualitative study is slightly different from the scientific study progression in general (Nachmias-Frankfort & Nachmias 2008).

Strengths

The third and more preferred method of research has an array of strengths that appeal to many researchers. To begin with, the combined strengths of both quantitative and qualitative research can be found when using this method of research. Further, terms, pictures and narratives can be used to add connotation to numbers. In addition, while using mixed methods of research, researchers have the advantage of using numbers to add precision to words, pictures, and narratives. Another advantage of applying the mixed method in research is that researchers can generate and actually test a grounded theory.

Applying the mixed method of research allows the researcher to tackle a broader and a more complete range of research questions owing to the fact that the researcher is not confined within the tenets of a particular method of research. In addition, researchers have the ability to use the strength of one method of research to counter or overcome the weaknesses in another method. In other words it incorporates the concept of complementarity.

In the advent of a researcher conjuring up a conclusion under this method of research, they are in a better position to provide stronger evidence in the conclusion bit through convergence and collaboration of findings. Furthermore, the method of research allows the researcher to add insights and methods that might be omitted when only a single method is adopted. Similarly, the method allows the researcher to simplify to increase the simplicity of the results. Finally, since the mixed methods of research is all about the incorporation of both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, the researcher can produce more complete knowledge necessary to inform theory and practice.

Weaknesses

Unfortunately, this method of research also has a few shortcomings despite its overwhelming support from researchers. Firstly, owing to its duplicity content, the application of the mixed methodology in one study can prove difficult to handle by any one single researcher. This is the case especially when the researcher has two apply two or more approaches concurrently.

Furthermore, a researcher choosing to rely on this method of research has to learn about multiple methods and approaches and understand how to appropriately mix them. Similarly, a lot of researchers are of the view that any one researcher should work within either the qualitative or the quantitative method. Moreover, the mixed method of research is more expensive and time consuming than any other method of research due to its duplicity content. Finally, since it is a mixture of two relatively different methods of research, a lot of researchers and methodologists have as yet to fully workout problems of interpreting conflicting results, quantitative data and the paradigm mixing.

Justification of combining qualitative and quantitative methods

The paradigm war of the two methods of research has created so much chaos. On each side of the argument are proponents of one particular type of research method, well armed with reason and examples why it is better than the other research method. Such arguments caused the creation of some sort of middle ground, combining the two types of research methods, the result, mixed methods research.

So what is the justification for amalgamating the two types of research methods? The rationale for the creation of a common ground was concretized and coded. The coding mirrored each side’s legitimate views and by so doing the weakness of each side was revealed. A scheme was created to tabulate the justifications for the need to join the two methods of research.

First, triangulation: which promulgated that there was need for some sort of convergence or corroboration since by so doing the emphasis would be shifted from the differences and moved towards the amalgamation of the research methodologies. Secondly, complementarity: which seeks the elaboration or the results acquired from one method with the results of another method. Thirdly, development: which highlights the need to use the results acquired from one method to either inform or develop the contrasting method. Fourthly, initiation: it seeks the unearthing of irony and incongruity, the remolding of questions from results gotten from one method with the replica of the other method of research. Fifthly, expansion: This seeks to increase the span and variety of enquiry by adopting different methods for different inquiry components. (Niglas, 2004)

Design within the mixed methods

Researchers usually face a daunting task while constructing a model design that will be suitable for their study. Nevertheless, it is imperative to point out that model designs do not exhaust the rationale of possibilities. (Creswell, 2003) However, their requirement and classification append to the thoroughness of mixed methods designs in primary care research.

Instrument Design Model

Under this design the priority is given to quantitative data collection and analysis. Implementation is premised in a two-phase project that starts with qualitative data collection and analysis and proceeds to quantitative device design and testing. Incorporation happens at the data analysis phase, then after researchers dissect the qualitative data and use this information to develop a device for information collection.

The main use for this model is to come up with a device that is embedded in the views of the participants, instead of using an instrument that might not actually reflect the opinions of the participants. The approach used makes the use of the instrument design model logical and easier to carry out. Nevertheless, a lot of expertise is required to not only code the qualitative data but to also analyze it. In addition a psychometrically sound instrument is ultimately developed. (Kutner et al, 2008)

Triangulation Design Model

This particular type of design model is used mainly in primary care research. However, it is more difficult to incorporate compared to the sequential instrument design model due to the need to not only reconcile but to also bring back quantitative and qualitative information. The core use of this type of design model is to triangulate or rather bring both qualitative and quantitative methodologies simultaneously, and to incorporate the two paradigms of research in order to best comprehend the research situation at hand (Tashakori A. & Teddie C., 2008).

Concisely, this particular type of design model creates an equal platform for both qualitative and quantitative methods of research, both of which in other formats of research are usually found in separate columns which may or may not be set on equal footing. Furthermore, the triangulation design model usually integrates the information gathered from both the qualitative and quantitative methodologies into one final comprehensive and all-inclusive report. It is important to note that the same can either be summarized one conclusion, interpretation or results phase.

