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The theoretical foundations of qualitative and quantitative methods of research are very different. Researchers suggest that both methods should be utilized to increase validity and reliability of research studies. Quantitative and qualitative research have each been utilized in the development of many evidence based protocols utilized today. This post is written with the intention of identifying the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing both methods. Combining the strength of both forms of research in triangulation, if time and money permit, is proposed as a valuable means of discovering the truth, if researchers limit themselves to one method of enquiry, restrictions might be place on the efficacy of the quality of research in the development of nursing knowledge (Car,1994).
Quantitative research is a formal, objective, rigorous, systematic process for generating numerical information about the world. Quantitative research is conducted to describe new situations, events or concepts; examine relationships among variables; and determine the effectiveness of treatments in the world (Grove, 2011). The advantages of quantitative research involve few variables and, in many cases, and employs prescribed procedures to ensure validity and reliability so research can be replicated and then analyzed and compared with similar studies (Grove,2011). Disadvantages of quantitative data analysis suggest a much narrower and sometimes superficial dataset, results are limited as they provide numerical description rather than detailed narrative and generally provide less elaborate accounts of human perception (Car, 1994).
Qualitative research is a systematic, subjective approach used to describe life experiences and give them meaning. Qualitative research is not a new idea in the social or behavioral sciences. The nursing profession’s interest in qualitative research began in the late 1970s and has continued to grow since that time (Grove, 2011). The advantages of qualitative research stem from an in-depth examination of a phenomena, use of subjective data, not limited to definable variables, examine complex questions that can be impossible with quantitative methods, deal with value-laden questions, explore new areas of research, build new theories. Qualitative data provide the human aspect of esearch (Car, 1994). The disadvantage of qualitative methodology, is the possible effect of the researchers’ presence on the people they are studying may distort findings (Car, 1994).
In conclusion combining qualitative and quantitative research are equally valuable in conducting nursing research. Both forms of research have been utilized in conducting nursing research that is accurate and transcends in the provision of research that has ultimately leads to positive patient outcomes.
Burns, N., Grove. (2011). Understanding Nursing Research, 5th Edition. [Pageburstl]. Retrieved from https://pageburstls.elsevier.com/#/books/978-1-4377-0750-2/
Car, U.R n. (n.d.). The strengths and weakness of quantitative and qualitative research. Retrieved 1994.