Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches

Research News Article

In a study conducted by New England Journal of Medicine, it was established that marijuana has the potential of reducing the number of seizure episodes by up to a half in children suffering Dravet; a form of epilepsy. The research, whose findings were reported by ABC News Associated Press’s Marilynn Marchione, was conducted using liquefied cannabidiol known as Epidiolex manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals. The non-hallucinogenic compound was administered to the experiment group while the control group was given a placebo drug in addition to their conventional anti-seizure medication. Up to 120 children drawn from the United States and Europe were involved as participants in the study. Aged between 12 and 18 years, the participants on Epidiolex and their usual anti-seizure medication saw a significant reduction in the number of seizure episodes in a month. Data, which was compared to the previous month’s record, showed that three participants using the marijuana compound were seizure while others had their seizure episodes halved to six in four weeks. However, the participants on the marijuana compounded suffered several side effects ranging from diarrhea to sleep complications (Marchione, 2017).

The news article does not clearly indicate the data collection methodology used during the research. However, I believe that the methodology used for data collection during the study was primarily observational. The 120 participants, barring the twelve who dropped out of the study, were observed in their environment after the administration of the placebo and the marijuana compound whose efficacy was being tested. This was a case study of 120 participants. Case studies usually combine both qualitative and quantitative approaches (Mahoney & Goertz, 2006; Creswell, 2013). The relative small sample size is an indication of the use of convenient sampling where participants are chosen randomly yet such a decision is guided by available resources, time and permission (Pyrczak, 2012). In this case, permission was primarily sought from parents of the epileptic children not only because of their vulnerability but also due to their young age.

The statistics of the study reinforces the long-held opinion that marijuana has important medicinal values that can be used to treat disorders and diseases that conventional medicines have had little progress. The data added a scientific edge to the growing call for increased research into these untapped medical capabilities of marijuana. Additionally, the study reinforces the growing push for legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes by extension. This has become a thorny social and political issue over the years in the United States and Europe with several states in the U.S. legalizing its use. For a news company, relaying these findings act as a symbol of their stand on the debate of marijuana legalization especially for medicinal use. The findings give them the much-needed scientific backing in the polarized marijuana legalization debate.

This methodology was a perfect fit because it also allowed the researchers to take notes on various research outliers including abstract variables such as emotion of the parents, which cannot be effectively captured within the variables being measured. Case studies also allows for impersonal connections with the participants, which are critical in getting the understanding of the phenomenon under study (Pyrczak, 2012). This was effectively achieved in this research. Even though it was tasking and labor intensive considering the relatively large number of participants, the method used allowed the researchers to dig deeper into the topic and highlights issues beyond the scope of the variables. For example, they were able to observe the various side effects of the marijuana compound being administered to experimental group.



Creswell, J. (2013). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th ed). New York: Sage Publications, Inc.

Mahoney, J.  & Goertz, G. (2006). A tale of two cultures: Contrasting quantitative and qualitative research. Political Analysis, 14, 227–249. doi:10.1093/pan/mpj017

Marchione, M. (2017 May).  Marijuana extract helps some kids with epilepsy, study says. ABC News. Retrieved from:

Pyrczak, F. (2012). Evaluating Research in Academic Journals: A Practical Guide to Realistic Education (5th ed). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.