Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Social Sciences: A Theoretical Review of Possibilities and Challenges

By Gutu Olana Wayessa.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Questions concerning the nature of reality (ontology), how reality should be researched (methodology), and what constitutes meaningful knowledge (epistemology) not merely invite philosophical deliberations, but also have practical implications. The paper argues that ontological and epistemological positions often inform methodological choices. Certain methodological selections are reinforced by certain perspectives on philosophical questions as to what constitutes science and what qualifies as a scientific research. From a critical-realist perspective, this paper reflects on ontological and epistemological implications of qualitative-quantitative divide and presents the arguments for and against combining qualitative and quantitative methods. While arguing for mainstreaming mixed-methods approach as a viable alternative in social sciences, the paper also discusses possible challenges of the approach.

Keywords: Ontology, Epistemology, Methodology, Critical Realism, Qualitative Methods, Quantitative Methods, Mixed-methods

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.131-141. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 360.161KB).

Dr. Gutu Olana Wayessa

PhD Candidate, Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Concerning my educational background, I hold BSc degree in agricultural extension from Haramaya University, Ethiopia, and M.Sc. degree in management of natural resources and sustainable agriculture from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in Development Studies at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland. My academic and professional interests include population displacement and resettlement studies, livelihood analysis, management of natural resources, climate change, pastoralism, agricultural extension, and (rural) development policy.