Current mixed methods practices in qualitative research: A content analysis of leading journals

Mandy M. Archibald, Amanda I. Radil, Xiaozhou Zhang, William E. Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Mixed methods research (MMR) has become increasingly popular in recent years. Yet, methodological challenges of mixing qualitative and quantitative data remain. Understanding how MMR is approached in qualitative research journals provides insights into lingering mixing issues. In this article, we content analyzed five leading qualitative research journals from 2003 to 2014, which represents the reflective period of MMR. Of the 5,254 articles published, 94, or 1.79%, were mixed methods in nature, comprising 44 theoretically oriented articles and 50 empirical articles. In terms of theoretical articles, five content-based themes were identified: (a) MMR advocacy, (b) philosophy issues, (c) procedural suggestions, (d) practical issues and best practices, and (e) future directions. In terms of empirical articles, 36% used exploratory sequential designs, primarily to develop instruments, and 52% explicitly identified as MMR. None of the studies included MMR questions, and development (21%) and complementarity (14%) were the primary rationales for mixing. In virtually all studies (98%), mixing occurred at the data interpretation stage through some comparison of qualitative and quantitative research. Qualitative data were prioritized in 86% of the studies. Based on these findings, it appears that MMR affects qualitative research most directly by influencing study design and study purpose; however, there is a strong tendency to conduct and publish qualitative and quantitative studies separately. Recommendations for publishing future MMR are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-33
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2015


  • Content analysis
  • Integration
  • Mixed methods research
  • Multiple research methods
  • Publishing
  • Qualitative research
  • Systematic review


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