and Mixed Methods
John W. Creswell
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
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Thousand Oaks London New Delhi
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Creswell, John W.
Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method
approaches I by John W. Creswel1.- 2nd ed.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
ISBN 0-7619-2441-8 (c) - ISBN 0-7619-2442-6 (pbk.)
1. Social sciences-Research-Methodology.
2. Social sciences-Statistical methods. I. Title.
H62 .C6963 2002
C. Deborah Laughton
Diana E. Axelsen
A. J. Sobczak
C&M Digitals (P) Ltd., Chennai, India
framework be adopted to provide guidance about all facets of the
study, from assessing the general philosophical ideas behind the
inquiry to the detailed data collection and analysis procedures. Using
an extant framework also allows researchers to lodge their plans in
ideas well grounded in the literature and recognized by audiences
(e.g., faculty committees) that read and support proposals for
What frameworks exist for designing a proposal? Although differ-
ent types and terms abound In the literature, I will focus on three:
quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches. 'The first
has been available to the social and human scientist for years, the
second has emerged primarily during the last three or four decades,
and the last is new and still developing in form and substance.
This chapter introduces the reader to the three approaches to
research. I suggest that to understand them, the proposal developer
needs to consider three framework elements: philosophical assump-
tions about what constltutes knowledge claims; general procedures
of research called strategies of inquhy and detailed procedures of
data collection, analysis, and writing. called methods. Qualitative.
quantitative, and mixed methods approaches frame each of these
elements differently, and these diefences are identified and dis-
cussed in this chapter. 'Then typical scenarios that combine the three
elements are advanced, followed by the reasons why one would
choose one approach over another in designing a study. 'This discus-
sion will not be a philosophical treatise on the nature of knowledge,
but it will provide a practical grounding in some of the philosophical
ideas behind research.
n the past two decades, research approaches have multiplied to
a point at which investigators or inquirers have many choices. For
those designing a proposal or plan, I recommend that a general
4 Research Design
T H R E E ELEMENTS OF INQUIRY
In the first edition of this book, I used two approaches-qualitative and
quantitative. I described each in terms of different philosophical
assumptions about the nature of reality, epistemology, values, the
rhetoric of research, and methodology (Creswell, 1994). Several devel-
opments in the last decade have caused a reexamination of this stance.
Mixed methods research has come of age. To include only quantita-
tive and qualitative methods falls short of the major approaches
being used today in the social and human sciences.
Other philosophical assumptions beyond those advanced in 19 94
have been widely discussed in the literature. Most notably, critical
perspectives, advocacy/participatory perspectives, and pragmatic
ideas (e.g., see Lincoln & Guba, 2000; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998)
are being extensively discussed. Although philosophical ideas
remain largely "hidden" in research (Slife & Williams, 199 S), they
still influence the practice of research and need to be identified.
The situation today is less quantitative versus qualitative and more
how research practices lie somewhere on a continuum between the
two (e.g., Newrnan & Benz, 1998). The best that can be said is that
studies tend to be more quantitative or qualitative in nature. Thus,
later in the chapter I introduce typical scenarios of quantitative,
qualitative, and mixed methods research.
Finally, the practice of research (such as writing a proposal) involves
much more than philosophical assumptions. Philosophical ideas
must be combined with broad approaches to research (strategies)
and implemented with specific procedures (methods). Thus, a
framework is needed that combines the elements of philosophical
ideas, strategies, and methods into the three approaches to research.
Crotty's (1998) ideas established the groundwork for this framework.
He suggested that in designing a research proposal, we consider four
1. What epistemology-theory
theoretical perspective--informs the research (e.g., objectivism,
of knowledge embedded in the
2. What theoretical perspective-philosophical
behind the methodology in questions (e.g., positivism and
postpositivm, interpretivism, critical theory, etc.)?
A Framework for Design 5
Elements of Inquiry
Alternative Knowledge Claims
Strategies of Inquiry -
Approaches to Research
by the researcher
Mixed Methods -
~ ~ ~ l ~ t e d
Figure 1.1 Knowledge Claims. Strategies of Inquiry, and Methods
Leading to Approaches and the Design Process
3. What methodology-strategy
methods to outcomes-governs our choice and use of methods
(e.g., experimental research, survey research, ethnography, etc.)?
or plan of action that links
4. What methods-techniques and procedures40 we propose to
use (e.g., questionnaire, interview. focus group, etc.)?
These four questions show the interrelated levels of decisions that go
into the process of designing research. Moreover, these are aspects that
inform a choice of approach, ranging h m the broad assumptions that
are brought to a project to the more practical decisions made about how
to collect and analyze data.
With these ideas in mind, I conceptualized Crotty's model to address
three questions central to the design of research:
1. What knowledge claims are being made by the researcher
(including a theoretical perspective)?
2. What strategies of inquiry will inform the procedures?
3. What methods of data collection and analysis will be used?
Next, I drew a picture, as shown in Figure 1.1. This displays how three
elements of inquiry (i.e., knowledge claims, strategies, and methods)
combine to form different approaches to research. These approaches, in
turn, are translated into processes in the design of research. Preliminary
steps in designing a research proposal, then, are to assess the knowledge
claims brought to the study, to consider the strategy of inquiry that will
be used, and to identify specific methods. Using these three elements, a