Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

How Does a Research Problem/Question Guide the Determination to Conduct a Quantitative versus a Qualitative Research Study?

The description of a specific research problem or how a research question is formulated defines the selection of the study design since the nature of the analysis is encoded in the research question or the problem statement. The specified distinction is especially evident in nursing, where the qualitative aspects of research can be identified in a special or open question. A general question, in turn, is likely to refer to a quantitative analysis since it implies either confirming or subverting a particular statement or hypothesis. Put differently, both a research question and a problem statement define the perspective from which a certain research issue is explored. Thus, how a research problem or question is put defines the study method.

Discuss the Value of Using a Conceptual Framework or Theory (Grand or Mid-Range) to Guide a Quantitative Research Study. Address the Debate of the Appropriateness Of Using a Conceptual Framework or Theory to Guide a Qualitative Research Study

In research, the application of a theoretical framework is another important step needed to explore a particular problem in-depth and produce the required outcome. In essence, research is expected to add to the existing theory, expanding and enriching it with new elements, ideas, and notions. Therefore, a conceptual theory or framework helps determine the course of the analysis and the approach from which a particular phenomenon will be explored. Furthermore, the adoption of a certain conceptual framework or theory helps contextualize the outcomes of the analysis (Polit, 2017). Therefore, the integration of a theoretical framework into research is critical to the results of the study and their implications for nursing practice.

What Specific Types of Research Designs Are Used in Quantitative Research? What Specific Types of Designs Are Used in Qualitative Research?

Both qualitative and quantitative research types incorporate a wide array of research methods that allow meeting specific goals set in a study. However, qualitative and quantitative approaches imply adopting different research designs. Traditionally, research designs are characterized as either experimental or non-experimental ones. As a rule, for a qualitative study, one may choose phenomenology as an exploration of a certain phenomenon, grounded theory, which implies designing a theory within a study, and similar types of analysis. Quantitative research, in turn, may imply using a case study approach, as well as an experimental, quasi-experimental, or correlational design. Each research method allows addressing a particular goal such as comparing several types of data or locating a connection between specific concepts.

What Are Differences in Determining Sample Size Between Quantitative and Qualitative Research Studies?

When conducting qualitative analysis, one would typically select a rather large sample size to represent the existing phenomenon fully. In a qualitative study, the sample size is typically smaller than in a qualitative one, which is necessary for conducting a statistical analysis. However, the specified characteristic of sample size in a quantitative study creates the probability of a research bias due to possible underrepresentation. The imbalances caused by a small sample size can be addressed by using simple randomization to increase the probability of including diverse elements in it (Polit, 2017). Nevertheless, the small sample size can be regarded as a common problem of quantitative studies.

Discuss the Difference in Methods of Data Analysis for Quantitative Research versus Qualitative Research Studies

Unlike qualitative studies, which focus primarily on exploring the nature of a particular phenomenon or locating other qualitative characteristics of research variables, quantitative studies require statistical analysis. Therefore, the methods of analyzing collected information for qualitative research are also quite different from a quantitative one.

Specifically, descriptive, inferential, and multivariate statistics are used in quantitative studies to determine the variance between variables, their distribution, and other characteristics that allow proving a hypothesis either right or wrong. In qualitative research, analytical tools include coding and decoding, as well as qualitative content analysis (Polit, 2017). Therefore, quantitative analysis tools focus on identifying the quantitative correlation between the selected variables, whereas qualitative analysis requires determining the qualitative connection between them.

Discuss Methods of Insuring Scientific Rigor in Quantitative Research Studies versus Qualitative Research Studies

The concept of scientific rigor is rather complex. According to the existing definition, scientific rigor not only informs nurses about the possible choice in managing patients’ needs but also inspires them to incorporate research evidence in their decision-making (Polit, 2017). Therefore, in quantitative research, scientific rigor can be observed if the study delivers the results that can be applied to a specific setting to resolve a complex problem. In a qualitative study, scientific rigor allows making decisions related to the enhancement of patients’ well-being in the clinical setting.

There are arguments concerning whether a qualitative study can produce scientific rigor. The reasons for the doubts regarding the rigorousness of qualitative research are understandable since measuring qualitative outcomes is more difficult than quantitative ones. However, qualitative studies also provide an in-depth analysis of specific problems and offer a profound exploration of specific issues, notions, and phenomena. Therefore, their capability of producing scientific rigor should not be doubted.

Discuss the Difference in Generalizability of Quantitative versus Qualitative Research

Another important aspect of research is its generalizability, which can be defined as the ability to apply study outcomes to a very diverse population (Polit, 2017). Typically, quantitative studies have a higher level of generalizability than qualitative ones since a large sample allows for broad statements concerning a specific problem. However, the ability to locate a paradigm when conducting a qualitative analysis helps improve the levels of generalizability, thus making a qualitative study applicable to different settings. Therefore, generalizability in research depends not only on the sample size but also on the opportunity for determining a tendency in the collected data.


Polit, D. F. (2017). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.