Network MMMR – Workshop #3

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An Interdisciplinary Network on the Methodology and
Applications of Integrative Research Methods

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Videos of selected conference presentations are available here.

The 3rd workshop of the research network “Mixed Methods and Multimethod Social Research” took place from January 17th-19th 2019 at Technical University Berlin under the topic of “MMMR Sampling, Data Collection, and Data Combinations”. Organized in collaboration with the Collaborate Research Centre “Re-Figuration of Spaces“ (SFB 1265) and the Graduate College “Innovation Society Today” (GRK 1672) the meeting brought together regular network members and guests from the technical university as well as international guest researchers. Keynote presentations were given by Lisa D. Pearce (University of North Carolina) and Nigel Fielding (University of Surrey) and attracted a broad audience, including numerous students of graduate and undergraduate levels.

Nigel Fielding opened his keynote with an introductory overview of current sampling-strategies in mixed methods research, focusing particularly on designs for increasing the “analytic density” of social research through additional sampling of extreme or critical cases. He then turned to a discussion of more recent developments in data collection and sampling methods, especially the combination of GIS (geographic information systems) and spatial data with computer-assisted qualitative data analyses. New techniques of data collection were also discussed in relation to MMMR, such as the “merged methods” approaches proposed by Giampietro Gobo, but also established approaches including the Delphi-Method and Citizen Science, i.e. the systematic collaboration of academic and non-academic researchers.

Lisa D. Pearce introduced the concept of “positions of inquiry”, which aims at a more accurate description of the methodological stances taken by mixed methods researchers. The concept is a critical reaction to the popular notion of locating MMMR designs on a continuum between “pure quantitative” and “pure qualitative” methods. In expressing her skepticism regarding the continuum-model and the notion of “pure” qualitative or quantitative methods, Pearce proposed the idea of researcher positions in MMMR as a composition of many methodological dimensions which cross cut the qualitative-quantitative-divide. With regard to MMMR sampling strategies, she highlighted the importance of “anomalous cases”, i.e. the productivity of close analyses of cases that do not fit a previously developed explanatory model.

The operation of “casing”, i.e. the precise, theory-guided definition of sampling units and populations, was at the center of Nina Baur’s (TU-Berlin) presentation on MMMR-sampling. A stronger emphasis on casing as the backbone for developing sampling frames, Baur argued, may lead to a rethinking of common notions of ranking and ordering qualitative and quantitative case selection strategies. The preference for quantitative sampling frameworks commonly found in much mixed methods research should be reconsidered in order to make better use of the strengths of qualitative methods in the exploration of research fields and populations, which could ultimately lead to more valid sampling.

Starting from a comprehensive overview of the current state of the MMMR-sampling literature, Margrit Schreier (Jacobs-University Bremen) developed a critical perspective on common typologies of sampling approaches. One major point of criticism was the common reliance on a strong distinction between purposive and convenience sampling strategies. In fact, as Schreier argued, most purposive sampling strategies, and even some instances of random sampling, contain elements of convenience sampling. However, the methodological implications of these interactions of different sampling strategies are rarely reflected upon in the MMMR literature.

Felix Knappertsbusch (HSU Hamburg) proposed a research design for a systematic review of method integration in empirical social research. According to Knappertsbusch, results of existing review studies show that even though MMMR is a popular research strategy in different social research areas, reference to the current methodological MMMR discourse is often sparse, which in many instances leads to integration being conducted in a rather ad hoc fashion. A comprehensive, interdisciplinary review of the current state of the practical application and methodological reflection of MMMR-designs may contribute to a better coordination of methodological discourse and empirical research practice. Such a study would especially profit from a strong connection to the sociology of scientific knowledge and philosophy of science, for example by systematically observing differences between the “reconstructed logic” of published research and the “logic-in-use” (Kaplan) of actual research practice.

Gerald Leppert (DEval) introduced key elements of the MMR-designs employed by the German Institute for Development Evaluation’s complex program evaluations. Using the example of a successful evaluation of a land-use-development-program Leppert highlighted the importance of developing a detailed “theory of change” with regard to a given research object. Integration of qualitative and quantitative methods does not only provide a highly productive tool for developing such theoretical frameworks, e.g. by identifying unanticipated causal factors through fieldwork, but also supports the validation of sampling and data-collection strategies for quasi-experimental designs.


Letzte Änderung: 5. March 2020