Posted: April 21st, 2022
Last week we explored qualitative research methods which relies on non numerical data from observation, one to one or focus group interviews, and open ended questionnaires to answer questions and identify gaps. Quantitative research uses quantifiable and numerical data in its analysis to generate knowledge and expand evidence based information. When determining a research question for a quantitative methodology, the problem and question should address the systematic investigation of a phenomenon using statistical or numerical data that can be measured (Watson, 2015). Quantitative research gathers measureable data to analyse for relationships and to test the research question. The question and problem must be measureable and specific. The research problem leads the researcher to formulate a theory and hypothesis which is augmented by using a PICO or PICOT type of process to ensure the question is specific and targeted. A review of literature identifies gaps in knowledge and highlights what is already known about the phenomenon under investigation. