Mixing Methods Without Making a Mess


24 September 2021

Mixing Methods Without Making a Mess

​Research methods inform how knowledge is gained. The methods a researcher uses are often at the core of how they think about the world. Increasingly, some researchers have tried mixing methods. But this approach to research, though often beneficial, can also be challenging. Jørgen Carling shares what he has learned about using mixed methods, and why it works so well for him, drawing on his long-standing migration research experience.

Listen to the podcast episodes with Jørgen Carling to find out more, with some key insights here: 

  • Mixing is often uneven, and that’s fine. The publications range from only qualitative to only quantitative, with differently balanced mixing in between. Relatively few combine quantitative and qualitative methods in roughly equal measure.
  • Experience with both qualitative and quantitative methods has been valuable even for single-method publications, for instance for introducing contextualizing information or critical perspectives.
  • Mixed-methods projects don’t necessarily produce mixed-methods publications. Sometimes that’s by design, but it can also be a missed opportunity.
  • If a paper mainly aims to make a theoretical contribution, including both qualitative and quantitative analysis is often not sensible, especially within the scope of a standard-length journal article. But for understanding and documenting empirical mechanisms, full-fledged mixing can be great.
You can find an overview of sixteen examples here, across qualitative and quantitative components of each and on why or how they were combined. The overview uses the labels ‘qualitative’ and ‘quantitative’, referring to Mario Luis Small’s (2011) review of mixed-methods research for more nuanced distinctions.

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