Skip navigation

Category Archives: Research Question

Article by Bryman, Alan (2007) in Int. Journal of Social Research Methodology (IJSRM), 10:1.


The first article that I read and cited regarding to the ‘mixed method’ research methodology was the one by Kaplan & Duchon ( 1988 ) [1]. It was for my M. Sc. thesis in 2006 where I cited it to support my research design that combined survey method (quantitative) with multiple case study approach (qualitative).


This paper that I’ve just read is the second one. It’s of a very great interest to me where I learn a lot about the role of research question in determining the research method. From the textbooks and lectures on research methodology, I understand that the connection of research question and research method is: research question à research method. But according to this paper, there are two other frameworks that explain the connection between these two fundamentals-things in research:


Alternative Framework 1


Research Question ß Disciplinary/Policy/Funding expectations à Research Method


The author identified the third ‘element’ between research question and research method, i.e. the researchers’ beliefs about the following: (a) disciplinary requirements concerning what should pass as acceptable knowledge; (b) policy makers’ expectations concerning the kind of knowledge they require for policy, and; (c) expectations of funding bodies. The way research questions are formulated and how data are collected and analyzed are greatly influenced by this third element.


Alternative Framework 2


Research question ß Methodological Commitments à Research Method


Methodological Commitments à Research Question à Research Method 


In this framework, the author identified the role of skills in developing the research question. Some researchers who are very much quantitative for instance, they will formulate the research question in a way that makes them accessible to quantitative research methods which they’re familiar with.


Another very interesting finding in this paper is the introduction of ‘particularistic’ and ‘universalistic’ discourse [Note: I use the word introduction here because I’ve never found this classification of school-of-thought before. I’m not sure whether or not this paper is the first introducing the classification in the research methodology domain. Input from colleagues that may enlighten me on this matter is very much appreciated]. These two discourses emerge when the author investigated the practice of ‘mixed-method’ research in social science.


The author identified the particularistic discourse implies that ‘mixed-methods’ research should only be used when it is appropriate to the research questions, whereas the universalistic discourse implies that mixed-methods research may have a universal suitability and should not be limited to a certain research question only. The later discourse ‘entails the view that mixed-methods research will tend to provide better outcomes’.

[1] Kaplan, B. & Duchon, D. (1988). “Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Information Systems Research: A Case Study”, MIS Quarterly, December, pp. 571-586.