A good way to understand qualitative research in general is to begin with the philosophical bases that drive methodological practices (see first the entry for research). Qualitative researchers assume different epistemological and philosophical stances that influence their work. These include subjectivism, interpretivism, and constructivism. Qualitative work also may be guided by particular theoretical perspectives such as pragmatism; symbolic interaction; and deconstructionism; as well as by postmodernist, poststructuralist, feminist, critical, or participatory/action theories and worldviews. Common values include holism and contextualism.
More at: Qualitative research. (2010). In Dictionary of nursing theory and research. Retrieved from http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spnurthres/qualitative_research/
Although in isolation the term is not explicitly used very often, quantitative research is concerned with precise measurement, replicability, prediction, and control. It includes techniques and procedures such as standardized tests, random sampling and/or assignment, tests of statistical significance, and causal modeling. It may be preceded by descriptive pilot studies that are preliminary steps to a subsequent experimental or correlational study.
Quantitative studies have one or more of the following properties:
Adoption of the hypothesize–test–rehypothesize sequence that is characteristic of ‘the’ scientific
Emphasis upon structured and objective measuring
Extensive use of numbers to reflect the measurements and to summarize the
An emphasis on causality.
More at: Quantitative research. (2010). In Dictionary of nursing theory and research. Retrieved from http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/spnurthres/quantitative_research
|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 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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