ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance


Reflections on Mixed and Multimethod Research 1

Session Organisers Dr Susanne Vogl (University of Vienna)
Dr Andrea Hense (Sociological Research Institute Göttingen)
Dr Leila Akremi (German Statutory Pension Insurance Scheme)
TimeTuesday 16th July, 11:00 - 12:30
Room D30

For a few decades now, mixed (qualitative and quantitative) and multimethod research (methods of the same tradition) has become fashionable. Beyond a period of developing design terminologies and discussing epistemological backgrounds, the community is now paying more and more attention to practical issues and a greater variety of methodological combinations. Arguably, there are different ways of „mixing” different research methods in mixed methods or multimethod research. The mixing can occur at different stages of the research process like sampling, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation. This implies that different approaches and data can be integrated at various levels or stages and strategies or data can stem from the same (multimethod) or different (mixed methods) research traditions.
One of the most important problems of mixed methods and multimethod research is how to integrate different approaches and their results to generate “meta-inferences” (Teddlie/Tashakkori 2009: 300). Some solutions for dealing with this “integration challenge“ (Freshwater/Fetters 2015; Bryman 2007) are broadly discussed in handbooks (Cresswell/Plano Clark 2011; Tashakkori/Teddlie 2010), but in practical research applications specific difficulties arise which are not covered by existing methods literature.
In this session, we invite presentations on different research designs in mixed and multimethod research and their purposes. We encourage a critical reflection on strengths, weaknesses, and practical problems of the “mixing” and the solution thereof. Presentations that combine survey research or survey data with qualitative methods are specifically welcome. Furthermore, they can focus on various types of sampling, data collection methods, data, and analytical strategies, e.g. verbal and visual data, big data, surveys, experiments, ethnography, qualitative and/or quantitative observations, network or discourse analysis, text mining, content analysis and so on.
We aim to stipulate a discussion on types of research designs and combinations of different data types in a thoughtful and innovative way. We encourage critical and reflective presentations of research practices in mixed and multimethod research (instead of mere presentations of what has been done or two loosely linked studies) to advance understanding and practice of mixed and multimethod research.

Keywords: mixed methods, multimethod, research design, types of data

Qualitative Methods and Perspective Triangulation Discussed Using the Example of Workplace Health Promotion

Professor Heike Ohlbrecht (Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)
Miss Bianca Lange (Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg) - Presenting Author
Miss Josephine Jellen (Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg)

Questions of securing the employability of employees are becoming increasingly important in view of a rapidly changing world of work. The research project "Preventive Health Strategies - Learning from OIM", which was funded by the Hans Böckler Foundation and ended in spring 2019, investigated the possibilities of preserving jobs for employees with health impairments. The main focus of the qualitative study was to identify the health risk factors in the world of work and thus to examine the access and implementation conditions of a operational integration management (OIM), particularly from the perspective of employees, especially in small and medium-sized enterprises.
The multi-perspective research design was divided into two research phases.
The focus of the first project phase was on retrospective episodic interviews (N=40) with employees and the collection and analysis of expert interviews (N=20). In addition, anonymous case documentation and case files (N=50) were evaluated. After the research results on method and perspective triangulation in the first project phase led to empirically saturated findings (Glaser/ Strauss 1967), in the second project phase the results had to be reflected in the action practice of the field. To this end, 12 participatory workshops were held with the aim of not simply viewing the project results as ready-made knowledge, but to evaluate the research results through the joint work of researchers, stakeholders and actors in order to achieve a high degree of applicability and usefulness of results in action practice. In this contribution, the practical research experiences in dealing with qualitative multi-methodical and perspective research designs will be presented and critically reflected. Interview research on the one hand, analysis of files on the other hand as well as participative approaches show specific strengths as well as limitations. This triangulation of data can only be fruitful for research if the data are brought into a specific relationship.


Challenges of Multi-Method Research on the Police

Ms Josephine Jellen (University of Magdeburg, Department of Sociology) - Presenting Author
Ms Heike Ohlbrecht (University of Magdeburg, Department of Sociology)
Ms Bianca Lange (University of Magdeburg, Department of Sociology)
Mr Filip Habib (University of Magdeburg, Department of Sociology)

Qualitative research on the police in Germany is a prerequisite: a) official approvals from state institutions are required to carry out the data collection and b) mutual trust between police officers and researchers is necessary during the data collection in order to gain far-reaching insights into work processes and relevant value systems. Ethnography is one of the few methodological approaches that offers the possibility of "intimate acquaintances" (Blumer) in fieldwork in order to understand how police officers see themselves and their work and how they interpret social problems. Ethnographic research is accompanied by data pluralism and a multi-perspective view of social problems.
On the basis of a dissertation project, the presentation will address the special interface between the data pluralism of ethnographic research and the object of police research. The research project uses ethnographic research to investigate the effects of migration on the everyday working lives of police officers. The project will also examine police officers' interpretations of the increased demands made in the course of the migration movement.
It is becoming apparent that the strong hierarchical structures of the police mean that there is hardly any interaction between the hierarchical levels in police everyday life. Thus, the researcher misses observing these interactions and being able to refer to them in ethnographic interviews. Due to the strong hierarchical structures, however, it is enormously important to know the management's assessments of relevant work processes. The dissertation project used expert interviews with leading police officers, whose field manuals were developed from initial concepts of observation protocols and ethnographic interviews with patrolmen. The article focuses on the interdependence between the collection and analysis of observation protocols, protocols of ethnographic interviews and the collection and analysis of expert interviews in the hierarchical structure of the police. The methodological possibilities and limitations will be critically discussed.


