Disadvantages of Mixed Method Design


Although I talked about many benefits of mixed methods in my previous blog there are also many limitations as well. In this blog I will explain some of the more prominent disadvantages as well as writing a short list of disadvantages to sum it all up.

One of the main disadvantages of this design is that when you quantitize qualitative data it loses its flexibility and depth, which is one of the main advantages of qualitative research. This occurs because qualitative codes are multidimensional (Bazeley, 2004) while quantitative codes are one-dimensional and fixed so basically changing rich qualitative data to dichotomous variables produces one dimensional immutable data (Driscoll et al., 2007). It is possible for a researcher to avoid quantitizing qualitative data but it can become very time-consuming and complex process as it requires analysing, coding and integrating data from unstructured to structured data (Driscoll et al., 2007).

Another problem associated with mixed method design is the possible statistical measurement limitations of qualitative data when it has been quantitized as quantitized qualitative data is very vulnerable to collinearity (Roberts, 2000). Researchers having to collect and analyse qualitative data may reduce their sample size for the design to be less time-consuming and doing so can affect statistical procedures like analyses of variance and t-tests. This is a serious challenge for this design as the researcher may not have enough statistical power to support their research (Driscoll et al., 2007). Although this can be avoided if the researcher decides not to conduct a mixed method design that involves quantitization.

Weaknesses of Mixed Method Design (Onwuegbuzie & Johnson, 2004)
• Time Consuming & Expensive.
• Difficult finding a researcher with experience in both qualitative and quantitative research.
• Researcher has to learn multiple methods and be able to know how to mix each method effectively.
• Methodological purists believe that a researcher should either pick the qualitative or quantitative paradigm and not both.
• How to interpret conflicting results & analysing quantitative data qualitatively still need to be figured out.

In conclusion mixed method design can an effective design to use but only if the researcher is well versed in both quantitative and qualitative research methods and also knows how to avoid the major challenges of the design (e.g. collinearity). For a researcher to be able to understand all these different methods and approaches it would become very time-consuming and expensive which may discourage many researchers.


6 responses »

  1. Not all studies call for a mixed method design, but for certain studies, it can definitely be beneficial. I recall a presentation given earlier this year in my Popps class, addressing the lack of available support for fathers of children with disabilities. The study looked at data of marriage breakups of family’s with children that had a disability. Not only was the quantitative data recorded but also qualitative, meaningful statements of the fathers experience, all with the view of finding interventions to improve coping methods and quality of family life. Yes this study was time consuming but well worth it, considering the impact its outcome can have on peoples lives.

    • I can see the huge benefits of mixed design like study you mention. Although there are a lot of disadvantages other than time and money costs that may make researchers avoid using this design based on the fact that all the kinks in the design have yet to be worked out. Onwuegbuzie and Johnson (2004) stated that dealing with conflicting results and being able to analyse quantitative data qualitatively has yet to be figured out which I see as a huge disadvantage. Also it has been said that it is very difficult to find reviewers for a journal that used mixed method as most of the time some may claim to be mixed method when one of these methods were used superficially.

  2. I think it is helpful to conduct mixed methods research in order to get a fuller picture. If one is worried about publishing challenges, one can always publish two articles (one with the qualitative part and the other with the quantitative part) so don’t let that stop you.

    • What about the publication of one article with both parts qualitative and quantitative broken down and the combined study with one supporting the other

  3. It is and added advantage in using a mixed research design since there is no pure method,say quali or quanti that stands on its own and fulfill the requrements. The one using a quanti method cannot avoid the description, of which is the quali approach.

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