Book by Plano Clark, V., & Creswell, J
Review by Heather T. Zeng
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Online Instructor Evaluator
Park University

The road traveled in research is one filled with a number of sentiments for students and researchers alike.  Certainly anticipation, anxiety, hope, and the prospects of uncovering new knowledge to contribute to one’s field or society are milestones on this journey. This is a tall order for any student who may feel the burden of the ages and contributions of researchers preceding them. However, rest assured this writing by Plano and Creswell is a guided tour in this conversation by two insiders who have connected with premiere researchers to uncover model approaches to the variety of mixed methods used in prospective research shared; all in highly approachable writing that uncovers some of the “mystery” of mixed methodology.

The Mixed methods reader is truly intended for the individual who has a good foundational knowledge in the basic tenants of research methodology.  It is a targeted resource for those whose interests are piqued by aspects of the ongoing academic discourse of quantitative versus qualitative and combined methodologies. The prospective graduate student beginning the proposal process towards a dissertation would benefit from this presentation. Advisors would be prudent to suggest this presentation to students mired in their preliminary approaches to research or research design.

There are several advantages in having reviewed this compilation. First, it premieres the most adept researchers in the field who have bravely and soundly followed mixed methodology approaches. The editors preface each “model” research effort with explanatory rationale as to where and why it is noteworthy. Neil (2007) highlights key aspects of this classic debate noting that to posit the either or stance between methodologies is to err in an opposition framework versus a focus on the technical aspects of the utilizing both approaches. This is where Plano Clark and Creswell confirm Neil’s approach “of more good can “come of social science researchers developing skills in both realms than this debate” (p.1).  Second, the authors often provide further chronology on the progression and timeline in terms of acceptance of methodologies over the decades – with how research was pursued and the further questions that emerged from each approach used or study pursued.

Three areas that are distinctive are Mertens discussion on transformative-emancipatory approaches to research. This discussion will speak to those readers whose concerns center on social justice and assuring that a voice is heard in their prospective research. Mertens’ coverage of this advocacy stance and the prospect of social action that can result in one’s research are energizing and inspirational. Jick’s coverage of the widely known approach of triangulation unravels the prospect of more synthesis and confidence in exploring results.  Finally, the vignette from Morse provides another pragramatic exploration of the visual display of combined methodologies with precise examples that help the researcher understand through cognitive mapping the process one can undertake or choose.

While the text is designed for prospective researchers and research courses- the discussion questions go farther than the classroom. Applications exist for graduate students, their committees, or chairpersons guiding them in research that will provoke further questioning and thought on their prospective research efforts. Plano Clark and Creswell’s task in providing clarity in mixed methods research is completed in this highly readable and accessible contribution.

Neil, J. (2007). Qualitative versus Quantitative Research: Key Points in a Classic Debate Retrieved on August 2, 2008 from http://wilderdom.com/research/QualitativeVersusQuantitativeResearch.html 

The Mixed Methods reader. (2008). Book by Plano Clark, V., & Creswell, J. Review by Heather T. Zeng. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 640pp. $49.95 (paperback). ISBN# 9781412951456
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