The chapter reviews some of the key underlying assumptions of positivism. Researchers in the tourism field tend to argue that positivism is the dominant paradigm, but the voice of the interpretivist is getting louder. The notion of objectivity is critically discussed, with the conclusion that it is more appropriate in tourism research to refer to ‘objectivities’ and ‘subjectivities’. The chapter also outlines some of the major criticisms against positivistic research. However, by no means is the era of positivistic research in tourism over. In fact, with ‘big data’, the discipline is now moving into unchartered territory, and as some researchers have argued, there is little justification for tourism researchers to join the anti-positivism fraction at this time. Tourism research has yet to reach the high degree of ‘formalization’ and ‘technicalization’ as in other fields.
Mixed-methods research has been labelled as the ‘third movement’ after the quantitative and qualitative movements in the social sciences. While tourism and hospitality studies are increasingly adopting this approach, researchers continue to mix methods rather than methodologies. This chapter critically evaluates mixed methods research and offers researchers some guidelines on how to design such studies. The method versus paradigm debate surrounding mixed methods is reviewed, and issues of independence, timing and status pertinent to designing mixed methods studies are discussed. The chapter concludes with a pertinent observation that until researchers are trained to understand and appreciate both qualitative and quantitative methods and methodologies, the quality of mixed methods studies in tourism will not improve.