Q: Would my qualitative research that uses frequencies and percentages still be qualitative or mixed method?

Detailed Question -

I have seen many papers that follow the qualitative method yet use charts, tables, and percentages in order to illustrate their results. I personally prefer using statistics to support my data. However, my instructor severely disagrees. She thinks that as I am using numbers in the Results section, it means that I am adopting the mixed method, that is, qualitative and quantitative. My data is in the form of words. I know I am following the qualitative method. However, "some" of the teachers think that this is a mixed method as I have included numbers.

1 Answer to this question

As with your earlier query, there are different ways of looking at this, academically or technically and practically.

A pure qualitative study would use only textual data, whereas a pure quantitative study would look at only numerical data. So, it would mean that one that uses both would be mixed method. However, the distinction between a quantitative study and a qualitative study also, or rather, especially, lies in the subject they are studying: quali is more about aspects of individual or group behavior, whereas quanti is more about ‘hard facts.’ Technically, this factor should primarily determine what is defined as one kind of study or the other.

Having said that, in an everyday, practical context, it may not serve more than a taxonomical purpose to hard-define a study as one or other. So, if your teachers or supervisors believe your study is more mixed method, there’s no harm in going that way. It’s also practical because they are your supervisors after all, and you may not wish to come across as too confrontational at a relatively early stage in your career. Being more flexible or accommodating now may keep the doors open for more intense dialogs with them in the future. :-)

However, for the study in question, classifying it will depend on one bit of clarification. In one place, you have said that your data “is in the form of words,” but have later said that you have “included numbers.” Again, if you are referring to the same study, and keeping in mind the points discussed above, it may be wiser to go with ‘mixed method.’

Hope that helps. For more insights on the types of research methods, you may also refer to the following resources:

All the best for classifying and then writing the study!

Now, on a different though related note, and going by the nature of your queries here, it would seem you rather like engaging in dialogs and discussions around research. If so, we would suggest checking out our Researcher Voice group on Facebook. The group brings together researchers and academics from across the world sharing thoughts, inputs, and insights on various dimensions of research and also the researcher life. You may check out the group here: Researcher Voice