On the Compatibility Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods_Fielding

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On the Compatibility Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods_Fielding
  Introduction: On the Compatibility between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods Nigel Fielding & Margrit Schreier  Table of Contents 1. Overview 2. The Contributions in this Volume 3. Approaches to Method Combination: The Triangulation aradigm !e erences AuthorsCitation 1. Overview # $ou happen to be an avid reader o FQS % $ou ma$ have noticed that the title o this volume has changed since it was irst announced as &'ualitative and (uantitative methods: )ow the two research traditions see each other&. This irst title re lects the srcinal orientation behind the volume: to ta*e a loo* at (ualitative researchers+ views o (uantitative methods and at (uantitative researchers+ views o (ualitative methods. #s there an$thing that the$ value about the &other& tradition% and in what wa$ do the$ believe that their own methodological orientation might pro it rom integrating such elements, -1 As it has turned out% this was obviousl$ an overl$ optimistic idea% presupposing the e/istence o researchers on both sides o the methodological divide willing to ta*e an unbiased loo* both at what the$ themselves do and what the &others& do in their research practice. resumabl$ it will not be much o a surprise% either% that (ualitative researchers were o ten (uite willing to go along with this idea0whereas it proved to be much more di icult although not completel$ impossible: c . A#C)4 to ind (uantitative researchers willing to consider that there might be a point to doing things the (ualitative wa$ at least some o the time. This situation (uite accuratel$ re lects the methodological situation in the social sciences. #n man$ disciplines% the (uantitative paradigm is still the dominant one although there is some within5discipline variation rom one countr$+s social and behavioural science communit$ to another4. As a conse(uence% (ualitative researchers usuall$ cannot get b$ without some sometimes even (uite substantial4 *nowledge o (uantitative methods and methodological standards% whereas in several disciplines there is no immediate need or (uantitative researchers to &bother& much with (ualitative methods. Thus the orientation and with it the title4 o the volume have changed% re lecting the concern o (ualitative researchers in particular with the combination o (ualitative and (uantitative methods. -26e have grouped the resulting contributions into three sections. The irst and in a sense most &abstract& section comprises papers that are concerned with the logic 7 2881 9' http:www.(ualitative5research.net (s9orum 'ualitative o;ial orschung  9orum: 'ualitative ocial !esearch #< 1=3>5?@24 Volume 2% <o. 1% Art. = 9ebruar$ 2881 FORUM: QUALITATIVESOCIAL RESEARCHSOZIALFORSCHUNG  FQS  214% Art. =% <igel 9ielding B Margrit chreier: #ntroduction: On the Compatibilit$ between 'ualitative and 'uantitative !esearch Methods underl$ing (ualitative and (uantitative approaches and the conse(uences or the inter5relation o method &The logic o relating (ualitative and (uantitative method&4. #t is in this section that topics such as the conceptualisation o triangulation% abductive logic% or (uestions concerning the reconciliation o positivist and constructivist epistemologies are dealt with. #n ection two% papers presenting methodological approaches or inter5relating (ualitative and (uantitative methods have been assembled &i erent approaches or inter5relating (ualitative and (uantitative method&4. #n some cases the proposed methodologies e/tend over the entire research processD other suggestions or method integration concentrate on one phase o the research process in particular% such as the &initial telephone contact& in surve$ studies. #n ection three% the ocus is on the application o the most prominent among such integrative methodological approaches0i.e. triangulation0to actual research practice in di erent disciplines such as economics% media studies% and sociolog$ &#nnovative applications o methodological inter5relation&4. #n the ollowing% we will irst give an overview o the papers 2.4 and then go on to outline the maEor t$pes o the inter5relation o (ualitative and (uantitative method e/empli ied b$ the contributions 3.4. This is most notabl$ triangulation which will there ore be dealt with in some detail. -3 . The Contributions in this !olume ection one on the logic o relating (ualitative and (uantitative method begins with a contribution that ta*es us into the ver$ methodological center o the volume. Combining (ualitative and (uantitative methods is almost b$ de inition an issue o across5method triangulation. ince it was introduced into the social sciences b$ F<G#< 1H84% the term triangulation has become something o a catchphrase. &Triangulation& is now ubi(uitous in the methodological literature o the social sciences0and as it is o ten the case with such ubi(uitous terms% its precise meaning has become lost over time. #n his contribution% Ido JFF proceeds to identi $ the various meanings in which &triangulation&0which he regards as a metaphor rather than a precise concept0has come to be used and to determine which o these meanings is most appropriate or conceptualising the combination o (ualitative and (uantitative methods. -=)e distinguishes three meanings or models o triangulation: 14 triangulation as the mutual validation o results obtained on the basis o di erent methods the validit$ model4% 24 triangulation as a means toward obtaining a larger% more complete picture o the phenomenon under stud$ the complementarit$ model4% and 34 triangulation in its srcinal trigonometrical sense% indicating that a combination o methods is necessar$ in order to gain an$ not necessaril$ a uller4 picture o the relevant phenomenon at all the trigonometr$ model4. These three models are in turn brought to bear upon the potential relationships between the results $ielded b$ (ualitative and (uantitative methods emplo$ed in the same stud$. -?#n order to determine the applicabilit$ o these models to the combination o (ualitative and (uantitative methods% JFF goes on to e/amine the results o 7 2881 9' http:www.