A mixed methods research design for bridging the gap between research and practice in construction safety

Patrick ZOU, Riza Yosia Sunindijo, Andrew Dainty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)


    One perspective on construction safety practice and knowledge sees them as mutually constituted and intertwined. As such, it is important that construction safety research generates knowledge and understanding which is closely connected with safe working practices across contexts. This paper reviews the construction safety literature in order to explore the extent to which the knowledge generated by research considers the situated nature of safety learning and, therefore, addresses the needs of industry practice. The research methods adopted in 88 construction safety articles published by five highly-ranked international journals and one international conference proceedings were evaluated. The analytical results show that nearly half (43.2%) of the safety papers used quantitative methods while about a quarter (23.9%) applied qualitative methods and very few (9.1%) adopted mixed methods research. The remainder was review or conceptual papers. The implications of the research methods adopted in the 88 papers are discussed in terms of their relationship with the kinds of safety knowledge, safety learning processes, and safety management practices that they inform and/or generate. It is argued that a greater use of mixed methods research might act to better integrate the realms of theory and practice by enabling the co-production of safety theories and knowledge between university researchers and industry practitioners. The research design proposed in this paper provides a framework as a point of departure for academic researchers and industry practitioners to work together to improve construction safety performance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)316-326
    Number of pages11
    JournalSafety Science
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


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