Mixed Methods Research


Mixed methods research (MMR) combines at least one qualitative and one quantitative research component within a single study or a series of studies. After embedding MMR in the history of social science methodology and epistemology, this entry reviews the current state of research concerning key decisions researchers have to make in mixed methods studies: (1) When choosing a research design, scholars have to decide upon the purposes of mixed methods. (2) When deciding which data to mix in which way, it is not only essential if data are qualitative or quantitative but also if data are verbal or visual as well research-elicited or process-produced. Researchers have to consider how data are compatible and can be combined along all these dimensions. (3) Mixed methods sampling procedures allow for resolving several trade-offs between qualitative and quantitative research, namely if generalization should be based on probability theory or social theory and if a large sample allowing for better generalizations or a smaller sample allowing for in-depth analysis is preferable. However, it is yet unresolved how to reconcile linear with iterative sampling strategies and how to properly define populations, contexts, and fields. (4) Qualitative and quantitative data analysis strategies cannot only complement each other but also provide new insights, if they are integrated. (5) When assessing research quality, MMR not only has to meet the criteria of single methods research but also needs specific quality criteria for MMR itself—how these should look like, is still being intensively discussed.

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