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The Challenges of Working in a Multi-Methods Team

Updated: Feb 14

by Prof Jo Crotty, Co-investigator, UK Team

I have always been a qualitative researcher. I like talking so maybe that’s part of it, but also, I want to get under the hood of a situation, understand why things happen the way they do, to unpack the nuance, and to observe the world as perceived by others. Conversely, I largely viewed, quantitative research as reductive. How can it tell you anything meaningful if it makes ‘assumptions’, ‘controls’ for things, or worse, uses ‘dummy’ data?

And so, when I ended up on this team where more than half the members were quantitative researchers, I approached our initial meetings with some trepidation. And to start with at least, I felt that my trepidation was warranted. The divide between the qualitative and the quantitative researchers on the team felt both huge and unbridgeable. It was very clear that my scepticism about quantitative methods was being reflected back at me by the quants people. As a result, team ‘qual’ and team ‘quant’ viewed the aims and potential outcomes of the project so differently that I felt that we would end up peeling off into separate groupings and collecting and publishing our own findings rather than it become one, cohesive and comparative project.


Yet, as we go to know each other we began to realise that our own prejudices, and lack of knowledge about the power and opportunity arising from these different methodological approaches, began to break down. I confess I am still not a quantitative researcher, but working with academics who are highly skilled at creating survey instruments and generating quality data from them has been revelatory. But this has worked both ways, with the qualitative team members working with the quantitative members to transfer skills on interview and data analysis techniques. Working together on and through these methodological challenges has made us a stronger team, will allow us to provide deeper and more nuanced findings, and I hope to make meaningful policy interventions by the end of the project.


I never thought I would say it, but I am happy that we decided to take this mixed methods approach! Who knew?!

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