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Mixed Methods Research Training Program for the Health Sciences

2021 Call for Applications

We are now accepting applications for 2021. The deadline for submission is Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 5pm Eastern Time. The MMRTP Retreat will be held in the Summer of 2021.

Scholars’ skill and experience level

We recognize that a major issue in providing advanced training in mixed methods is assessing the level of Scholars in terms of experience in quantitative and qualitative methods, in proposing mixed methods applications, in submitting mixed methods manuscripts, and in terms of the suitability of mixed methods to the research question and program of the Scholar. The table below provides a general conceptual framework for learner levels and needs at each level in mixed methods research. We strive to address the training needs and strategies to increase the level of each Scholar (e.g., to move from “learner” to “investigator” and possibly on to “consultant”). The skill level of a Scholar and the level of their career may be related but must be considered separately in evaluating each Scholar. We are striving to tailor the training to the needs and level of the Scholar through a combination of seminars and individual mentoring and consulting. Take a look at the biographical sketches of the scholars on the web site to gain an appreciation of the breadth of career levels and topics represented.

Scholars’ career level

New investigators

This program will encourage early- and mid-career faculty to be independent investigators in research related to health employing mixed methods. Some participants will meet NIH’s criteria as new investigators, defined as an individual who has “not previously competed successfully as PD/PI for a substantial NIH independent research award.” Prior NIH funding by small or exploratory grants (e.g., R03, R21) or mentored career development awards (e.g., K01, K23) are not only permitted but are key indicators of an applicant’s potential success. This program targets applicants who have evidence of their potential for conducting R01/R34 quality research in health, becoming scientific leaders in their field, and benefiting from program participation.

Experienced investigators

We want to be open to experienced investigators (i.e., investigators who have successfully applied for R01 funding) because some investigators may have reached a point in their research where they realize that to answer important questions and to increase the impact of their research on public health they need to bring mixed methods to bear. We will admit investigators with more experience on a case-by-case basis, recognizing that we value the experience of investigators who have mainly trained in one methodological framework (‘qualitative’ or ‘quantitative’).

Nonacademic investigators

State and large city health departments increasingly have research and evaluation specialists who oversee the work of internal or externally contracted researchers. Academic institutions typically do not include these partners in training opportunities, but we have found that mixing non-academic and academic researchers in training courses can benefit both groups, stimulate further research partnerships and improve the quality of the research. By including those who might commission mixed methods research to better understand successes and failures in health department policies and programs, we create not only additional capacity for such research, but additional opportunities to develop that capacity.

Table. Conceptual framework for learner needs in mixed methods research.

Description

Training needs

Training strategy

Constraints

Mixed Methods Learner

  • trained in either qual or quan research
  • wants to expand into mixed methods
  • aims largely to be a consumer of mixed methods research, participate on a mixed methods team,  and be able to critique a mixed methods journal article or proposal
  • comes with skills in either quantitative or qualitative research, perhaps some skills in both -- especially in the areas of data collection and analysis 

 

  • course in mixed methods with “hands-on” experience
  • reading texts and journals on mixed methods, especially in their discipline
  • opportunity to present ideas and review journal articles in seminars

 

  • lack of institutional culture to encourage mixed methods research
  • lack of courses on mixed methods
  • time required to learn mixed methods
  • lack of a “critical mass” of interested investigators

 

Mixed Methods Investigator

  • plans on conducting a mixed methods study
  • needs all the skills of a “learner,” and more
  • needs an intensive introduction to types of mixed methods designs and challenges or threats to validity
  • workshops on mixed methods in which the major designs are discussed in detail extensive reading of examples of mixed methods designs from the literature
  • a mentor who will advise on their own individual project development of a mixed methods proposal that will be advanced for extramural funding
  • read mixed methods journal articles in field of interest and discuss the strengths and weaknesses with a mentor or work group
  • attends mixed methods workshops and shares on-going progress on their project to get feedback
  • Join a research team carrying out mixed methods research
  • need to locate a mentor
  • time to read articles and discuss strengths and weaknesses
  • resources to attend workshops at national meetings as well as locally
  • faculty and staff supportive of mixed methods

 

Mixed Methods Methodologist / Consultant

  • has skills to advise individuals and team members on a mixed methods investigation can write a mixed methods section into a proposal 
  • familiar with literature on mixed methods
  • critiques mixed methods studies, pointing out strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve the project
  • takes the initiative in developing both methodological and empirical mixed methods manuscripts
  • needs to have experience as a mixed methods learner and investigator 
  • experience in serving as the methodologist on proposals for external funding 
  • developed a specialty area within mixed methods
  • published methodological and empirical articles using mixed methods
  • served as a mentor for new mixed methods investigators

 

  • identification as the mixed methods “expert” in the organization
  • develops into a mentor for others
  • has funded projects using mixed methods presented at national disciplinary conferences using mixed methods
  • presented at mixed methods conferences
  • networks with other mixed methods methodologists

 

  • few individuals in the United States have achieved this skill level, very few in health services research
  • resources at the institution level are needed to support work at this skill level