A methodological framework for combining quantitative and qualitative survey methods

A methodological framework for combining quantitative and qualitative survey methods

A guide to combining quantitative and qualitative survey methods

This paper offers practical guidance for field staff and project managers, in selecting the most appropriate data collection and analysis methods when faced with information objectives and constraints in the data collection and analysis process. It aims to address the question: given a set of information objectives on the one hand, and constraints such as time, money and expertise on the other, which combinations of qualitative and quantitative approaches will be optimal?

It is argued, in order to work out the most appropriate combinations of methods for a given task, it is necessary to consider both objectives and constraints. Objectives include the investigation of a problem or phenomenon and may be seen as the overall goal of data collection. Researchers need to decide what characteristics (e.g. precision, scope of extrapolating from findings) the information ought to have, and for whom is the information being collected? (e.g. project managers, policy makers). With regards to constraints, it is important to note that objectives interact with each other: having one objective will affect the extent to which other objectives can be achieved. This is because resources of time and money and expertise are limited. These resources will often shape the parameters of a fieldwork just as much as objectives.

Key concluding points include:

  • both, objectives and resource constraints have implications for the selection of survey teams. Aside from the typical multidisciplinary combination of social and natural science inputs, there is a need to consider inputs from statisticians, especially in the more complex cases
  • case study exercises have shown that it is important that survey teams are sufficiently trained and familiar with approaches and have been provided with sufficient resources to achieve their targets
     
  • well synthesised survey results are required so that decisions can be taken by project leaders or policy decision makers. A unified set of recommendations should reflect a balanced use of tools, which ultimately led to more trustworthy information
  • aside from swapping tools for the collection and analysis of data findings obtained through the use of one approach can be confirmed, enriched, or refuted by research results obtained from the concurrent or sequenced use of the other approach.