Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pick a side!

When did it become desirable, fashionable  or acceptable to shoehorn chunks of quantitative data collection into what is obviously designed to be a qualitative study? I'm not talking about genuine mixed-methods studies but doctoral theses, and it usually IS doctoral theses I'm afraid, that undermine perfectly acceptable and robust qualitative studies with a few badly presented descriptive statistics. If a student is focussed upon qualitative work then, generally,the inclusion of poorly analysed and weak quantitative data does not enhance their work - it weakens it. Examiners who know about statistical analysis will be irritated by things like appallingly bad response rates, inappropriate statistical tests (usually treating non-parametric data as parametric) and meaningless extrapolation of non-significant findings to the general population. Examiners who are knowledgeable about qualitative methods will struggle to find meaning in the inclusion of such data and be annoyed because it detracts form the richness of the qualitative elements. I think it may be time for researchers, students and supervisors to pick a side and stop sitting on the methodological fence. Neither approach is better than the other - they are too different. They explore different things, ask different questions and give different answers - not better, just different. So, be whole hearted qualitative or be proudly quantitative. PICK A SIDE!!!! 


  1. I keep trying to be all mixed methods but anova keeps calling me back like a lost love, can't help being a stats chick

  2. Yep, I feel the same about multivariate stats. Quant and proud of it!!

  3. I know which side I'm on - the side of stories, and plenty of 'em!