Combined, integrated or mixed research methods (qualitative and quantitative) — to what extend is it simply about use, asks Morgan (2007) at the beginning of an elaborate complex article.
"Paradigms as a way to summarize researchers' beliefs" (Morgan 2007:50) gained popularity as result of Thomas Kuhn, however, a critic found more than 20 ways Khun used the term paradigms. Moore summarises four versions, namely:
- The worldview or all-encompassing way of thinking about the world, this includes beliefs concerning morals, values and aesthetics. It is a shared understanding of reality with which qualitative researchers approach their enquiry, a set of guiding assumptions.
- As epistemological stance serving as distinctive belief system, which influences how research questions are asked. Compatibility of methods is important.
- Shared beliefs among members of a specialist area (a community of practice) of researchers that share consensus about, for example, which methodological procedures are most appropriate and are absorbed in a particular body of technical knowledge.
- Model examples of research that serve as exemplars for new entrants.
Morgan (2007) focuses attention on another concept gained from Khun, namely incommensurability. [Commensurable means to have the same measure or divisor, for example the numbers 6 and 9 are divisible by 3. Incommensurable therefore implies having no common basis, measure, or standard of comparison.] Different research paradigms may produce findings that are incommensurable with other findings. However, there are often overlaps between different paradigms, resulting in permeable boundaries.
As alternative (to paradigms lost) Morgan advocates the pragmatic approach. He places methodology in the centre and asserts that equal attention should be devoted to "the connection between methodology and epistemology and the connection between methodology and methods" (p. 68). Considerations of methodology should connect epistemology with research design.
Morgan, D.L. 2007. Paradigms lost and pragmatism regained — methodological implications of combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Journal of Mixed Method Research, 1(1), pp 48-76, January 2007.