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Design Decisions in Research

4. The Design and Planning Phase

Research Design

Mixed method research is recognized as another major research approach along with qualitative and quantitative research (Johnson et al., 2007). Mixed method research combines qualitative and quantitative approaches into the methodology of a single study. Mixed method research considers multiple perspectives, collecting data on processes and experiences along with objective data (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2008). One initial decision in mixed method research is to determine whether the qualitative and quantitative approaches will assume equal status or whether one approach is dominant (Johnson et al., 2007) (See Table 5) Another design decision of mixed method research is to determine how each method will be implemented, sequentially or concurrently (See Table 6). In the aforementioned study, quantitative and qualitative data were collected concurrently.

Table 7

Mixed Method

   
Design status Equal status – each method has equal status in sampling, data collection, and data analysis

Dominant status – one method is dominant, with the other method providing supplemental data to enhance overall understanding
Design timing Concurrent – conduct of qualitative and quantitative methods at the same time

Sequential – conduct of study in 2 phases where one method is completed prior to undertaking the second method

(Johnson et al., 2007)

Example 3


In a mixed method study evaluating the translation of a diabetes prevention program to primary care, the dominant method was quantitative, evaluating outcomes in an experimental design (Whittemore et al., 2009). Qualitative data were also collected from providers and participants to understand the process of implementation; however, this was not the primary aim of the study (Whittemore et al., 2010). In this study, quantitative and qualitative data were collected concurrently.

Johnson, R. B., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(2), 112-133.
Teddlie, C., & Tashakkori, A. (Eds.). (2008). Foundations of mixed methods research: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches in the social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Johnson, R. B., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(2), 112-133.
Johnson, R. B., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1(2), 112-133.

Table 6

Common Qualitative Research Designs

  Purpose
Phenomenology To understand the lived experiences of persons.
Grounded Theory To understand the social and psychological processes that characterize an event or situation.
Ethnography To describe and interpret cultural behavior.
Critical Theory To understand how people communicate and how they develop meaning within society; To evaluate how political, cultural, and social orders influence phenomenon; To give voice to oppressed.
Generic To describe a phenomenon, experience, or situation.

Table previously published in: Whittemore, R. & Melkus, G. (2008). Designing a research study. The Diabetes Educator, 34, 201-216.

Table 5

Common Quantitative Research Designs

  Definition Major characteristics
Non-experimental Descriptive – describe and/or compare characteristics or prevalence
Correlational – to examine relationships among variables
Methodological – to develop the reliability and validity of instruments .
Collection of data without any intervention
Quasi-Experimental To examine the effects of an intervention. Manipulation (intervention) Missing Characteristic: Control (control or comparison group) AND/OR Randomization (assignment to intervention or control group randomly)
Experimental To examine the effects of an intervention. Manipulation (intervention) Control (control or comparison group) Randomization (assignment to intervention or control group randomly)

Table previously published in: Whittemore, R. & Melkus, G. (2008). Designing a research study. The Diabetes Educator, 34, 201-216.