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Dr. Joseph A. Maxwell
PhD, University of Chicago
Professor Emeritus of Education
Research Methodology

Contact Information

Send email to Dr. Maxwell

Phone: (703) 993-2119
Fax: (703) 993-3678
Email: jmaxwell (

George Mason University
Fairfax Campus
West Building 2004
4400 University Dr.
MS 6D2
Fairfax, VA 22030


Joe Maxwell joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Education of Mason in the Fall of 1997. His primary teaching responsibilities are for research methods courses in the Ph.D. Program, including EDRS 812, Qualitative Methods in Educational Research; EDRS 822, Advanced Qualitative Methods; EDRS 797, Mixed Method Research; and EDUC 998, The Doctoral Dissertation Proposal. Prior to coming to Mason, he was a Senior Research Associate at the Education Development Center in Newton MA, from 1995 to 1997; his work there focused on the evaluation of educational programs promoting gender equity. For ten years prior to this, he was on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he taught courses on qualitative research design and methods and the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods. He has also done research on medical education.

He has publications on qualitative research and evaluation methods; combining qualitative and quantitative methods; medical education; Native American society and culture; and cultural and social theory. His present research interests focus primarily on the philosophy and logic of research methodology; he also pursues investigations in cultural theory, diversity in educational settings, and how people learn to do qualitative research.

Research Interests
  • Qualitative and mixed-method research methodology
  • Implications of philosophy and social theory for research methodology
  • Diversity and community in educational settings
Recent Publications
  • A realist approach for qualitative research. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, in press.
  • Review of Keith Morrison, Causation in Educational Research. International Journal of Research and Method in Education 34(1): 109-111 (2011)
  • Realism as a stance for mixed method research (with K. Mittapalli). In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research, 2nd edition, pp. 145-167. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2010.
  • Using numbers in qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry 16(6), pp. 475-482 (2010).
  • Review of Jean Anyon, Theory and Educational Research: Toward Critical Social Explanation. Education Review (online journal), Jan 2010 at
  • Evidence: A critical realist perspective for qualitative research. In N. Denzin & M. Giardina (Eds.), Qualitative inquiry and social justice, pp. 108-122. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2009.
  • Review of Manfred Max Bergman (Ed.), Advances in Mixed Method Research. Journal of Mixed Method Research 3(4), 411-412 (October 2009).
  • Designing a qualitative study.In L Bickman and DJ Rog (Eds.), The handbook of applied social research methods, second edition. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2008.
  • Categorizing and connecting strategies in qualitative data analysis (with Barbara Miller). In Patricia Leavy and Sharlene Hesse-Biber (Eds.), Handbook of emergent methods. New York: Guilford Press, 2008.
  • The value of a realist understanding of causality for qualitative research. In N. Denzin (Ed.), Qualitative inquiry and the politics of evidence, pp. 163-181. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2008.
  • Entries for Explanation, Explanatory research, Theory, and Thick description (with Kavita Mittapalli). In Lisa Given (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2008.
  • Scientism. In William A. Darity, Jr. (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social sciences. 2nd ed., Vol. 7, pp. 364-365. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008.
  • Literature reviews of, and for, educational research: A response to Boote and Beile. Educational Researcher 35(9), 28-31 (December 2006).
  • Qualitative research methods for evaluating computer information systems, by Bonnie Kaplan and Joseph A Maxwell. In James Anderson and Carolyn Aydin (Eds.), Evaluating the organizational impact of health care information systems, second edition. New York: Springer, 2005.
  • Qualitative research design: An interactive approach, second edition. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2005.
  • Using qualitative methods for causal explanation. Field Methods 16(3), 243-264 (August 2004).
  • Causal explanation, qualitative research, and scientific inquiry in education. Educational Researcher 33(2), 3-11 (March 2004)
  • Re-emergent scientism, postmodernism, and dialogue across differences. Qualitative Inquiry 10, 35-41 (February 2004).
  • Mixed methods design: An alternative approach, by Joseph Maxwell and Diane Loomis. In Abbas Tashakkori and Charles Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mxed methods in social and behavioral research, pp. 241-271. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications, 2003.
A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research
Other Information
  • Recognized by the American Educational Research Association for "outstanding participation in reviewing submissions" for Educational Researcher (2002, 2007) and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis (2009).
Campus Affiliations