Have you chosen the topic for your research but it is little known about the object of your study? Then, use the mixed methods research. That is the best way to conduct high-quality research covering all possible ways to investigate the subject. Take into account that using this kind of methodology can provide you with a large number of advantages. However, like any other thing, it may have certain limitations. That's why you are recommended to check the mixed research methods peculiarities before you get started.
What is Mixed Methods Research: A Clear Picture of It
Is this the first time you have faced a need to use the type of research, which covers different methods? First, you should assure that you have a clear understanding of what it is. Even if you have never heard the term “mixed methods” before, you can easily guess that this is a type of methodology that is aimed at applying a so-called mix of methods.
This method is frequently given preference to when there is a need to investigate the problem from various angles or when there is not much information on the topic. To cut a long story short, the mixed methods research definition may sound like the interaction of the qualitative and quantitative data. To use the discussed methods research successfully, you should make sure that you understand their distinctive features.
Why Use Mixed Methods: Situations It Suits Best
There are different types of methods. What to be guided with when selecting the ideal one? What is the crucial factor the choice should depend on? Everything depends on the situation. It is not a random choice to your liking. Ask yourself whether the chosen study method can provide you with a better understanding of the subject. Do you need to deal with the tasks of the broad spectrum? Then, it is a good idea to prefer an interaction of data analysis. If to be more exact, quantitative data and qualitative data.
Check their main features/peculiarities:
- Quantitative data: This type includes the descriptive studies aimed at strict standardization/formalization of the process of gathering and processing information that enables to obtain accurate data about the audience being studied, expressed in absolute or relative terms. Polling techniques play the key role. But there are a number of other methods, such as hall tests and home tests, which are included in the options of experiments. The representatives of the target audience are given the tested product with a particular diary questionnaire, and it is necessary to reflect the periodicity of the product use, features of consumption, giving its assessment.
It allows making decisions about the quality correction, repositioning, or changing the purpose of the product. Thus, quantitative methods include mass surveys (questionnaires, including e-mail, personalized formal and telephone interviews), observations, experiments, testing, registration, etc. The main advantage is the ability to compare data with formalized tools using statistical analysis. By the results of applying these methods, various parameters and elements can be compared between themselves which helps to take appropriate decisions.
- Qualitative data: Qualitative research is non-formal data collection using field methods and a non-standardized form of analysis, enabling detailed information on the target audience psychology, its values, world outlook, in-depth motivations of behavior, as well as data that respondents cannot or do not want to provide to the researcher.
Qualitative methods for collecting information are divided into two groups:
- direct or unclassified, which include focus groups and in-depth interviews;
- indirect or classified, which are divided into focus groups, in-depth interviews and projective methods (associative, completion of the situation, constructive situation, expressive methods.
The direct (unclassified) methods give information to respondents about conducting research with their participation (sometimes, with the achievement of goals and objectives).
These include traditional focus groups and in-depth interviews. The difference between them is that the focus groups are conducted with a selection of respondents, i.e., group discussion method (7-12 people) is used, depth interviews — basically individual, maximum two people (for example, when discussing the purchase of goods for the general-purpose appointment where a husband and wife participate).
Advantages of Mixed Methods Research Can You Enjoy
The problem of the correlation between qualitative and quantitative methods today is quite acute. The discussions on this subject are set by the supporters of both approaches. Indeed, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Let's start with the benefits of mixed methods research. So, quantitative methods give a reliable, statistically verified result. The quality of work of the researcher in such methods can be easily verified, the research is repeated with obtaining (subject to its qualitative execution) the same result.
The virtue of qualitative methods is that they allow you to understand what is difficult to isolate and compute with the help of quantitative methods since they allow you to penetrate the essence of phenomena. They provide you with the opportunity to use the sharpest and most effective tool of knowledge — our mind. That is really the case since a person is endowed with the ability not only to process information but to think creatively.
Disadvantages and Limitations of Mixed Research
Disadvantages and limitations refer to the impossibility of conducting the profound analysis of those phenomena of the social and internal psychological life of a person, which cannot be clearly structured. The fact is that structured tools limit our cognitive capabilities to those points of the questionnaire or surveillance card that we have been able to provide. If in the surrounding reality, there is something that you did not foresee, most likely it will pass your attention by. Moreover, some things, especially those related to the inner motives of a person, require from the person the deep thoughts, which are the unstructured material for analysis.
In this connection, it is possible to conclude that choosing between quantitative and qualitative methods, and it is necessary to remember your goals and tasks and use them for their intended purpose. In most cases, you can conduct a study combining both qualitative and quantitative methods at different stages: the primary analysis of an object, the clarification of its characteristics, and detailed and in-depth analysis.