Convergence and confidentiality? Limits to the implementation of mixed methodology

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18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper is to identify and explain a rather large impediment to the use of mixed method research designs that begin with survey data. Although supplementing quantitative survey analyses with insights derived from qualitative work is increasingly popular, there is also heightened concern about ethical issues in research, particularly the confidentiality of human research subjects. Surprisingly, there has been little discussion about how these two trends intersect, and the extent to which they are compatible. In this paper I argue that because of the important obligation to protect human research subjects' identities (and, to a lesser extent, the proliferation of publicly available datasets), few researchers are actually in a position to implement this type of mixed methodology. Despite their noted advantages over mono-method designs, mixed method designs that start with quantitative data and subsequently supplement it with qualitative insights may not achieve the dominance that many have supposed and desired.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Mixed methodology
  • Primary and secondary data
  • Quantitative and qualitative research
  • Research ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science


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