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Can I combine qualitative and quantitative methods - Statswork

Can I Combine Qualitative and Quantitative Methods?
Dr. Nancy Agens, Head,
Technical Operations, Statswork
[email protected]
Qualitative and Quantitative research
provides a deep understanding of the
problem in separate manner. Qualitative
researches are often to be of understanding
the personal views of the people, whereas
quantitative researches are of concrete
statistics and generalization of the
population through the samples. However,
there has been an increasing trend from
early 90’s in combining the quantitative
and qualitative research which in turns
delivers significant insights about the
problem. In this blog, I will list out the
benefits of combining both researches to
give meaningful results of the study.
 In earlier studies, the qualitative
researches are being conducted faceto-face. However, with the advent of
digital technologies, the qualitative
research can be conducted through
online mode where the respondents
share the information which you need
in less time. In addition, the qualitative
and quantitative data can be collected
with the same survey and with the
same respondents in this online mode
of data collection.
 Having the data collected from the
online survey, now the researcher can
develop a hypothesis of the problem
whether it is of understanding the
problem or validate a hypothesis of
interest (qualitative) or to explore the
scope of the problem (quantitative)
with the same respondent group.
 Combining the qualitative and
quantitative research often saves time
in the case of market research analysis.
For example, consider a online
shopping survey, here the researcher
wants to know the pattern of people
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purchasing the product and the pattern
of people not purchasing the product
from a website. The research problem
is multi-fold, i.e, the people may add a
product to the cart and leaves the
website without shopping or the people
may do a window shopping or the
people may search for products for the
new arrivals or the people may leave
the website because of no trial
experience without purchasing. Thus,
the problem can be taken as both
qualitative and quantitative in a single
sample survey. Combining the two
research may lead to reduce the time of
data collection, reduce the cost, and
As in the case of earlier example, the
combination of both qualitative and
quantitative research gives more deeper
insights about the problem and it allow us
to satisfy the customer needs in a timely
manner with a proper decision through the
statistical analysis.
The researches in early 80’s are often of
either qualitative or quantitative in nature.
However, you can optimize the research
interest with mixing both at a time.
Though it may not sounds good in certain
area of research, but it becomes a common
paradigm in many statistical practices.
Qualitative and quantitative methods can
be combined at various point of view, i.e
either at the time of data collection or at
the analysis of data. In practice, there are
three different research designs to combine
these both research in a single survey.
They are
 Explanatory Design
 Exploratory Design
 Parallel Convergence Design
Let’s see each of this in detail.
In an explanatory design, there are two
possibilities of conducting a mixed
research (i) the observations are recorded
in qualitative manner and the analyses are
conducted using quantitative manner by
converting the text data into numbers say,
number of times good opinion recorded or
the number of times person purchased a
product, and (ii) collect a large sample for
quantitative study and from that collect a
sub sample with small size and conduct
qualitative research for getting more
detailed opinions about the problem.
Figure1. Explanatory Process Design
Let me explain you the second case with
an example. Suppose, the researcher is
interested in finding the shopping
experience of 10 mobile websites and
he/she constructed a questionnaire on the
topic and conducted a large comparative
study using quantitative measures. Then
with the statistical results, he/she wants to
explore the shopping experience in more
precise manner. So, small samples of say,
15 respondents are chosen from the
population and conducted a face-to-face
interview and analysed the data in
qualitative manner. Here the researcher
used a new set of 15 participants for the
study. However, one can select a sub
sample from the previous samples and
proceed with the analysis.
In an exploratory design, the study starts
from qualitative to quantitative.
Figure 2. Exploratory Process Design
Exploratory design is something like a
pilot study. First we make use of small
participants and test the research
hypothesis and then develop the idea to a
quantitative research.
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So far, we have seen that the data is being
collected separately that is either
quantitative or qualitative manner. Here, in
the case of parallel convergent design,
the qualitative and quantitative data is
being collected simultaneously but
independently and taken forward for the
statistical data analysis. In analysing this
kind of mixed data, the research interest
often to compare and contrast the findings
of the study and identify if there is any
pattern in the data.
Figure 3. Parallel Convergent Process Design
Suppose a company executive wants to
identify patterns in the purchase of
products who are shopping from an online
store and who are shopping from the
showroom. Thus, the company executive
decided to conduct a qualitative research
for the persons shopping from showroom
and quantitative research for the online
shopping. Then the executive combines
and converge the findings to deliver
meaning insights to develop the business
In conclusion, If you still have a question
of whether to combine the qualitative and
quantitative research, then my answer is a
Big Yes! you can combine these two
according to the research needs and keep a
clear track of the data is collected and the
statistical analysis you use to deliver
proper inference of the problem.
Brannen, J. (ed) Mixing Methods: Qualitative and
Quantitative Research. Aldershot: Avebury.
[3] Caracelli, V.W. & Greene, J.C. (1993) Data analysis
designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,
15(2), pp. 195-207.
[4] Carey, J.W. (1993) Linking qualitative and
quantitative methods: Integrating cultural factors into
public health. Qualitative Health Research, 3, pp. 298318.
[5] Cresswell, J.W. (1995) Research design: Qualitative
and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage.
[1] Brewer, J. & Hunter, A. (1989) Multimethod
research: A synthesis of styles. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
[2] Bryman, A. (1992) Quantitative and qualitative
research: further reflections on their integration. In
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