Ancy Sara Philip
Ancy Sara Philip is a PhD student (Economics) from Curtin University (Offshore).
A slide or a shift? The transition of methods in a Mixed Methods study
Mixed Method Research designs have made it possible to address complex research problems which require nuanced perspectives in the social sciences. This design aims to benefit from the strengths of qualitative and quantitative methods, previously considered incongruous due to their epistemologically divergent research approaches. In order to effectively facilitate theory generation from the inductive approach and hypothesis testing from the deductive approach, the transition from one method to another needs to be done keeping in mind the potential advantages and disadvantages of both methods.
In Sequential Mixed Methods Designs, the methods are conducted sequentially in time, the second method drawing on the first for its methodological design. The process of synthesising and integrating two methods at the final phase of the MMR process is well documented, yet good practice examples of the critical transition from one method to another in sequential designs are seldom discussed. This transition is as important as the conclusive integration and synthesis of the data that occurs after the data collection.
This discussion is based on author’s own experience from her PhD project based on Mixed Method Research. The transition phase of the QUAL led sequential Mix Method study was critical and that transition process in itself was contributing to the rich insights on the topic. Adopting a theoretical framework for the entire study proved to be the facilitator of the smooth transitioning of qualitative approach to quantitative method. This binding use of a theoretical approach in the transition phase offered unique insights to interview data that was gathered from the qualitative phase to be effectively categorised, and the aspects that required further investigation to enrich the understanding was transformed into a questionnaire. Questionnaire building, informed by the categories from the qualitative data as well as the underpinning theory, is the vital aspect of the transition phase. My experience is that a strong theoretical framework will help smoothen the transition of the methods. The theory in itself becomes the bridge between both methods, thus facilitating the smooth slide from one method to another. Detailed illustration of the transition phase is thus imperative for a clearer representation of the dynamic Mixed Method Research process.