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Why do we need mixed-methods? Should we differentiate integration versus mixed-methods?. Alan Bryman, Management Centre, University of Leicester, UK. . The current situation. Exciting times ‘Paradigm wars’ Epistemological arguments Pragmatism Washing machines and questionnaires!

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why do we need mixed methods should we differentiate integration versus mixed methods

Why do we need mixed-methods?Should we differentiate integrationversus mixed-methods?

Alan Bryman,

Management Centre,

University of Leicester, UK.

the current situation
The current situation
  • Exciting times
  • ‘Paradigm wars’
  • Epistemological arguments
  • Pragmatism
  • Washing machines and questionnaires!
  • Not addressing epistemological issues today
my research on multi strategy research
My Research on Multi-Strategy Research
  • Funded by Economic & Social Research Council – Research Methods Programme
  • 2 main strands today:
    • Traditional content analysis of journal articles using mixed-methods research
    • Interviews with social researchers who’ve used it
research methods
Research methods
  • Wanted to map general characteristics of mixed-methods research – content analysis
  • Wanted perspectives of mixed-methods researchers + contingencies involved – semi-structured interviews
content analysis
Content analysis
  • Searched Social Sciences Citation Index for: quantitative and qualitative; triangulation; multi(-)method; mixed method in titles and abstracts of English language articles
  • 5 disciplines: sociology; social psychology; organizational behaviour; human and cultural geography; media and cultural studies
  • 1994-2003
  • 232 articles
content analysis1
Content analysis
  • Articles foregrounded mixed-methods
  • Emphasis on mixed-methods in terms of data collection and analysis
  • Major focus on rationales for mixed-methods research
classifying forms of mixed methods research
Classifying Forms of Mixed-Methods Research
  • Distinction between rationale and practice
  • Rationale = stated purpose(s) of integrating quantitative and qualitative research
  • Practice = actual use(s) made of integrating quantitative and qualitative research
  • Used both Greene et al. scheme and my own grounded scheme
classifying forms of mixed methods research1
Classifying Forms of Mixed-Methods Research
  • Greene et al. (triangulation; complementarity; development; initiation; expansion)
  • Parsimonious but only 2 rationales coded (primary & secondary)
  • Developed alternative scheme
alternative scheme
Triangulation

Offset

Completeness

Process

Different research questions

Explanation

Unexpected results

Instrument development

Sampling

Credibility

Context

Illustration

Utility

Confirm & discover

Diversity of views

Enhancement

Other/unclear/not stated

Alternative Scheme
highlights of findings rationale
Highlights of Findings: Rationale
  • No rationale in 27% of all articles
  • Main categories in terms of rationale:
    • Enhancement 32%
    • Completeness 13%
    • Sampling 13%
    • Triangulation 13%
highlights of findings practice
Highlights of Findings: Practice
  • Main categories in terms of practice:
    • Enhancement 52% (rationale 32%)
    • Triangulation 35% (rationale 13%)
    • Completeness 29% (rationale 13%)
    • Illustration 23% (rationale 2%)
    • Sampling 19% (rationale 13%)
highlights of findings rationale and practice
Highlights of Findings: Rationale and Practice
  • Rationale and practice not always in line
    • Rationale often not reflected in how multi-strategy research actually used
    • Practice often doesn’t chime with rationales given
  • Examples from contingency table analysis
highlights of findings rationale and practice the case of triangulation
Highlights of Findings: Rationale and Practice – The Case of Triangulation
  • Of the 29 articles citing triangulation as a rationale, 19 used it that way, i.e. one-third of articles citing triangulation as rationale didn’t use multi-strategy research that way or didn’t report doing so. Other prominent uses of articles citing triangulation were: enhance (13); completeness (10); and illustration (8).
highlights of findings rationale and practice the case of triangulation1
Highlights of Findings: Rationale and Practice – The Case of Triangulation
  • Other way around
  • 80 articles used a triangulation approach but only 19 of them gave it as a rationale, i.e. three-quarters of articles using triangulation didn’t cite it as a rationale
  • Suggests triangulation hard to resist when opportunity arises
highlights of findings rationale and practice the case of completeness
Highlights of Findings: Rationale and Practice – The Case of Completeness
  • Completeness was a rationale for 31 articles and 84% of them used it that way
  • But when practice is examined, 61% of all articles using a completeness approach didn’t specify it as a rationale
highlights of findings rationale and practice the case of enhancement
Highlights of Findings: Rationale and Practice – The Case of Enhancement
  • 73 articles specified enhance as rationale, a quarter of them didn’t use multi-strategy research this way
  • 121 articles used multi-strategy research this way, but over half of them hadn’t specified it as a rationale
  • Several other examples of mismatches
highlights of findings rationale and practice1
Highlights of Findings: Rationale and Practice
  • Often mismatch between rationale and practice
  • Mixed-methods research a moveable feast
gatling gun strategy
Gatling Gun Strategy

4 or more rationales:

  • 6 articles in terms of rationale
  • 33 articles in terms of practice
themes from semi structured interviews
Themes from Semi-Structured Interviews
  • Similar to content analysis
  • Mixed-methods research increasingly expected
    • Concern for many
    • Research questions important
    • Particularistic versus universalistic discourses
    • Not due to confusion – lack of guidelines about mixed-methods issues; textbook account too simple; ambivalence about role of research questions; lack of prescription
    •  Uncertainty
what do we mean by mixing etc
What do we mean by mixing, etc.?
  • Mixing vs. integration
  • Use of verbs
  • What does bringing together of quantitative and qualitative research entail?
  • Mixed-methods research or multi-methodology/multi-method research?
is integration occurring content analysis findings
Is Integration Occurring?Content analysis findings
  • Content analysis findings
  • Genuine integration – 18% of articles
  • Parallel presentation – 47% of articles
  • Looked for evidence of findings being brought together  comprehensive picture interweaving both
is integration occurring semi structured interviews
Is Integration Occurring?Semi-structured interviews

Most expressed concern. Main themes:

  • Different audiences
  • Greater faith in one; also familiarity
  • Design issues
  • Time-lines differ
  • Skill specialisms
  • One more striking or interesting
  • Objectivist vs. constructionist accounts
  • Journal publication issues
bryman goes reflexive
Bryman Goes Reflexive
  • Mine was a mixed-methods project
  • Justified using both content analysis and qualitative interviewing quite well
  • Outcomes consistent with rationales
  • Mixed-methods research linked to my research questions
  • Integration of data not adequately achieved
why do we need mixed methods
Why do we need mixed-methods?
  • We often don’t need it
  • But difficult to decide when we do
  • Good deal of uncertainty about when to use a mixed-methods approach
should we differentiate integration vs mixed methods
Should we differentiate integration vs. mixed-methods?
  • Don’t get preoccupied with the verbs
  • Interviewees saw problem
  • Mixing findings like a conversation
  • Forging an overall account
  • Lack of templates
should we differentiate integration vs mixed methods1
Should we differentiate integration vs. mixed-methods?
  • Tended to emphasize doing mixed-methods research
  • Need more attention to representation of mixed-methods findings in publications
  • Quality criteria