Life-Span Developmental Psychology: Methodological Contributions

By Stanley H. Cohen; Hayne W. Reese | Go to book overview

6
Notes from the Field: On the Coordinated Use of Quantitative and Qualitative Data

M. G. Trend The Red Road Group

"I pick up something that somebody in baseball has said, and I ask 'If this were true, what specific consequences could flow from that truth? If this were true, what else would also be true?'

Bill James The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1986


INTRODUCTION

This chapter deals with the use of ethnographic data and quantitative data on the same research project. My perspective is that of an anthropologist who spent the early part of his career working on federally funded evaluations of social programs.

Most of my early projects were team efforts. Research firms or research organizations (commonly called "evaluation contractors," or more informally, "contract houses") sometimes would hire anthropologists as on-site researchers. Their job was to gather descriptive information on how an experimental program was being implemented at the local level. This would be used to augment quantitative data obtained through surveys and management information systems.

The desirability of combining qualitative and quantitative approaches gets a good deal of lip service these days. Writing about interdisciplinary research has become a minor growth industry. Students are exhorted to remember that no single discipline or methodology has cornered the market

-119-

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