Differentiating Between Quantitative And Qualitative
Qualitative and quantitative research are two major categories of research, and both are important for obtaining different types of knowledge. However, the type of research that researchers choose to use depends on whether they want to test a hypothesis or just want to explore ideas, meanings, or thoughts. Qualitative research focuses on things that are up for debate and uses surveys, interviews, and observations to look at certain areas, such as religion and ethnicity. Quantitative research, on the other hand, aims to definitively prove something that is not up for discussion or debate and looks at things that are facts. Words are used to express qualitative research, and more open-ended questions are asked. Furthermore, the questions asked in a qualitative study do not necessarily have a hypothesis because the purpose of the study is not to predict anything but to better understand the society around us. In quantitative research, researchers use statistics and numbers to express this type of research. For example, they may use surveys, experiments, and observations. In addition, quantitative research looks at variables to prove or disprove a hypothesis, and it asks closed-ended questions such as what and how.
In a qualitative study, the researcher is usually the primary instrument for collecting data, and if researcher bias is not addressed adequately or there are errors in judgment, subsequent research results and the quality of data can be affected (Johnson et al., 2020). Therefore, the application of rigor is necessary to avoid researcher bias or errors in judgment in a qualitative research design. There are four qualitative research methods that are commonly used, and they are ethnography, grounded theory, phenomenology, and case study (Lobiondo-Wood & Haber, 2018). Ethnography involves researchers directly observing the study participants in their real environment for extended periods, and its goal is to understand the research population’s behaviors and meanings (Sawatsky et al., 2019). Grounded theory uses face-to-face interviews with participants and focus groups to interact with them and explore a specific research phenomenon, and its goal is to construct a theory from systematically obtained and analyzed data (Lobiondo-Wood & Haber, 2018). Phenomenology focuses on understanding how human beings experience the world (Sawatsky et al., 2019). A case study involves a detailed investigation of a specific case or cases and includes qualitative and/or quantitative data (Lobiondo-Wood & Haber, 2018).
Quantitative research looks more into things that are concrete to prove or disprove its hypothesis, and there is a great amount of data available for quantitative research. A quantitative research design can be categorized as experimental, quasi-experimental, or descriptive non-experimental. In an experiment, the participants are randomly assigned to the treatment or control group, and the researcher manipulates the independent variable to measure the outcome. In a quasi-experiment, participants are not randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. In a descriptive non-experiment, the researcher describes a phenomenon as it stands or describes the relationship between two or more variables without the researcher interfering.
Qualitative research has some advantages over quantitative research and can be beneficial to advanced practice nurses in their healthcare settings. However, researchers using qualitative research may need to change things throughout the study if they are not receiving enough responses in an area. This is one of the disadvantages of this type of study, and it can get very expensive if it involves hundreds of participants. However, the qualitative research method allows researchers to have a better understanding of participant’s experiences as well as allows researchers to explore how decisions are made.
Johnson, J. L., Adkins, D., & Chauvin, S. (2020). A Review of the quality indicators of rigor in qualitative research. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 84(1), 138–146. https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe7120
Lobiondo-Wood, G. & Haber, J. (2018). Nursing research: Methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice (9th ed.). Elsevier.
Sawatsky, A. P., Ratelle, J. T., Beckman, T. J. (2019). Qualitative research methods in medical education. Anesthesiology, 131, 14–22. https://doi.org/10.1097/ALN.0000000000002728
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What is the difference between qualitative and quantitative research methods? Give an example of each.
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