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Over the last several decades, numerous fields from the social and behavioral sciences, including the field of sociology, have undergone three methodological waves in research. The quantitative research paradigm, rooted in (logical) positivism, marked the first methodological wave, inasmuch as it was characterized by a comprehensive and formal set of assumptions and principles surrounding epistemology, ontology, axiology, methodology, and rhetoric.
The years 1900 to 1950 marked the second methodological wave, in which many researchers who rejected positivism embraced the qualitative research paradigm. Qualitative research is characterized by qualitative researchers attempting to write reliable, valid, and objective accounts of their field experiences.
The eclectic period (from 1998) gave way to the third methodological movement known as mixed methods research, which emerged from the publication of Tashakkori and Teddlie’s (1998) book Mixed Methodology: Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. As noted by Johnson and Onwuegbuzie (2004), mixed methods research involves collecting, analyzing, and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data in a single study or series of studies that investigate the same underlying phenomenon. Mixed methods research has been distinguished by an integrated and interactive set of epistemological, onto-logical, methodological, and rhetorical assumptions that promote the compatibility thesis, which posited that quantitative and qualitative approaches were neither mutually exclusive nor interchangeable. This notion allows researchers from the social and behavioral science fields the ability to collect multiple data using different strategies, approaches, and methods resulting in complementary strengths and nonoverlapping weaknesses” (Johnson & Turner 2003: 299).
- Johnson, R. B. & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2004) Mixed methods research: a research paradigm whose time has come. Educational Researcher 33 (7): 14—26.
- Johnson, R. B. & Turner, L. A. (2003) Data collection strategies in mixed methods research. In: Tashakkori, A. & Teddlie, C. (eds.), Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp. 297—319.