Policy research often requires interviews, focus groups, and site visits to better understand dynamics in communities, institutions, and even technologies. Such data collection techniques inherently produce semi-structured and unstructured data. In the Center for Qualitative and Mixed Methods, our experts create and adapt techniques to rapidly collect and analyze these data.
Much research, especially in new or poorly understood topic areas, benefits from integrating qualitative and quantitative approaches. Qualitative methods may be used to explore new or emerging topics, while quantitative tasks may be needed to test a hypothesis or theory.
For example, in machine learning and computational linguistics, qualitative analyses can help make sense of computational analysis by defining major categories or themes of discussion related to a topic. Quantitative analysis can then show statistical differences between how groups discuss topics and ultimately see the world.
By bringing together researchers with diverse backgrounds—from computational experts to language scientists—we ensure that RAND’s mixed methods approaches lead to meaningful conclusions and intersect in novel and productive ways.
Qualitative and mixed methods allow researchers to develop formative understandings of processes and to link these understandings with quantitative data collection and analysis. Our center encourages and is involved with methodological developments in interviews and focus groups, community-based participatory research, cultural and social network analysis, computational linguistics, content analysis, and literature reviews.Learn More