Mixed Methods as a Means to Overcome Methodological Limitations of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Recent meta-analyses about mixed method studies (cf. Bryman 2005) have shown that qualitative and quantitative methods are often combined in ways which lead to unrelated research results. One reason for this could be the fact that the ongoing discussions surrounding Mixed Methods still fail to address important methodological issues referring to the methodological limitations of both qualitative and quantitative research. Although it has often been emphasised that qualitative and quantitative methods should be combined to use their „complementary strengths and non-overlapping weaknesses.“ (Johnson, Turner 2003, S. 299) the question which weaknesses of qualitative or quantitative research could be overcome by drawing on which strengths is seldom, if ever, addressed. It may be helpful here to draw on classical arguments from adherents of the qualitative or quantitative research tradition which were developed in order to demonstrate and denounce methodological problems of the competing tradition. In discussions about Mixed Methods such arguments are often regarded as part of “paradigm wars” and neglected for that reason. However, the crucial problem with such arguments is not their existence, but that they are sometimes never answered by proponents of the competing tradition. “Paradigm warriors” tend to respond to critical remarks about limitations of their own tradition in a tit-for-tat way, by emphasing the problems of the other tradition. Thus, the problem of “small N´s and big conclusions” (Lieberson 1992/2000) has been rarely addressed properly within the confines of the qualitative research tradition. The same holds true for certain well substantiated arguments concerning limitations of the hypothetico-deductive approach in quantitative research, namely the argument that HD-research leads to the neglect of important phenomena crucial for the problem under...
References: Bryman, A. (2005): Why do researchers integrate qualitative and quantitative research? Paper presented at the Invitational Conference on “Mixed Method Research Design: Advanced Issues and Debates”, University of Basel, August 12 and 13, 2005
Johnson, B.; Turner, L.A. (2003): Data Collection Strategies in Mixed Methods Research. In: Tashakkori, A.; Teddlie, C. (Hg.): Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Thousand Oaks, Ca.: Sage. S. 297 – 319.
Lieberson, S. (1992/2000): Small N´s and big conclusions: an examination of the reasoning in comparative studies based on a small number of cases. In: Gomm, R.; Hammersley, M.; Foster, P. (Hg.): Case Study Method. Key Issues, Key Texts. London: Sage. S208 – 222.
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