Hybrid Research: Combining Quantitative Data with Qualitative Insights to Achieve Greater Understanding

At Doyle Research, we have noticed an increasing number of requests to conduct hybrid research—a seamless combination of qualitative and quantitative research.  Any survey can now be combined with qualitative feedback via video open-ends embedded into a survey; or via qualitative “pull outs,” where a select number of respondents (based on their survey responses) are asked to participate in follow up qualitative interviews.  The benefits are threefold:

  1. Address the “why” behind survey participants’ responses
  2. Add statistical significance to qualitative findings
  3. Shorten the timeframe, and potentially the budget, for accomplishing both in a single study.

This last point is often the great motivator behind the request. Timeframes and budgets continue to tighten, and there is often just not enough of either to launch two consecutive studies.  In order to capitalize on efficiency and cost savings when designing a hybrid study we have the following recommendations.

Aim for a survey that can also serve as the recruiting tool for the qualitative phase.

In the best case scenario, surveys should be designed so that qualitative respondents can be aotumatically selected for follow-up, triggered by their survey responses, rather than needing to be re-screened for the qualitative phase.  If screening questions pertinent to the qual study can be successfully combined with the meat of the quant survey, efficiencies are achieved.  If, however, they extend the survey significantly, it can increase the cost to the recruit and incentive.

Plan for a robust over-recruit. 

In most cases, quantitative databases are not built in the same way as qualitative databases, and respondents used to participating in brief quant surveys may not be primed to offer the rich insights needed for qualitative research.  A great moderator can address some of this discrepancy, but we also recommend a robust over-recruit when transitioning from quant to qual.

Meet respondents where they’re most comfortable.

Think about your survey participants.   Will they be most comfortable transitioning to a qualitative interview with a text-based online platform, a telephone call, or a live streaming video interview?   Select the method most likely to encourage participation. Partnering with vendors who have experience with conducting hybrid research can help ease the transition from quant to qual, and increase the completion rate.

There are many benefits to adding a qual component to a quant study and more tools than ever to help accomplish a hybrid approach. Being able to transition respondents directly from quant to qual helps our clients immediately explore the “why” behind survey data; and, if structured properly, can shorten the timeframe for getting research done.