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Qual Health Res. 1998 May;8(3):352-61.

Mixing qualitative methods: quality assurance or qualitative quagmire?

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  • 1Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Hull, UK.


Although the advisability of combining qualitative and quantitative approaches has been questioned on the grounds of incompatibility of epistemological assumptions that underpin the two paradigms, mixing methods within the qualitative paradigm has been viewed as a more straightforward enterprise. This article challenges this view, highlighting the existence of several qualitative traditions, each with its own distinctive set of assumptions about what constitutes appropriate research questions; theoretical frameworks; research settings; relationships with those whom we study; techniques for eliciting data; form and content of data; and approaches to analyzing, presenting, and disseminating data. Multimethod qualitative approaches can be seen to occupy a contested domain. Analytical rigor would be strengthened by acknowledging and addressing the potentially contradictory assumptions on which one draws when seeking to combine qualitative methods. As qualitative researchers, it is incumbent on us to pay attention to context--not just in terms of the data collected but in terms of our own methodological positions.

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