Qualitative and Quantitative Research Approaches

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Approaches


The qualitative research approach is a type of research which focuses on the analysis of non-numerical data. This research approach is best used in social sciences, and the interpretation of non-numerical data helps the researcher to create an understanding of social life. A specific population or place is usually targeted in this research.

On the contrary, a quantitative research approach deals with numerical data. The research approach helps to point out some trends through statistical analysis such as correlation(Speziale, Streubert, & Carpenter, 2011). This paper describes the diverse methods used under qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

Steps in a qualitative research approach

An essential component of any research is the identification of the research gap. This research gap must first be identified in qualitative research. Research questions are therefore developed as the first step in conducting quantitative research to reflect the research gaps one is addressing. The next step is preparing the study design. The study design will guide the most important component of the research including the participants/subjects, the time of the study and how the study will be performed. Data collection approaches are also defined in the study design. The third step involves the collection of data for the study(Miller, 2010).

Data collection in qualitative studies is usually unobstructed implying that qualitative research does not modify the study subject. Observation is the primary approach used to collect data in such a study. Other approaches used in data collection include surveys, focus groups, interviews, oral history,content analysis, and ethnographic analysis. The fourth step is to perform data analysis. This step helps the researcher to make sense of the data and present it in a simple and easy to understand way(Speziale et al., 2011). Data collected in qualitative research must be analyzed so that it can be used to answer the research questions. The fifth step involves generation of research finding. Findings are generated from the analyzed data and validated before the information generated by the research is disseminated inform of reports or published research papers.

Steps in a quantitative research approach

Quantitative research is more deductive and starts with the theory to establish the relationship between theory and research. The theoretical background of qualitative research is very crucial in the sense that it helps one to identify the existing research gaps as well as set hypotheses for the study. The second step is the hypotheses which are statements which will be proved right or nullified by the outcomes of the research. Hypothesis testing is the center of all qualitative research approaches. Designing the research is the next step which involves the determination of the research subjects, treatments on the subjects, the population to target and the variables to consider in the study. Once the research design has been implemented, the operationalization of concepts follows. Data is then collected using various scientific approaches such as testing. Data collection involves real research protocols such as laboratory tests(Miller, 2010).

Data is usually generated in terms of continuous variables. Once enough data has been gathered, the next step is processing of the collected data. This step involves statistical analysis approaches that deal with numerical values. Data processing and analysis is followed by reporting of the study findings which can be through publishing research articles or presentation of the results in seminars and conferences.

The significant differences that occur between the qualitative and quantitative research are that qualitative uses non-numerical values while quantitative research approach applies numerical measures. The difference in the type of data obtained through the two research approaches defines the different statistical approaches used in data analysis.  Both qualitative and quantitative research approaches bear important application in advanced practice nurse practice. Most importantly, these research approaches provide concrete evidence upon which life determining clinical decision are made. These are methods of inquiry which enable the advanced practice nurse to draw important conclusions which support service delivery to patient. Moreover, the research approaches facilitate evidence-based nursing practice(Miller, 2010).



Miller, W. R. (2010). Qualitative research findings as evidence: utility in nursing practice. Clinical Nurse Specialist CNS, 24(4), 191–193. https://doi.org/10.1097/NUR.0b013e3181e36087

Speziale, H. S., Streubert, H. J., & Carpenter, D. R. (2011). Qualitative research in nursing: Advancing the humanistic imperative. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.



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