Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Typology of Mixed Methods Sampling Designs in Social Science Research

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Typology of Mixed Methods Sampling Designs in Social Science Research

Article excerpt

This paper provides a framework for developing sampling designs in mixed methods research. First, we present sampling schemes that have been associated with quantitative and qualitative research. Second, we discuss sample size considerations and provide sample size recommendations for each of the major research designs for quantitative and qualitative approaches. Third, we provide a sampling design typology and we demonstrate how sampling designs can be classified according to time orientation of the components and relationship of the qualitative and quantitative sample. Fourth, we present four major crises to mixed methods research and indicate how each crisis may be used to guide sampling design considerations. Finally, we emphasize how sampling design impacts the extent to which researchers can generalize their findings. Key Words: Sampling Schemes, Qualitative Research, Generalization, Parallel Sampling Designs, Pairwise Sampling Designs, Subgroup Sampling Designs, Nested Sampling Designs, and Multilevel Sampling Designs

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Sampling, which is the process of selecting "a portion, piece, or segment that is representative of a whole" (The American Heritage College Dictionary, 1993, p. 1206), is an important step in the research process because it helps to inform the quality of inferences made by the researcher that stem from the underlying findings. In both quantitative and qualitative studies, researchers must decide the number of participants to select (i.e., sample size) and how to select these sample members (i.e., sampling scheme). While the decisions can be difficult for both qualitative and quantitative researchers, sampling strategies are even more complex for studies in which qualitative and quantitative research approaches are combined either concurrently or sequentially. Studies that combine or mix qualitative and quantitative research techniques fall into a class of research that are appropriately called mixed methods research or mixed research. Sampling decisions typically are more complicated in mixed methods research because sampling schemes must be designed for both the qualitative and quantitative research components of these studies.

Despite the fact that mixed methods studies have now become popularized, and despite the number of books (Brewer & Hunter, 1989; Bryman, 1989; Cook & Reichardt, 1979; Creswell, 1994; Greene & Caracelli, 1997; Newman & Benz, 1998; Reichardt & Rallis, 1994; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 1998, 2003a), book chapters (Creswell, 1999, 2002; Jick, 1983; Li, Marquart, & Zercher, 2000; McMillan & Schumacher, 2001; Onwuegbuzie, Jiao, & Bostick, 2004; Onwuegbuzie & Johnson, 2004; Smith, 1986), and methodological articles (Caracelli & Greene, 1993; Dzurec & Abraham, 1993; Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989; Greene, & McClintock, 1985; Gueulette, Newgent, & Newman, 1999; Howe, 1988, 1992; Jick, 1979; Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004; Laurie & Sullivan, 1991; Morgan, 1998; Morse, 1991, 1996; Onwuegbuzie, 2002a; Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2004b, 2005a; Rossman & Wilson, 1985; Sandelowski, 2001; Sechrest & Sidana, 1995; Sieber, 1973; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003b; Waysman & Savaya, 1997) devoted to mixed methods research, relatively little has been written on the topic of sampling. In fact, at the time of writing1, with the exception of Kemper, Stringfield, and Teddlie (2003) and Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2005a), discussion of sampling schemes has taken place in ways that link research paradigm to method. Specifically, random sampling schemes are presented as belonging to the quantitative paradigm, whereas non-random sampling schemes are presented as belonging to the qualitative paradigm. As noted by Onwuegbuzie and Leech (2005a), this represents a false dichotomy. Rather, both random and non-random sampling can be used in quantitative and qualitative studies.

Similarly, discussion of sample size considerations tends to be dichotomized, with small samples being associated with qualitative research and large samples being associated with quantitative studies. …

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