Skip to Main Content

Nursing (MSN, DNP & Post Masters)

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Video

Qualitative Research

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 pragmatismsymbolic interaction; and deconstructionism; as well as by postmodernistpoststructuralistfeministcritical, 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

Quantitative 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:

  1. Adoption of the hypothesize–test–rehypothesize sequence that is characteristic of ‘the’ scientific

  2. Emphasis upon structured and objective measuring

  3. Extensive use of numbers to reflect the measurements and to summarize the

  4. An emphasis on causality.

More at:  Quantitative research. (2010). In Dictionary of nursing theory and research. Retrieved from

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. 

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice | Federal Disclosures | State Disclosures | Title IXAccreditation

Student Consumer Information | BPPE Annual Report & Performance Fact Sheets | BPPE Website | Catalog | Careers With Us

West Coast University © 2024 All Rights Reserved