Our aim was to understand how reviewers appraise mixed methods research by analyzing reviewer comments for grant applications submitted primarily to the National Institutes of Health. We requested scholars and consultants in the Mixed Methods Research Training Program (MMRTP) for the Health Sciences to send us summary statements from their mixed methods grant applications and obtained 40 summary statements of funded (40%) and unfunded (60%) mixed methods grant applications. We conducted a document analysis using a coding rubric based on the NIH Best Practices for Mixed Methods Research in the Health Sciences and allowed inductive codes to emerge. Reviewers favorably appraised mixed methods applications demonstrating coherence among aims and research design elements, detailed methods, plans for mixed methods integration, and the use of theoretical models. Reviewers identified weaknesses in mixed methods applications that lacked methodological details or rationales, had a high participant burden, and failed to delineate investigator roles. Successful mixed methods applications convey assumptions behind the methods chosen to accomplish specific aims and clearly detail the procedures to be taken. Investigators planning to use mixed methods should remember that reviewers are looking for both points of view.
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