Writing a Mixed Methods Research Report - From Mixed-Methods Research to a Journal Article - Conference Proposals and Article Types

Writing for Publication: Transitions and Tools that Support Scholars’ Success - Mary Renck Jalongo, Olivia N. Saracho 2016

Writing a Mixed Methods Research Report
From Mixed-Methods Research to a Journal Article
Conference Proposals and Article Types

Written reports of empirical studies need to be both warranted and transparent. Warranted means that enough evidence is reported to validate the findings and inferences that were presented. Transparent means that detailed information about the process of the study is described (American Educational Research Association (AERA), 2006). When writing about a mixed methods research study, researchers can use directions from numerous professional associations and books, including the American Psychological Association’s (APA, 2010) manual, the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) two guides on conducting and reporting research (i.e., Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research in AERA Publications (AERA, 2006) and Standards for Reporting on Humanities-Oriented Research in AERA Publications (AERA, 2009), and the reporting standards from APA (APA Publications and Communications Board Working Group, 2008).

Writing the mixed methods research report presents many challenges. Although there are several approaches, one of the approaches is the standard APA (2010) format (Leech, 2012).

It organizes the report into the sections of: introduction, literature review, method, results, and discussion. The style in which empirical articles are written should be straightforward (Milardo, 2015). See Table 9.4 for a brief description of each component in this format.

Table 9.4

Standard APA (2010) format




Tells the story that is found in the article in fewer than 10 words. The phrase mixed methods research may be integrated in the title


Summarizes the study in approximately 250 words including the rationale (for study and use of mixed methods research), purpose, goals of the study, research questions, related scholarly work (e.g. theories and research studies), participants, data collection techniques, and interpretation


Provides a foundation, a persuasive reason for the importance of the study, a review of the literature, and briefly describes the purpose, research questions (or problems), objective(s), research methodology, and the study’s contributions to the field


Discusses the rationale for specific procedures such as selecting participants, research setting, and data sources (e.g., structured/unstructured interviews, standardized measures, questionnaires, observations, document analyses), and specific procedures for collecting both qualitative and quantitative data, validating hypothesized relationships, and selecting mixed methods research components, procedures, and processes

Data Analyses

Describes the methods of analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data in relation to the mixed methods research questions and the techniques that were used to analyze the data including statistical analyses, member checks, triangulation, and others


Presents the results of the mixed methods research analyses using a framework that is based on both qualitative and quantitative data and justifies the supporting evidence


Discusses the scientific information that was obtained from both qualitative and quantitative data and its impact on the area of study, mixed methods research questions, contributions to knowledge based on previous studies, and recommendations for research and practice


Assists in determining the significance of the theoretical framework that supports the process in the study. The selected journal will identify its required format style, which is usually the one recommended by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA, 2010)

Online Tool

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) offer detailed guidelines for writing mixed methods research at https://obssr.od.nih.gov/scientific_areas/methodology/mixed_methods_research/section2.aspx.

According to Leech (2012), the standard APA (2010) format has a number of benefits.

· The obvious subdivisions help both researchers and readers to expect the information that is in each subdivision

· Both researchers and readers are used to this format.

· Most journals require this format.

· The standard APA (2010) format is to the point and is the most frequently used.

Drawing upon the mixed methods research writing framework (Leech, Onwuegbuzie, & Combs 2011) and standard APA (2010) format, the following sections provide some guidelines with examples on how to write a publishable mixed methods research report.

The title is the first text that is seen by and attracts the readers. For the writer, a precise title helps to bring closure to the manuscript. The words in the title must be carefully chosen to describe the content of the study; effective titles are clear, concise, informative, and relevant to the target audience (Annesley 2010a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j). Some mixed methods researchers include this phrase to indicate to readers that they used this research paradigm in their study. Here are two brief descriptions of mixed methods studies and their titles:

· Example 1: Bernardi, Keim, and von der Lippe (2007) examined the social influence on family formation in eastern and western German young adults at an early stage of their family formation. They used a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analyses.

· Title: Social influences on fertility: A comparative mixed-methods study in Eastern and Western Germany

· Example 2: Hayden and Chiu (2015) examined the development of elementary preservice teachers’ reflective practices as they solved problems when they taught in a reading clinic. They collected and analyzed the teachers’ written reflections to identify relationships among problem exploration, teaching adaptations, and problem resolution.

· Title: Reflective teaching via a problem exploration—teaching adaptations—resolution cycle: A mixed methods study of preservice teachers’ reflective notes

Activity 9.3: Writing the Title of a Mixed Methods Study

Locate several examples of mixed-method study article titles. To find many examples quickly, look at the tables of contents for two journals that publish mixed methods research only: Journal of Mixed Methods Research and the International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches.

Most journals set a word limit of approximately 250 words for the abstract. The selected journal specifies its word count requirement in the authors’ guidelines section. The Society for Research in Rehabilitation (no date) recommends the structure in Table 9.5.

Table 9.5

Writing abstracts for mixed methods research

Research question/objective and design: state the research question/objective and its importance. Describe methodological or theoretical perspectives

Sampling: describe the participants and how they were selected

Data collection: describe data collection strategies (interviews, field notes, standardized tests) including what data were collected, from where, from whom, and by whom

Data analyses: describe the procedures used to analyze the qualitative and quantitative data including definitions of concepts, categories, and themes as well as how these were developed and relate to the data

Quality of data and analysis: describe the strategies that were used to improve the quality of the data analysis (e.g. triangulation, participants’ validation) and validity (e.g. consider cases, alternative explanations, team analysis, peer review panels)

Findings: summarize important findings based on interpretation and theory

Application of critical thinking to analysis: consider the researchers’ impact on data collected and analysis such as their critical method and position of data collected

Theoretical and empirical context: describe the evidence from the design and analysis that contribute to prior knowledge

Conclusions: support the conclusions based on data collected, interpretations, transferability to groups, participants, and settings beyond those studied

Activity 9.4: Writing an Abstract for a Mixed Methods Study

Use Table 9.5 as an outline to generate a draft of an abstract for a mixed-methods study you have planned or would like to conduct. How did this structure help to direct your writing efforts? Now remove the headings and fashion it into a paragraph.

If you first follow an outline (Activity 9.4) and then fashion it into a paragraph, you can reread the revised abstract and continue to edit until the abstract is precise, flows, and stays within the word limit (Bondi & Sanz, 2014).

Keywords listed under the abstract are subject terms that help readers find articles that are related to their work. In identifying key words, researchers need to list those words that best describe their study. After they have a list of important keywords, they can examine their title and abstract to mesh these keywords with those in the title and abstract (Mack, 2012).