Mixed Methods Research - From paradigm to practice

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Poul Sylvan Lund
4. term, Applied Philosophy, Master (Master Programme)
Introduction and Aims: The usage of both qualitative and quantitative methods within a single study, is what constitutes mixed methods research. Mixed methods have the potential to offer unique perspectives on a variety of topics, by using complex designs with ample opportunity to increase breadth and/or depth of the research. However, the complex implementation of multiple methods across the qualitative/quantitative spectrum can be challenging in practice. On top of this there are multiple theoretical problems associated with the methods, mainly with regards to how one can reasonable support the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods within a single set of philosophical assumptions. This study aims to analyse whether specifically pragmatism and critical realism individually can be the underlying paradigm, supporting mixed methods. Continuing this, the study also aims to bring insight into the practical usage of mixed methods and what role the underlying paradigms play in this.

Methods: To gain the necessary insight, the study employs several methods, in the pursuit of several aspects of the aforementioned aims. Argument focused document analysis is used to gain understanding of both pragmatism and critical realism. The focus being the arguments for and against the ability of these paradigms to support mixed methods research, and the results coming in the form of a complex assess-ments of the given paradigms strengths and limits in regard to the use of mixed methods.
Digital sampling and comparative analysis is employed to gain insight into the field of mixed methods re-search at a publicity level. By collecting data from Scopus about the researchers posting in Journal of Mixed Methods Research, one can start to understand what constitutes a typical researcher applying mixed methods in their studies. The data collected included, sex, nationality and what subjects the researchers have been studying. Through comparative analysis with data regarding similar subjects it is possible to interpret and suggest tendencies.
This study also includes a case study of two studies employing mixed methods. The goal of the selection of the cases was to gain as much information as possible about a successful usage of mixed methods in the research fields already deemed most relevant by the digital sampling and following comparative analysis. The analysis paid special attention to the harmony between the different parts of the studies, including aims, paradigms, designs, methods and type of conclusions. The objective being to gain insight into for example how the paradigm informs the selection of design and how design in turn affects the type of conclusion the study will yield.

Results and conclusion: So-called pure mixed was identified as the most theoretically challenging form of mixed methods to support. Through document analysis it was found that both pragmatism and critical realism can support some forms of pure mixed. Though it was also found, that both paradigms were unsuited for supporting some types of mixed methods research designs. Specifically pragmatism is not suitable for research with the intent to understand, while it was well suited for the intent to explain. Critical realism on the other hand cannot support the employed designs, in which the researcher intends to compare qualitative and quantitative data.
The results of the use of digital sampling and comparative analysis, showed researchers split evenly gender wise. It also showed how the most represented subjects of the researchers were related to social sciences, decisions sciences and health as a broad term.
The case study showed the importance of specificity, as well as understanding of the employed paradigm, and how when these requirements are met, mixed methods can not only theoretically but also practically produce research, that can meet the potential formerly mentioned.
Publication date2 Jan 2018
Number of pages64
ID: 266896801