You make a solid argument for the use of mixed methods research (MMR). However, I found a few of the statements you made puzzling. Perhaps you could elucidate on their implications?
I’m not sure why it is “usually preferable to use more than one approach” (Alexandrou, 2016). If, as you rightly point out, the research question indicates the kinds of data to be collected, why is there the normative assertion that multiple approaches are “usually preferable”? Indeed, given the inherent complexity of managing MMR (Creswell, 2009) and the notion of parsimony that underpins good social theory (Neuman, 2014), the argument that MMR ‘should’ be avoided without very good reason seems more plausible to me.
Although Bryman (2009) listed ontological differences as being a possible inhibitor to a successful MMR design, he neglected to describe what these may actually be. Fitzgerald and Cunningham (2002) discuss ontological stances in their exposition of five types of epistemological position that characterise modern scientific research into reading. The fundamental way that researchers view their world influence the type of forms they view as structuring that world. Accordingly, their data collection prioritises those ontological forms, and the research questions are framed by the prevailing epistemology surrounding that ontology (Fitzgerald & Cunningham, 2002). Figure 1 shows the five epistemological positions and the seven questions on epistemology each cluster attempts to answer. The point for this week’s discussion is that while MMR is potentially a valid option for many research questions, the failure to demonstrate any linkages between strands of epistemology weaken the MMR design and, by extension, any results derived from it. In light of such diverse ways of knowing, how would you justify an MMR design when the potential data collection and data analysis may be so divergent?
Figure 1. Fitzgerald and Cunningham’s five epistemological positions and seven epistemological questions
Bryman, A. (2009). Mixed methods in organizational research. In D. A. Buchanan & A. Bryman (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of organizational research methods (4th ed., pp. 516–531). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Approaches (3rd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage. http://doi.org/10.1002/1521-3773(20010316)40:6<9823::AID-ANIE9823>3.3.CO;2-C
Fitzgerald, J., & Cunningham, J. W. (2002). Mapping basic issues for identifying epistemological outlooks. In B. K. Hofer & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Personal epistemology: The psychology of beliefs about knowledge and knowing (pp. 209–228). Mahwa, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches (7th ed.). Harlow: Pearson Education. http://doi.org/10.1234/12345678