It is argued in this article that the legal system, from initial investigation by detectives to final resolution in court by lawyers, judges, and juries, offers a basis for investigating phenomena in the social sciences using mixed methods. We think that this new paradigm combines the components of both the qualitative and quantitative paradigms and provides a practical model for conceptualizing and conducting mixed methods research. The implication of this new paradigm is that it may help us better understand underlying phenomena in scholarly inquiry and thus offers a potential contribution for using a mixed-methods approach in both education and the social sciences. However, adopting and adapting this paradigm for mixed-methods inquiry will require further exploration and empirical replication.


detectives, legal system, mixed methods, abductive reasoning, trustworthiness

Author Bio(s)

James A. Bernauer is a university professor of education at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. His areas of interest include learning theory, pedagogy, and research methodology. Comments and questions welcome at bernauer@rmu.edu.

Frank Hartle is an Assistant Professor at Robert Morris University and the Director of the Criminal Justice Program. He has over 25 years of experience in law enforcement at the local and federal levels, both as a detective and federal agent. He is a founding member and coordinator for Robert Morris University’s Center for Cyber Research and Training and served on the board of directors for the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis located at George Mason University. Comments and questions welcome at hartle@rmu.edu.


We would like to acknowledge the tremendous role of the annual TQR Conference for fostering scholarship and tapping into the creativity of researchers around the world.

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