Different ways of combining qualitative with quantitative methods for impact assessment
Independent Advisory and Evaluation Service
Qualitative methods have long been used in agricultural research to bring the perspectives and worldviews of farmers into the research process. By seeing the world through the eyes of farmers and understanding their contexts and motivations, qualitative researchers have tried to answer questions such as – How can farmer field schools consider indigenous knowledge and cultural norms? How can recommendations for farmers find a balance between proposals that fit local needs and are context-specific, but are also broad enough to be generalizable? What are the best ways of bridging the gap between how farmers define pest problems and how scientists define them? For a historical account – spanning thirty years – of the work done by anthropologists at IRRI, see Price and Palis 2016.
However, despite a long history, qualitative approaches are still viewed as “good-to-have” but not a necessary and integral part of basic scientific research, impact assessments or policymaking. It is therefore worthwhile to consider some specific ways of fruitfully combining qualitative with quantitative approaches to highlight the value of integrating qualitative approaches to the researcher’s toolkit.