Research design represent the overall strategy employed in an investigation and defines a succinct and logical plan that tackles conventional research questions through the collection, interpretation, analysis and discussion of data, within a logical framework selected by the researcher. Mixed methods strategy refers to the use of emergent methodology that advances the systematic integration of quantitative and qualitative data within a single investigation or inquiry, and an ideal technique to assess complex interventions where evaluators can choose from the different mixed methods designs depending on the research questions they want to answer and resources available for the evaluation. Tashakkori and Creswell (2007) argued that a research design encompasses more than simply combining qualitative and quantitative methods but, rather a third method that further describes the conceptual space between philosophical system recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified and emphasizes on qualitative analysis over quantitative analysis. It is against this background that this paper will examine a type of research method now commonly applied in the process of research known as the “Mixed Methods Research”; this is aimed at providing a clear understanding on the research method as well as espousing the necessities for its utilization in research.
The concept “Mixed Methods” relates to an evolving procedure in research that promotes the logical combination or “mixing” of quantitative and qualitative data within one research endeavor or process of investigation. The major standpoint of this procedure is that such combination allows for more integration and complete use of data rather than utilizing the methods individually for data analysis. The evaluation of international business management offers an opportunity for the application of mixed method strategy to impart knowledge and add to learning about the field of study (Creswell, 2012).
Mixed methods research evolved from the Social Sciences, but has recently been adopted in research investigations in the health and medical sciences, including fields such as Nursing, Family medicine, Mental health, Social Work, Pharmacy, etc. and has also expanded into the fields of Management Sciences as well. In the last ten years, its processes have been advanced and sophisticated to be compatible with various forms of research questions (Creswell & Plano, 2011). The procedures that have been advanced or transformed include These procedures include evolving thoroughness, providing another option mixed methods designs, identifying a precise coding style for recounting the strategies to improve interrelation through different fields, giving clear procedures diagrammatically, stating research questions that can specifically profit from mixing, and developing validations for carrying out different forms of mixed methods research.
In their analysis, Creswell and Plano (2011) traced the historical development of the mixed method research to the mid and late 1980s. Research specialists and authors around the world and at different times appeared at a time to be working on related thoughts as it relates to the mixture of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Although up to this time, many qualitative and quantitative researchers did not see the acceptability in the utilization of the other method to conducting research studies. However, researchers of both approaches began to appreciate on a higher scale the need of the other method. For instance, quantitative researchers started to realize that using qualitative data during quantitative could prove beneficial in the research process generally; and similarly, qualitative researchers also started to realize that, it will be limiting to report research findings only on qualitative data as this would not allow for generalization to many other individuals and groups (Creswell & Plano, 2011). In the last ten years or a little more, attention in the adoption of mixed methods research in conducting research studies in educational topics and other phenomenon has grown significantly and considerably.
The major feature/characteristics of a well-designed mixed method research include but not limited to the following:
- Gathering and evaluating convincingly and thoroughly mutually qualitative and quantitative data based on research aim or questions.
- Combining, mixing or involving both the quantitative and qualitative forms of data probably concurrently or sequentially by using one to build the other or by incorporating one within the other.
- Prioritizing one of the forms of data or both forms of data (qualitative and quantitative) and this is again dependent on the research questions and the foci of the research.
- Another core characteristic of the mixed method research is using the method in one research study or in numerous stages of a process of research study.
- Outlining these processes in logical perspectives and theoretical views
- Integrating the Combining the processes into explicit study strategies that outline the design for carrying out the research
The methods of data collection in a mixed method constitute a blend of the operation of the individual component of the method (qualitative and quantitative) using rigorous procedures in collecting and analyzing the data from each method’s traditional practice (Creswell, 2012); ensuring appropriate sample size and other characteristics of target group. The methods of data collection are: Documents and records, Focus groups, In-depth Interviews, Observations, Verbal histories and Questionnaires and surveys.
The appropriate research design suitable for the mixed method research includes:
Step 1: Determine if a mixed method is suitable
Step 2: Identify a rational for mixed method study
Step 3: Identify the data collection strategy and type of design
Step 4: Develop a qualitative, quantitative and mixed method questions
Step 5: Collect qualitative and quantitative data
Step 6: Analyze data separately or concurrently
Step 7: Write the report as a one- or two-phase study
Mixed method research on its own has generated various arguments on what constitute its purpose, as well as discussions on the output level of mixed method research. In this regard, Greene (2007) identified these five factors as influencing factors for adopting mixed method research:
- Applying triangulation requires merging, validation, and communication of results from varying methods
- Combination seeks expansion, improvement, design, explanation of the results of one method from the other
- The expansion aims to help the use of the results from one method to develop or improve the other, especially when expansion includes sampling and execution and even decisions of measurement
- Commencement seeks the detection of inconsistency and flaws, new viewpoints of contexts, the modifying of research questions or outcomes from one method with the questions from the other
- Development tries to spread the extent and variety of survey by utilizing various methods of diverse survey mechanisms.
Creswell, J. Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4thed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education; 2012.
Creswell, J.W., & Plano, C.V.L. Designing and conducting mixed methods research. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 2011.
Greene JC. Mixed methods in social inquiry. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 2007.
Tashkorri, A & Creswell, J.W. “The new era of mixed methods”. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1; 2007
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