Research methods in rural studies: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods

Dirk Strijker*, Gary Bosworth, Gosse Bouter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we analyze the use of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods in the field of rural studies by means of a content analysis of the leading journals. We begin with a short discussion of the pros and cons of mixed methods research in rural studies. We then move on to the empirical portion. We use a classification of published articles for the years 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 in the leading journals in the field: Sociologia Ruralis, Rural Sociology, and Journal of Rural Studies. We found striking differences in the publication policy of the three journals regarding methods applied. Sociologia Ruralis primarily accepts articles of a qualitative nature, and this has scarcely changed over the years. Rural Sociology, on the other hand, accepts mostly quantitative articles, and this has also been quite stable over time. The Journal of Rural Studies has traditionally been oriented towards qualitative research, but, in recent years, mixed method approaches play a visible role (around 20% in 2016). JRS is also the only journal that shows a sharp increase in papers of non-Western origin, with an emphasis on quantitative methods but not on mixed methods. The overall conclusion is that the rural research context offers considerable scope for a broader and increased application of mixed methods, and this merits greater attention among rural journals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-270
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Early online date26 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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