Mending Fences: Defining the Domains and Approaches of Quantitative and Qualitative Research

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In view of the increasing ubiquity of qualitative research, particularly mixed method designs, it is important to examine whether qualitative and quantitative models of research can be integrated and how this integration should take place. The recent adoption of best practices for mixed methods research by the NIH seems an opportune starting point for discussion of these questions. This article explores the notion that qualitative and quantitative research, while stemming from fundamentally different “approaches,” might yet find an appropriate complementary relationship. We argue, however, that such a complementary relationship depends on an understanding of the notion of approach and an insight into the fundamentally different guiding questions and domains of these 2 research models. Holding that “good fences make good neighbors,” this article explores the frontier between quantitative and qualitative research and the challenges attendant to designing and conducting mixed methods research.

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