Criteria In Choosing A Research Design

Qualitative, quantitative approaches, and mixed methods are equally likely to be applied. Then, what factors can influence a person to choose one particular approach over another for his research proposal? 

Research Problems

Research issues are issues that really need to be addressed (such as the issue of racial discrimination). Certain social problems sometimes determine the research approach used. For example, if the problem requires (a) Identification of factors that influence outcomes, (b) engagement functions, or (c) predictive understanding of outcomes, the quantitative approach becomes the best option. This approach is also worth applying to test a theory or statement.

If there is a concept or phenomenon that needs to be understood, for example, because there is little research that discusses the phenomenon/concept, it means that a qualitative approach can be chosen as the best way. 

The qualitative approach is exploratory and useful for researchers who do not know how to test variables. 

This type of approach can also be useful, for example, because there is a topic that is new, and this new topic has never been discussed with a specific sample or group of individuals; or because the theories that exist so far have not been applied as a basis for examining a sample or group of individuals studied (Morse, 1991).

A mixed method approach is useful, especially when a quantitative approach or qualitative approach is not sufficient to understand the problem under study. As a result, both must be combined in order to be able to understand the problems being studied. 

For example, a researcher may wish to generalize his or her findings to existing populations; or may wish to develop a detailed view of the meaning of a particular phenomenon or concept. In this study, the researcher must first study what variables will be studied, then test these variables based on an extensive sample of individuals. 

If not, researchers can conduct a survey first on a large number of individuals, then follow up with a number of participants only to get their views on the research topic. Under these conditions, the collection of closed quantitative data and open qualitative data is absolutely necessary.


Creswell, J.W. (1999) Mixed method research: Introduction and application. In G.J. Cizek (Ed.). Handbook of educational policy (pp. 455-472). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choos¬ing among Five Approaches ( 3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Creswell, J.W. (2008). Educational Research: Ptoming, Conducting and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Creswell, J.W. & Brown, M.L. (1992, Fall). How chairpersons enhance faculty research: A grounded theory study. The Review of Higher Education, 16(1), 41-62.

Creswell, J.W., & Miller, D. (2000). Determining validity in qualita¬tive inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39(3), 124-130.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. Sage publications.

Creswell, J.W. & Piano Clark, V.L. (2007). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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