Approaches to interdisciplinary mixed methods research in land‐change science and environmental management


Combining qualitative and quantitative methods and data is crucial to understanding the complex dynamics and often interdisciplinary nature of conservation. Many conservation scientists use mixed methods, but there are a variety of mixed methods approaches, a lack of shared vocabulary, and few methodological frame- works. We reviewed articles from 2 conservation-related fields that often incorporate qualitative and quantitative methods: land-change science (n = 16) and environmental management (n = 16). We examined how authors of these studies approached mixed methods research by coding key methodological characteristics, including relationships between method objectives, extent of integration, iterative interactions between methods, and justification for use of mixed methods. Using these characteristics, we created a typology with the goal of improving understanding of how researchers studying land-change science and environmental management approach inter- disciplinary mixed methods research. We identified 5 types of mixed methods approaches, which we termed simple nested, informed nested, simple parallel, unidirectional synthesis, and bidirectional synthesis. Methods and data sources were often used to address different research questions within a project, and only around half of the reviewed papers methodologically integrated different forms of data. Most authors used one method to inform the other, rather than both informing one another. Very few articles used methodological iteration. Each methodological type has certain epistemological implications, such as the disciplinary reach of the research and the capacity for knowledge creation through the exchange of information between distinct methodologies. To exemplify a research design that can lead to multidimensional knowledge production, we provide a methodological framework that bidirectionally integrates and iterates qualitative and quantitative methods.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Eva Kinnebrew, University of Vermont
Elizabeth Shoffner, University of Washington
Aldo Farah-Pérez
Megan Mills-Novoa, University of Arizona
Katherine Siegel, University of California Berkeley
Conservation Biology

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