Linking numbers to perceptions and experiences: Why we need transdisciplinary mixed-methods combining neurophysiological and qualitative data
Today, more and more problems that scientists need to tackle are complex problems. Many examples of these can be found in the health sciences, medicine and ecology. Typical features of complex problems are that they cannot be studied by one discipline and that they need to take into account subjective data as well as objective data. Two promising responses to deal with complex problems are Transdisciplinary and Mixed Method approaches. However, there is still a lacuna to fill, with transdisciplinary studies bridging the social sciences and biomedical sciences. More specifically, we need more and better studies that combine qualitative data about subjective experiences, perception and so on with objective, quantitative, neurophysiological data. We believe that the combination of qualitative and neurophysiological data is a good example of what we would like to call transdisciplinary mixed methods. In this article, we aim to explore the opportunities of transdisciplinary mixed-methods studies in which qualitative and neurophysiological data are used. We give a brief overview of what is characteristic for this kind of studies and illustrate this with examples; we point out strengths and limitations and propose an agenda for the future. We conclude that transdisciplinary mixed-methods studies in which qualitative and neurophysiological data are used have the potential to improve our knowledge about complex problems. A main obstacle seems to be that most scientists from the biomedical sciences are not familiar with the (qualitative) methods from the social sciences and vice versa. To end this ‘clash of paradigms’TM, we urgently need to cultivate transdisciplinary thinking.