Utilizing Multiple Methods in Successive Steps of Research Programs

Multiple methods can also be used in successive steps of a research program to gain an increasingly better understanding of a construct and its relations with other constructs. Examples for this are research programs that start out with qualitative research methods and subsequently conduct studies in which more traditional, quantitative techniques are used. For example, Johnston, Corban, and Clarke (1999) used a multimethod approach for studying adherence issues in sport and exercise. Specifically, they began the data collection process using grounded theory. Grounded theory is an exploratory qualitative data collection technique that gathers data either from a single source or from a variety of sources, including interviews, field observations, and archival research. Qualitative data is continuously sampled and analyzed using coding and theoretical sampling procedures as outlined in Strauss and Corbin (1990). Following the specified coding schemes, the interpretation of data and production of theory co-evolve by feeding into and shaping one another to create a theory that (a) fits the data well, (b) provides understanding, (c) is generalizable, and (d) clarifies the conditions under which it applies. Subsequently, the researchers used multidimensional scalogram analysis as an exploratory quantitative procedure. Finally, they conducted structural equation modeling based on the results of their earlier qualitative and quantitative analyses. Their aim was to demonstrate that the use of both methodologies together in one research program can lead to a more complete understanding of the factors relating to adherence in sport and exercise settings. By first using the exploratory qualitative and quantitative methods to develop possible models of exercise adherence for males and females, they were able to identify variables related to sport and exercise adherence and the promotion of particular adherence models. These could then be tested with structural equation modeling. The outcome was a validated adherence model that was supported by well-substantiated information obtained from the qualitative and quantitative analyses.

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