In this 15-minute film Mhairi MacKenzie and Laurence Moore discuss the challenges but also the potential benefits of bringing together the method of qualitative interviewing with the classically quantitative method of randomised controlled trials. The strengths of the former that are highlighted include the capacity to capture wider contextual information in order to understand people’s behaviour and the opportunity to ask broader questions, while the strengths of RCTs that are emphasised include the confidence that any results are not brought about by selection bias in the study, and that the research generates results in a form that policy-makers can act upon straightforwardly. The discussion brings out that qualitative researchers may feel that they are left playing ‘second fiddle’ when the two methods are combined, because of the status attached to working with large numbers of cases, and that quantitative researchers can feel criticised for not asking a broader range of questions. However, these are not insuperable problems and various examples are given of how the two methods have the potential to be combined productively in research that asks both how and why people behave in the ways that they do around interventions in health, policing and other policy-relevant fields.
Academics in conversation: Mhairi MacKenzie, University of Glasgow, and Laurence Moore, Universityof Glasgow.