The Nature of Mixed Methods Research

  • Cara MeixnerEmail author
  • John D. Hathcoat
Reference work entry


Mixed methods research (MMR) has gained traction in the social sciences, evolving as a genre of inquiry that intentionally and systematically connects qualitative and quantitative methods in order to address substantive questions. Mixed methods projects are often preplanned, resulting in a fixed design. MMR can also be emergent; a researcher may craft a follow-up qualitative study, for instance, to make meaning of elusive quantitative findings. We unveil the nature of mixed methods research in the context of philosophical positions (e.g., constructivism, postpositivism, advocacy, and pragmatism) with critical attention to successes and challenges (e.g., incompatibility, conditional incompatibility, integration). Drawing from examples in the health social sciences, we showcase major mixed methods approaches – such as convergent parallel, exploratory, explanatory, intervention, and hybrid designs – while attending to notions of mixing, timing, and weighting data. Criticisms and accolades regarding MMR are thread throughout the chapter, given their parallels to phases in research design. Pivotally, the chapter also addresses ways that readers can “get started” on their own mixed methods projects.


Mixed methods research Research design Philosophical positions Convergent parallel design Exploratory design Explanatory design Intervention design Hybrid design Constructivism Postpositivism Advocacy Pragmatism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Graduate Psychology, Center for Faculty InnovationJames Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of Graduate Psychology, Center for Assessment and Research StudiesJames Madison UniversityHarrisonburgUSA

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