Within the field of language teaching and learning, research is many things. In the early 1980s, research in our field meant linguistic analysis, case studies, or statistical studies, but in the past three decades, the variety of research types has proliferated greatly. We have seen new developments in quantitative research methods, and much expansion in the options available in qualitative research methods, as well as the appearance of mixed methods studies.
Quantitative research methods, which were limited in our field to simple statistical analyses, have proliferated into at least four categories of studies – descriptive studies, exploratory studies, quasi-experimental studies, and experimental studies – each of which can also be subdivided into three to six substantially different forms of analysis (see Figure 6.5 in Chapter 6).
Quantitative research methods are well-represented in this book but especially in Chapters 7, 18, 25, and 32. Similarly, qualitative research methods, which were limited to simple case studies or linguistic analyses, have proliferated into at least: action research, case studies, conversation analyses, corpus research, critical research, diary studies, discourse analyses, ethnographies, interviews, introspection methods, narrative inquiries, open-ended questionnaires, and teacher inquiries. These are discussed in Chapters 11–17, 19–20, 26, and 28–31, but elsewhere as well.
Chapter 10 deals with the relatively new mixed methods research (MMR), which only emerged as a recognized research paradigm at the beginning of this century. Given its flexibility and power as a research methodology, we are confident that it will continue to grow in importance in our field.