Mixed methods research

Mixed methods research incorporates both quantitative and qualitative data in the same study. 



Research manuals and guidance for mixed methods research


Types of mixed methods design


There are many ways to design and sequence mixed methods studies. Below are a few of the basic mixed methods study designs; however, many studies use more complex schemes to sequence, collect, and analyse qualitative and quantitative data. 

  • Convergent parallel design: Quantitative and qualitative data are collected at the same time and the analysed, compared, and interpreted together. This is also sometimes called triangulation. 
  • Explanatory sequential design: Quantitative data is collected and analysed first, then qualitative data is used to help explain and interpret quantitative findings.
  • Exploratory sequential design: Qualitative data is collected and analysed first and used to develop instruments or directions for quantitative data collection. 


Examples of mixed methods research



SCANR tip: There is a lot of jargon related to mixed methods research, such as:

  • Strand: A part of a mixed methods design, typically either a qualitative or quantitative component 
  • Deductive approach: Testing and existing theory, often through quantitative data collection
  • Inductive approach: Collecting observations to develop a theory or reach a conclusion, often through qualitative research
  • Integration: The way that quantitative and qualitative data collection are combined to answer a research question
  • Sequential: Qualitative and quantitative data are collected in distinct phases of the study.
  • Parallel/connected: Qualitative and quantitative are merged or collected concurrently.
  • Nested/embedded: Either qualitative or quantitative data collection is the main focus of the study, and the other type of data is collected to answer a complementary question. 

SCANR tip: Here are some frequently asked questions about mixed methods research:

  • Should I prioritize quantitative or qualitative data? This depends on your research question and the design of your study. This paper on constructing mixed methods research design may help. 
  • Are different phases of a mixed methods study considered different studies? A mixed methods study may consist of a single study where the researcher uses both qualitative and quantitative data, or multiple studies where a series of studies are conducted and feed into each other. 
  • Should I always conduct mixed methods research? Not necessarily! Mixed methods designs are appropriate for some studies and research questions. To understand more about the usefulness of mixed methods research, see this World Bank blog
  • When should I mix the qualitative and quantitative strands? You can mix the strands at the design level, or during data collection, analysis, or interpretation. This depends on your study design and objectives. This guidance note from the Rockefeller Foundation may help you understand mixed methods design. 
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