How Graphical Elicitation Methods Complement Family Interviews

Dr Andrea Hense (Sociological Research Institute Goettingen (SOFI)) - Presenting Author

The talk aims to reflect a multimethod research design that is used to analyze intergenerational status stability in occupational fields of the middle class. It is based on a joined project of the Sociological Research Institute Göttingen (SOFI: Vogel/Hense) and the Technical University Dortmund (TU Dortmund: Burzan/Schad). The project studies by which means and in what ways middle class families succeed in maintaining their social status across several generations. Thereby, we put a special focus on intergenerational relations and compare three typical occupational fields of the middle class: (1) professions in (quasi-)government institutions like doctors, teachers or lawyers, (2) family-owned craft business, and (3) qualified employees in technical fields (e.g. engineers). Our research methods involve family interviews with members of three generations who are interviewed simultaneously using narrative interview techniques. This approach offers the opportunity to analyze communication and collective perceptions in families and directly relate them to individual perspectives and individual positions within the family. Graphical elicitation methods - and that means visual data - complement the verbal data: Genograms help to understand family relations across three generations and localize the interviewees within their broader family. This is especially needed to reflect aspects of sample selection within the families who are interviewed. Additionally, the embedded multimethod research design strives for complementarity and the visual data complement insights of the verbal data. The mixing occurs during data collection, data analysis, and interpretation and helps to inform the sampling. The talk will focus on a critical reflection of the strengths, weaknesses, and practical problems of the multimethod research strategy.


Analytic Integration of Physical Space in a Multimethod Design

Mr Filip Elias Habib (Otto von Guericke Universität Magdeburg) - Presenting Author

“Twenty years ago the Sonnenallee looked like any other street in Berlin. You see? no groceries, the street was empty of people. Things have changed here. It was a dead street. Now it is alive. Look at the people. For me, it is like being home.'' Participant interview. Naji, Berlin. June 2015
The influence of communication and information-flows on contemporary societies belongs to one of the central categories in social sciences (Appadurai, Castells, Hannerz). It is even to assume that the ongoing and rapid technological progress is faster than social scientists have processed or are processing at this moment: especially w.r.t. designing innovative methods that respond to the global changes and consequences caused by the mentioned influence (cf. Lachenmann). Recent attempts such as visual research methods or social media network analysis aim mainly to analyze the Lifeworld (Husserl and Schutz) and a reconstruction of Knowledge based on the understanding of the structures of the Lifeworld (cf. Schutz & Luckmann) nevertheless overlooking the relation to the physical space. This paper builds on the assumption that flows of information and communication influences have changed and are continuously changing the physical space and vice versa (cf. Löw). Innovative methods such as "multisided'' or "global ethnography'' (Marcus, Gupta & Ferguson) have enriched the qualitative method of research and attempted to follow the flows of information in their physical space(s). In this paper, I present methods used during work on the cultural identity of Palestinians in different geographical contexts. The suggested methods focus on the conclusion of the physical space as an inseparable part of a multimethod construction that includes different geographical contexts. The suggested methods focus on the conclusion of the physical space as an inseparable part of a multimethod construction that includes different data resources that were collected throughout: biographic interviews, open participant Interviews, participant observation, and discourse analysis.


Bridging the Communication Gap between Parkinson's Disease Healthcare Providers and Patients

Ms Robyn Rapoport (SSRS) - Presenting Author
Dr Arina Goyle (SSRS)
Ms Sarah Glancey (SSRS)
Ms Chelle Precht (SSRS)
Dr Katie Kopil (Michael J. Fox Foundation)
Dr Connie Marras (University of Toronto)
Dr Steven J. Kahl (Tuck School of Business)
Ms Daisy Daeschler (Michael J. Fox Foundation)
Dr Lana Chahine (University of Pittsburgh)

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As healthcare costs continue to escalate, health services researchers are increasingly interested in efforts supporting high-value care, while mitigating costs. One critical element in this process is ensuring patients and healthcare providers (HCPs) can communicate effectively. Addressing patient-provider communication is particularly important to healthcare delivery for patients with chronic diseases, such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD) that typically entail the highest costs.

The current research project was designed to help address the communication gap between patients and HCPs and support development of a patient-centric lexicon to improve the quality of healthcare delivery, specifically as it relates to ‘wearing off periods’ (OFF), when symptoms emerge prior to scheduled doses of medication. While diagnosing and treating OFF is important to patients’ quality of life, it sometimes goes undetected when patient-provider communication is lacking regarding these symptoms.

To understand and address this communication gap, we developed a mixed-method protocol to: (1) gain insight into how PD patients communicate about OFF periods; and (2) use findings from qualitative explorations to conduct quantitative research aimed at developing a lexicon for OFF periods.

The qualitative portion of the project began with online ‘journaling’ and utilized projective techniques to elicit emotions, thoughts, and a patient-centric lexicon. Next, we conducted telephone depth interviews (TDIs) that allowed for deeper probing and further exploration of the lexicon used to describe OFF periods. Based on findings from the qualitative research, we developed and cognitively tested an online survey instrument.

This presentation will focus on the strengths and limitations of the mixed-method approach utilized and will include insights into how this approach can be: (1) used to bridge the communication gap between patients and HCPs and (2) applied more broadly in conducting research in the face of increasing interest in hard-to-reach populations and decreasing ability to use quantitative research to reach them.