Nursing research has been a part of nursing practice for many years, consisting of both qualitative and quantitative research; it is essential in guiding nursing practice. Many nurses have a baseline understanding of research in general, but it is important for the researcher to understand their own values and beliefs when determining the type of research they will be performing. By understanding the differences between epistemology, methodology, and methods, the researcher can confidently conduct a valid research project.
Overview of Qualitative Research
Research is an essential tool in nursing practice; it been an important link in best nursing care since the days of Florence ...view middle of the document...
28). Every aspect of the research process is influenced by epistemology, it guides the researcher in justifying the research methods (Carter & Little, 2007; Kramer-Kile, 2012), as it is asking what is knowledge, and how can that knowledge be acquired.
Ontology is the question of the nature of the reality. It deals with what exists, and what the reality of the situation is currently, recognizing that reality can and will change. It assists in defining the views and assumptions of the researcher (Kramer-Kile, 2012).
The epistemology and ontology together guide the researcher towards the type of research they will conduct, and in turn determine the type of methodology and methods of the research (Carter & Little, 2007).
Qualitative research is concerned with meanings of experiences and interactions. Qualitative research is very common in the social sciences, although it is often used in market research as well (Alasuutari, 2010; Nieswiadomy, 2011). There has been quite a rise in qualitative research in the last 30 years. It first started to emerge in journals in the 1960’s, and an increase in the number of qualitative research can be seen in research journals in the 1980’s (Alasuutari, 2010). Instead of looking at the statistical numbers within research, the researcher in interested in getting within the research, and understanding the phenomenon (Leedy, 2011; LoBionod-Wood & Haber, 2013).
Within qualitative research, the question emerges from the research process. The focus changes and evolves as the researcher experiences and understands the phenomenon under study (Carter & Little, 2007; Farrelly, 2013; Leedy, 2011). Often within qualitative research, the study samples are very small. The goal is to obtain rich data, that is a broad overview, not data that is statistically representative (Carter & Little, 2007; Leedy, 2011).
In contrast, quantitative research involves a theory, prediction or hypothesis, that must be tested (Leedy, 2011). The principle idea is that data is generalized, reported by statistics and numbers, and the results can be reproduced (Leedy, 2011, LoBionod-Wood & Haber, 2013). When conducting quantitative research, strict measures are in place to avoid bias, and the belief is that the researcher can and should interpret the information without influencing it (Farrelly, 2013).
An example of the difference between the two, with quantitative research looking at the “what, and qualitative studying the “why”, could be seen in a case example of a new oncology treatment. A quantitative researcher would be interested in examining the number and severity of the side effects of the treatment, while a qualitative researcher would be more interested in examining the patient’s quality of life in relation to the experienced side effects. The quantitative researcher would have a large, randomized control study, while the qualitative researcher would have a small sample size. The choice of type of research to conduct...