Explanatory Sequential (QUAN -> qual)
According to Creswell (2013), this mix method style uses qualitative methods to do a deep dive into the quantitative results that have been previously gathered (often to understand the data with respect to the culture). The key defining feature here is that quantitative data is collected before the qualitative data and that the quantitative data drives the results from the qualitative. Thus, the emphasis is given to the quantitative results in order to explore and make sense of qualitative results. It is used to probe quantitative results by explaining them via qualitative results. Essentially, using qualitative results to enhance your quantitative results.
Exploratory Sequential (QUAL -> quan)
According to Creswell (2013), this mix method style uses quantitative methods to confirm the qualitative results that have been previously gathered (often to understand the culture behind the data). The key defining feature here is that qualitative data is collected before the quantitative data and that the qualitative data drives the results from the quantitative. Thus, the emphasis is given to the qualitative results in order to explore and make sense of quantitative results. It is used to probe qualitative results by explaining them via quantitative results. Essentially, using quantitative results to enhance your qualitative results.
Which method would you most likely use? If your methodological fit suggests you to use a mixed-methods research project, does your world view colors your choice?
Do you know what methodology you should use for your research project?
If there is a lot of extensive literature for a topic, then, according to Edmonson and McManus (2007) one could make a contribution to a mature theory then quantitative methodology would be the best methodological fit. If one strays and does a qualitative methodology in this case, they could run into reinventing the wheel error and may fail to fill a gap in the body of knowledge.
If there is just a little literature for a topic, then one could make a contribution to a nascent theory via qualitative methodologies, which in turn would be the best methodological fit (Edmonson & McManus, 2007). If you do a quantitative research project here, you may be jumping the gun and running into possible false conclusions caused by confounding variables and may still fail to fill the gap in the body of knowledge.
Finally, one can stray from both pure qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and go into a mixed-methods study, and this can occur when there is enough research that the body of knowledge isn’t considered nascent, but not enough to be considered mature (Edmonson & McManus, 2007). Going one route here would do an injustice in filling in the gap in the body of knowledge, because you may be missing key insights that the each part of the mixed methodology (both qualitative and quantitative) can bring to the field.
So, prior to deciding which methodology you should choose, you should do an in-depth literature review. You cannot pick an appropriate methodology without knowing the body of knowledge.
Hint: The more quantitative research articles you find in a body of knowledge, the more likely your project will be dealing with either a mixed-methods (low number of articles) or a quantitative method (high number of articles) project. If you see none, you may be working on a qualitative methodology.
- Edmondson, A., & McManus, S. (2007). Methodological fit in management field research. Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1155–1179. CYBRARY.
The four worldviews according to Cresswell (2013) are postpositivism (akin to quantitative methods), constructivism (akin to qualitative methods), advocacy (akin to advocating action), and pragmatism (akin to mixed methods). There are positives and negatives for each world view. For pragmatists, they use what truth and what methods from anywhere that works at the time they need it, to get the results they need. Though the pragmatist research style takes time to conduct. The advocacy places importance on creating an action item for social change to diminish inequity gaps between asymmetric power relationships like those that exist with class structure and minorities. Though this research is noble, the moral arc of history bends towards justice, but very slowly, it took centuries for race equality to be where it is at today, it took over 60 years for gender equality, and 40 years for LGBT equality. Yet, there are still inequalities amongst these groups and the majority that have yet to be resolved. For instance: Equal Pay for Equal Work for All, Employment/Housing Non-Discrimination for LGBT, Racial Profiling, etc. The constructivist viewpoint researchers seek to understand the world around them through subjective means. They use their own understanding and interpretation of historical and cultural settings of participants to shape their interpretation of the open-ended data they collect. This can lead to an interpretation that is shaped by the researcher’s background and not representative of the whole situation at hand. Finally, postpositivism looks at the world in numbers, knowing their limitation that not everything can be described in numbers, they choose to propose an alternative hypothesis where they can either accept or reject the hypothesis. Numbers are imperfect and fallible.
My personal world view is akin to a pragmatist world view. My background in math, science, technology, and management help me synthesize ideas from multiple fields to drive innovation. It has allowed me to learn rapidly because I can see how one field ties to the other and makes me more adaptable. However, I also lean a bit more strongly to the math and science side of myself, which is a postpostivism view.