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Building on the seminal work of Brewer and Hunter (1989, 2006), Hunter and Brewer (2003, 2015a, 2015b), and Seawright (2016), multimethod research—also known as multiple methods research—is defined as research that systematically combines, mixes, or integrates more than one research method/methodology/paradigms/analyses/etc. to produce a high-quality research study. Thus, multimethod research includes the following three broad cases:
- (Case a) qualitative methods/methodologies/paradigms/analyses/etc. +…+ quantitative methods/methodologies (i.e., qual +…+ quan)
- (Case b) qualitative methods/methodologies/paradigms/analyses/etc. +…+ qualitative methods/methodologies (i.e., qual +…+ qual)
- (Case c) quantitative methods/methodologies/paradigms/analyses/etc. +…+ quantitative methods/methodologies (i.e., quan +…+ quan)
This definition leads to the following two corollaries:
- The ellipses in Cases a-c allow for the possibility of two or more methods/methodologies/paradigms/analyses/etc. being combined, mixed, or integrated.
- Case a is a special case of multimethod research, which is commonly referred to as mixed methods research.
Building on the popularized definition of Johnson, Onwuegbuzie, and Turner (2007), mixed methods research (MMR)—also known as mixed research, mixed methodology, and integrated research—is an intellectual and practical synthesis based on qualitative and quantitative research. It is the third major research approach (along with qualitative and quantitative research). MMR recognizes the importance of traditional quantitative and qualitative research, but also offers a powerful third choice that often will provide the most informative, complete, balanced, and useful research results. Furthermore, MMR is the research approach that (a) often partners with the philosophy of pragmatism in one of its forms (left, right, middle); (b) follows the logic of mixed methods research (including a both-and-logic, the logic of the fundamental principle of MMR, and any other useful logics imported from qualitative or quantitative research that are helpful for producing defensible and usable research findings); (c) relies on qualitative and quantitative viewpoints, data collection methods, methodologies, paradigms, sampling, analysis, inference techniques, and the like combined according to the integrative logic of mixed methods research to address one’s research question(s); and (d) is cognizant, appreciative, and inclusive of local and broader sociopolitical realities, resources, and needs. Furthermore, the mixed methods research approach offers an important approach for generating and testing critical research questions for drawing full and warranted conclusions about the world in which we live.
Brewer, J., & Hunter, A. (1989). Multimethod research: A synthesis of styles. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Brewer, J., & Hunter, A. (2006). Foundations of multimethod research: Synthesizing styles. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hunter, A., & Brewer, J. (2003). Multimethod research in sociology. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research (pp. 577-594). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Hunter, A., & Brewer, J. (2015a). Designing multimethod research. In R. B. Johnson & S. Hesse-Biber (Eds.), Oxford handbook of multimethod and mixed methods research inquiry (pp. 185-205). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Hunter, A., & Brewer, J. (2015b). Conundrums of multimethod research. In R. B. Johnson & S. Hesse-Biber (Eds.), Oxford handbook of multimethod and mixed methods research inquiry (pp. 616-623). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Johnson, R. B., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1, 112-133. doi:10.1177/1558689806298224
Seawright, J. (2016). Multi-Method social science: Combining qualitative and quantitative tools. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.