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DNP Scholarly Project

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research contains data about quality and human behavior.  The data is usually gathered through interviews and observation.

Visit the Qualitative Research Topic Page in Credo Reference for more information.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research contains data about quantity or numbers.  The data can be measured and statistically processed.

Visit the Quantitative Research Topic Page in Credo Reference for more information.

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Video

Differences Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Qualitative Quantitative
Emphasis on understanding human behavior and presenting finding through words instead of numbers Emphasis on the measurement and relationships through variables 

Broadly worded aim, often including the word "explore," requiring a descriptive approach to answer it using the views, experiences, descriptions from individuals in their own words, or direct observational descriptions from the researcher

Narrowly worded aim that requires numeric data to answer it.  The emphasis is on objectivity and measurable outcomes that can be statistically processed

Early use of literature avoided so ideas and analysis are not influenced by previous studies.  Literature is reviewed and used once analysis has taken place to support or contrast with current findings

Early in-depth use of the literature to influence direction and content of the study
Use of smaller samples providing in-depth data from which greater understanding can emerge from the analysis of the findings Use of large sample sizes to ensure results can be generalized 
Use of induction as a way of analysis, starting with the findings, and then constructing a theory that may explain the findings Use of deduction as a way of analysis, starting with a theory and establishing the truth of this through the collection of data
Central focus on being able to understand and gain insights from the data.  Although the purpose is not to generalize from the results in detail, there is an intention that the general principles emerging from finding may have some transferability to other locations Central focus on being able to generalize from the data and apply to other like situations

Table adapted from page 57 of Nursing and Healthcare Research at a Glance.


Meta-Analysis, Meta-Synthesis, and Mixed Method Reviews

Meta-analysis is a quantitative method that uses and synthesizes data from multiple individual studies to arrive at one or more conclusions.  Meta-synthesis is another method that analyzes and combines data from multiple qualitative studies.  Mixed method reviews include data from various qualitative and quantitative research studies. 

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