The Fundamental Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Data in Mixed Methods Research
Mixed methods research is commonly defined as the combination and integration of qualitative and quantitative data. However, defining these two data types has proven difficult. In this article, I argue that qualitative and quantitative data are fundamentally different, and this difference is not about words and numbers but about condensation and structure. As qualitative data are analyzed with qualitative methods and quantitative data with quantitative methods, we cannot analyze one type of data with the other type of method. Quantitative data analysis can reveal new patterns, but these are always related to the existing variables, whereas qualitative data analysis can reveal new aspects that are hidden in the data. To consider data as quantitative or qualitative, we should judge these data as end products, not in terms of the process through which they come into being. Thus, quantitizing qualitative data results in quantitative data and the analysis thereof is quantitative, not mixed, data analysis. For mixed data analysis, both real, non-quantitized qualitative data and quantitative data are needed. As these quantitative data may be quantitized qualitative data, the implication is that, contrary to a common view, mixed methods research does not necessarily involve quantitative data collection.
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