Mixed Methods Designs Essay

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Generally, research may be quantitative or qualitative. Nonetheless, the usage of the two methods at the same time is common -- the mixed methods approach. Indeed, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches overcomes the limitations inherent in each approach, resulting in a better understanding of the research problem (Creswell & Clark, 2011). This paper identifies the major components of mixed methods research design and the strengths and weaknesses of the design. The paper also examines the relevance of the design to criminal justice agencies.

The mixed methods design has a number of components. The first step is to define the design (Creswell, 2014). This is particularly important as the design is quite new in research revolving around social and human disciplines. Defining the design gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of the core attributes associated with the design. This entails describing the collection, analysis, and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data. It also involves describing the timing of data collection as well as the theory and philosophical worldview underlying the above procedures.

The next step involves educating the reader about other terms that may be used in place of mixed methods. These include mixed methodology, multi-method, and quantitative and qualitative methods (Creswell, 2014). It is also important to familiarise the reader with the history of the mixed methods design. According to Creswell (2014), the mixed methods design gained popularity towards the end of the 1980s, with researchers attempting to overcome the weaknesses presented by single-method designs. Since then, the design has undergone significant development, evaluation, and philosophical analysis, and has been used in diverse fields such as education, social sciences, and health sciences.

Following a brief description of the design and its historical background, the next step involves providing a justification for the choice of the design (Creswell, 2014).
Why use both quantitative and qualitative methods in the same study? Generally, the use of the mixed methods design is informed by the need to capitalise on the strengths of both qualitative and quantitative methods and address the weaknesses of each method (Bryman, 2008). The approach can also be ideal when both qualitative and quantitative data are available.

The researcher must also describe and justify the type of mixed method design to be used. There are three mixed methods designs: convergent parallel mixed methods, explanatory sequential mixed methods, and exploratory sequential mixed methods (Creswell, 2014). The convergent mixed methods design is the most common and basically involves using both qualitative and quantitative data. The researcher collects and analyses each type of data separately, and contrasts the findings. The explanatory sequential mixed methods design entails a two-step process. In the first step, the researcher collects and analyses quantitative data. In the second stage, the researcher uses the findings of the first step to collect qualitative data with the aim of gaining a more in-depth understanding of the initial quantitative findings (Trahan & Stewart, 2013). The exploratory sequential mixed methods design also involves a two-step process. Nonetheless, dissimilar to explanatory sequential mixed methods, the exploratory sequential mixed methods design starts with qualitative data (Creswell, 2014). The qualitative findings are then used to collect quantitative data with the aim of examining the extent to which the qualitative data can be used to infer to a larger sample or population. Finally, the researcher must describe the challenges presented by utilizing both quantitative and qualitative methods (Creswell, 2014).

Using the mixed methods design gives the researcher the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods, thereby avoiding….....

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Bryman, A. (2008). Social research methods. 3rd ed. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Creswell, J. (2014). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. 4th ed. London: SAGE.

Creswell, J., & Clark, V. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. 2nd ed. London: SAGE.

Maruna, S. (2009). Mixed methods research in criminology: why not go both ways? In A. Piquero and D. Weisburd (eds), Handbook of Quantitative Criminology, New York: Springer, pp. 123-140.

Trahan, A., & Stewart, D. (2013). Toward a pragmatic framework for mixed methods research in criminal justice and criminology. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 9(1), 59-74.

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