What is a Mixed Methods Research?

Given the different characteristics of the quantitative and qualitative methodologies, it stands to reason that the combination of the two will result in another unique set of characteristics

First, many people think that any study in which both quantitative and qualitative data are collected is a mixed methods study; this isn’t necessarily true. In some cases, it just means we’re conducting two studies simultaneously. 
For example, I could conduct an opinion poll of local school parents by asking them to comment on the characteristics they looked for as they started a search for a new superintendent (i.e., qualitative data). Within the same opinion poll, I could provide them with a list of possible school starting times and ask them to rank them according to their preference (i.e., quantitative data). Although my poll would be asking for responses requiring both types of data, it’s not a mixed methods study. To put it simply, one set of data is not being used to complement or explain the other by merging or connecting the two (Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004).

Mixed methods studies can be considered simultaneous when both quantitative and qualitative data are collected at the same time, or can be considered sequential, where one type of data is collected after the other (Creswell, 2014). These are not part of a larger quantitative study, where multiple variables are observed, manipulated, and measured (e.g., experimental research), nor are they a standard qualitative model (e.g., a case study or grounded theory). Mixed methods studies are just that, an approach to answering research questions that requires data collection and analysis of the type called for in a given study.

Even though, as a research method, mixed methods approaches are different from qualitative and quantitative approaches, many of the same tools still apply. 

For example, if you’re collecting quantitative data, your sampling procedures must adhere to the rules and guidelines for studies of that type. Ideas such as using a small purposive sample for qualitative research and needing a large sample for quantitative research still hold true.

Finally, while they are separate methodologies, in order to conduct a good mixed methods study, you should be very familiar with the components of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. In addition to the commonality of tools, the same philosophical underpinnings still apply; the paradigm you choose will be based on your axiology, ontology, and epistemology.

To summarize all this, before you consider conducting a mixed methods study, ensure that:

1. You have a good overarching knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research.
2. You understand the assumptions underlying each research method.
3. You have a good working knowledge of the analytic procedures and tools related to both quantitative            and qualitative research.
4. You have the ability to understand and interpret results from the quantitative and qualitative methods.
5. You are willing to accept and forego methodological prejudices from training in a prior discipline.
6. You understand the different disciplines, audiences, and appropriate studies where mixed methods are            acceptable.