Quality & Quantity

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 659–676 | Cite as

Mixed methods research synthesis: definition, framework, and potential

  • M. HeyvaertEmail author
  • B. Maes
  • P. Onghena


Literature on the combination of qualitative and quantitative research components at the primary empirical study level has recently accumulated exponentially. However, this combination is only rarely discussed and applied at the research synthesis level. The purpose of this paper is to explore the possible contribution of mixed methods research to the integration of qualitative and quantitative research at the synthesis level. In order to contribute to the methodology and utilization of mixed methods at the synthesis level, we present a framework to perform mixed methods research syntheses (MMRS). The presented classification framework can help to inform researchers intending to carry out MMRS, and to provide ideas for conceptualizing and developing those syntheses. We illustrate the use of this framework by applying it to the planning of MMRS on effectiveness studies concerning interventions for challenging behavior in persons with intellectual disabilities, presenting two hypothetical examples. Finally, we discuss possible strengths of MMRS and note some remaining challenges concerning the implementation of these syntheses.


Mixed methods research Mixed methodology Systematic review Research synthesis Intellectual disability Challenging behavior 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Methodology of Educational Sciences Research Group, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Parenting and Special Education Research Group, Faculty of Psychology and Educational SciencesKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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