What is so new about mixed methods?

Qual Health Res. 2015 Jun;25(6):734-45. doi: 10.1177/1049732315573209. Epub 2015 Feb 26.


In this article, I dispute claims that mixed methods research emerged only recently in the social sciences. I argue that some anthropologists and sociologists (and others) have used mixed methods in fieldwork for at least 80 years, and there are studies from early in the 20th century that clearly fall within the definition of "mixed methods." I explore some of the history of the mixing of qualitative and quantitative data in earlier ethnographic works and show that in some sectors of social science research, the "emergence" and proliferation of mixed methods were particularly notable around the middle of the 20th century. Furthermore, concerning issues about "paradigms of research" in the social sciences, I identify some of the types of research in which the mixing of QUAL and QUAN approaches was more likely to occur. I suggest that some of the literature about research paradigms has involved a certain amount of "myth-making" in connection with descriptions of qualitative and quantitative research assumptions and styles.

Keywords: ecological studies; health care; psychological tests; qualitative; statistics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Culture
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Services Research / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality
  • Psychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design*
  • Social Sciences / statistics & numerical data