(ualitative5research.net (s  FQS  214% Art. =% <igel 9ielding B Margrit chreier: #ntroduction: On the Compatibilit$ between 'ualitative and 'uantitative !esearch Methods three mi/ed5method studies rom li e course research% thus t$ing his methodological considerations bac* to the actual research process. Kudging the applicabilit$ o di erent understandings o triangulation% however% is something which rom JFF+s point o view should involve not onl$ methodological and epistemological considerations% but also include theoretical considerations. JFF+s conclusion that it is the trigonometric model o triangulation which holds the greatest promise or conceptualising the combination o (ualitative and (uantitative methods is thus a (uali ied conclusion% holding especiall$ or sociological studies with its distinction between micro5 and macrolevel descriptions. JFF thus clari ies the discourse surrounding triangulation b$ presenting us with a number o models o triangulation to choose rom and he adds to the grounds on which to ma*e such a choice b$ drawing our attention to the relevance o theoretical issues0implicitl$ raising% o course% the (uestion o what such a choice would loo* li*e in other disciplines. -@hilipp MAL!#< starts out rom the observation that the call or the combination o (ualitative and (uantitative methods has become almost a commonplace in methodolog$ te/tboo*s in the social sciences. This call% reasonable as it ma$ be% MAL!#< argues% is nevertheless a long wa$ rom actual research practice and does little to tell the researcher how e/actl$ such a combination is to be achieved. N$ suggesting ive levels at which (ualitative and (uantitative methods can be related0ranging rom data to the entire research process0MAL!#< alerts us to the details which lie behind the global call or the combination o the two paradigms. -#n closing% MAL!#< turns to a premise o the inter5relation o the two paradigms which is more o ten than not le t implicit: what are the advantages o such an inter5relation, #t is especiall$ in the conte/t o his outline or an integrative documentation o the (ualitative or (uantitative4 research process that MAL!#< shows what the two paradigms stand to gain b$ no longer ignoring each other. #n the case o the (uantitative paradigm% this is in particular the greater pro/imit$ to the research subEect% while the (ualitative paradigm will pro it most b$ ma*ing the various stages o the research process more transparent and s$stematic% thus increasing the generalisabilit$ o the results. ->The ontological position o constructivist realism which is at the heart o erald CIC)#J+s contribution ma$ stri*e one0at irst sight0as something o a parado/. &!ealism& with its implications o a world out there which can be apprehended and *nown b$ scientists% is a position which has gone out o ashion in our postmodern times. &Constructivism&% on the other hand% carries associations o precisel$ such a postmodern discourse% suggesting that &the world& is real onl$ to the e/tent that we ma*e it so% that there are as man$ worlds% as man$ &realities& as there are minds to construe them. -H#n his e/plication o constructivist realism% CIC)#J cuts across such dichotomies. )is starting point is the assumption that in ever$da$ li e% we usuall$ have ver$ little doubt about the realit$ o events that be all us% our actions and our interactions with others. To the e/tent that it is precisel$ these personall$ and 7 2881 9' http:www.(ualitative5research.net (s  FQS  214% Art. =% <igel 9ielding B Margrit chreier: #ntroduction: On the Compatibilit$ between 'ualitative and 'uantitative !esearch Methods sociall$ relevant realities which constitute the subEect matter o the social sciences% the social sciences deal with phenomena which are real0hence &constructivist realism &. Let their realit$ is not a given% but it is constructed b$ imbuing the phenomenon in (uestion with meaning0hence & constructivist realism&. # this meaning is sociall$ shared% the process o meaning construction will hardl$ be noticeableD the more discrepant the social realities o two persons% however% the less the$ will be able to agree upon the realit$ o a phenomenon. #n stressing the importance o the social constitution o meaning% CIC)#J+s position is thus a*in to that o social constructionism c . or instance F!F< 1H>?4. -18# one starts out rom this ontological position% CIC)#J argues% the competition between (ualitative and (uantitative research is resolved into complementarit$. 6hile researchers rom the two paradigms tend to stress either the realist (uantitative4 or the constructivist (ualitative4 end point% the$ are in the same position: the$ both deal with real phenomena in the above sense% with social processes% and the$ both have to ascribe meaning to their data. !ather than se(uencing (ualitative and (uantitative research in some wa$% CIC)#J sees both approaches as essentiall$ inter5related% with (uantitative research contributing towards the precise identi ication o relevant processes% and (ualitative research providing the basis or their &thic* description&. -116hile most contributors to this volume unanimousl$ advocate the inter5relation o (ualitative and (uantitative methods% )arald 6#TT cautions us against the indiscriminate combination o methods rom the two paradigms. )e points out that a maEor di erence between (uantitative and (ualitative research is to be seen in their research strategies which he describes as linear and circular respectivel$. Noth research strategies% he argues% are cut out or di erent research goals% the$ accomodate di erent *inds o data and di erent sample t$pes. 6#TT goes on to show how combining (ualitative and (uantitative methods does not necessaril$ result in getting the best rom both worlds. !ather% certain t$pes o method inter5relation ma$ be cumbersome at bestD at worst% the results achieved b$ such an &unhapp$& combination will all ar short o what could have been achieved b$ remaining e/clusivel$ within one o the two paradigms. This applies in particular to the use o a (ualitative method or data collection in the conte/t o a circular research strateg$. 6#TT thus draws attention to what is easil$ orgotten in the enthusiasm over transcending the boundaries between the (ualitative and the (uantitative paradigm: Combining (ualitative and (uantitative methods is not a good thing at all times% but onl$ provided that such a combination is in line with the overall research goals. 6#TT also shows that the willingness to combine methods is not enough to ma*e such an in ormed choice o method or method combination. The researcher who wants to combine methods had better *now them all% (ualitative and (uantitative0no mean eat considering the proli eration o methods both in the (uantitative and the (ualitative area. -129or ar$ )A<J% (ualitative research is the s$stematic empirical in(uir$ into meaning. # % at the broadest level% triangulation is about adopting a sceptical 7 2881 9' http:www.(ualitative5research.net (s
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