Qualitative research methods work to understand and discover experiences, perspectives, and insight of participants (Hiatt, 1986). An advantage of a qualitative approach is that study participants are not constrained to a predetermined set of responses (Harwell, 2011). A downfall of the study in regards to collecting data is that it is expensive considering the amount of time needed to collect the data. Qualitative research consists of using lived experiences and interpreting the phenomena (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).
Quantitative research methods focus on increasing objectivity and typically interested in future prediction (Harwell, 2011). Features of quantitative research include instruments used for collecting data, which often include test, reliance, probability theory, and surveys for analyzing statistical hypothesis that relate to research questions. Quantitative methods are considered deductive in nature considering collected data create general inferences about the characteristics of a population (Harwell, 2011). A quantitative method often makes assumptions that there is only a single truth that exist, which does not include human perception (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). A quantitative approach is beneficial for gathering information. The problem with this approach is that it does not cover the reason for why certain data concluded in a certain manner.
Mixed methods combine qualitative and quantitative methods by linking their differences while addresses a research question (Harwell, 2011). The key principle of mixed methods is that various forms of data should be collected by using multiple strategies and methods. The methods should assist with reflecting complementary strengths and weaknesses that do not overlap. The mixed methods study should create insight that is not possible with only a qualitative or quantitative approach. Mixed methods produce opportunities for approaches with weaknesses and presents opportunities by correcting method biases (Harwell, 2011). Mixed methods approach uses balance for efficiently collecting data. The concern with using a mixed methods approach is that the method struggles to complement, and not duplicate each approach (Harwell, 2011).
Research study methodologies are characterized as either qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both, which is referred to as mixed methods. Of the methods, neither can be considered the best method without factoring the goals and objectives of the research. Research that desires to focus on interviewing lived experiences of participants should use a qualitative approach (Harwell, 2011). In contrast, a mixed methods approach should be used for research that needs a combination of qualitative and quantitate approaches to justify the goals and objectives.
Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Introduction. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 1–29). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. doi:10.1108/09504120610655394
Hiatt, J. F. (1986). Spirituality, medicine, and healing. Southern Medical Journal, 79, 736–743. doi:10.1097/00007611-198606000-00022
Harwell, M. R. (2011). Research design in qualitative/quantitative/mixed methods. The Sage handbook for research in education. 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 147. doi:10.4135/9781483351377.n11
Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. doi:10.1177/144078338702300329
Dr. Elijah Clark (December 13, 2016). Qualitative research methods [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://elijahclark.com/qualitative-research-methods/