The triangulation design model is structured in a manner that accommodates both qualitative and quantitative data albeit in different sections. The same format will apply for the analysis results for the two methodologies. This is then followed by an in-depth discussion of both data results which is summarized under neo conclusion heading. It is no wonder that he researchers adopting this type of design model present both results under different methodologies as conflicting evidence for results. Alternatively, the researchers can also convert one form of data under a particular methodology into another form in an attempt to conglomerate the results gathered. (Baskerville et al, 2007 and McVea et al, 2009)

Data Transformation Design Model

This type of design model is specifically preferred by the primary care researcher since it incorporates co-relational designs. Observational designs that are usually found under this type of design model are studies on retrospect, prevalence and prospective matters. It is imperative to note that this type of design model usually favors qualitative data over quantitative data. It allows the investigator collect qualitative information; dissect in attempts to understand codes and themes underlining it. All this is done in line with a predetermined code book or conceptual outline. In addition, the codes and themes there under are counted numerically.

The foregoing notwithstanding, the design model can be formatted to also favor quantitative data compilation and analysis. The incorporation of the results is concurrent and the assimilation of the same happens at the data analysis phase. (Mcllvain, 2008).

The above three models of design bring about the possibility of having mixed methods models within the framework of primary care. Moreover, it is important to highlight the fact that the three models do not in any way exhaust all the model designs available. Others not dealt with are the explanatory design model and the nested design model. In the former a pioneer quantitative stage is conducted in order to gather empirical or statistical results. (Creswell, 2006) The second stage is for the researcher to collect qualitative information that he will use to expound or explain the quantitative results. (Tashakori A. & Teddie C., 2008).

The nested design model is different from the explanatory method in that, a lesser qualitative information gathering phase is assimilated or contained within a larger quantitative interference trial. In as much as this type of model matches the criteria for a synchronized and quantitative design, it still represents to some extent, a disparity in which the bigger component addresses one issue and for the lesser components another issue.

Using a mixed models method, which is inculcated into a rigorous design structure, makes one assume that the research has all the proper know how required in understanding a particular study. Such expertise is important when conducting research on a certain study. Further, it assists the researcher in knowing which design will best suit the study. Using mixed methods research is not only time consuming but also it is very tasking on the individual conducting the research. This is the case because mixed methods apply multiple variants in its data format and collection. (Goering PN, 2007)

Grounded theory

Sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967) have comprehensively articulated the grounded theory on the background of social science. The main purpose of grounded theory is to come with theories about social phenomena, meaning, to develop some level of comprehending which is more grounded in systematic data. The grounded theory is the most all-inclusive qualitative research methodology available. Grounded is viewed by many researchers and methodologists as a problem-solving endeavor concerned with understanding action from the perspective of the human agent. It is an approach to applying qualitative research, in that its procedures are neither numerical, nor quantitative in some other manner. It initiates its progress by targeting a particular area of study and collects information from numerous sources, for instance personal interviews and field observations.

Grounded theory is more suitable when one is dealing with social interact s or experiences which are driven to explain a process. After collection of the needed data, the same is analyzed using coding hypothetical sampling measures. Then after theories are borne from the results garnered and interpretive procedures, having concluded that part everything is concretized and presented. Glaser and Strauss view grounded theory as a general theory of scientific method concerned with the generation, elaboration, and eventual validation of social science supposition. They further believe that grounded theory should meet the accepted canons for doing good science. However, the main reason for applying grounded theory in ones research is to construct theories in order to understand occurrences.

The key features of this theory are that it must have an iterative study format, purposive sampling and a scheme analysis. An iterative study design encompasses cycles of simultaneous information collection and analysis. A good grounded theory must meet the following conditions; it must be inductively derived from data, subjected to hypothetical amplification and judged sufficient to its area with bearing in mind a number of evaluative criteria. (Kennedy, 2006)

Purposive approach

Under this approach which is extremely favorable in the docket of quantitative research. The issues or topics for research are chosen based on similar characteristics that they portray. The method it uses is quite simple, when taking a part of the sample, reject or ignore the participants who do not fit the required profile for the study. This approach usually starts with a rationale in mind, the sample is designed to include the people who fit the criteria of the research and exclude those participants who fail to achieve this target.

This method is popular with researchers who use quantitative methodology because it offers results that are more concise and precise. However, since it is subject to non-probability it is susceptible to partiality and inaccuracy. For instance, marketing investigators adopt this line of approach when they are in quest of support for their new product. They will obviously start with persons in the streets, first approaching only likely suspects and then move on onto excluding individuals who do not match their particular criteria.

Conclusion

This paper has highlighted and dissected the tenets that determine the realm of the research domain. Initially, there used to be only two methods of research, namely qualitative method and quantitative method. However, over time, the proponents of either side so the need to combine the two in an attempt to strengthen each other’s weaknesses. The result was the mixed methods research. The latter is a research design encompassing a method and a methodology.

As a methodology, it entails collecting, analyzing and amalgamating quantitative and qualitative methods from the initial to the conclusion stages of both. As a method, it deals with the collection, analyzing and joining qualitative and quantitative information into one study. This mode of research methodology highlights and encourages the gathering of more in-depth evidence for research problems. Furthermore, it assists in the answering of questions that could not previously be answered under either qualitative or quantitative methods. In addition, it does away with any form of adversarial relationships that previously existed between the two modes of research.

Mixed methods approach is more favorable because it aids in multiple world views, besides, many researchers have deemed it more practical and easier to apply in research. Moreover, it is applicable to the research situations of today seeing that they are more complex and intricate. Its practical nature assists in exemplifying issues to larger audiences. It has grown through a number of phases: a formative stage, a paradigm contest, the procedural phase and the evolving interest in federal endowment, journals, disciplines, and unique workshops.

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