Qualitative data collection along side surveys and censuses: more than the sum of the parts
Enid Schatz, University of Missouri at Columbia
Researchers conducting surveys or demographic surveillance system censuses gain substantially from nesting qualitative studies within these projects. This paper outlines a particular type of mixed-method research—sampling respondents for semi-structured interviews from survey or census lists. Survey/census data available on the larger population enables the selection of representative qualitative samples and generalizable results. While findings may be similar to other qualitative methods, inference is more robust due to knowledge of similarities and differences between qualitative respondents and the larger population. Like in other mixed-methods work, the qualitative project provides insight for improving quantitative analyses and future measures. Importantly, the available quantitative data also enhances the qualitative project. This paper provides examples from nested projects, one in Malawi and one in South Africa, to show that the incorporation of nested qualitative research addresses a number of quantitative researchers’ reservations about qualitative methodologies, while providing better grounding for both quantitative and qualitative findings.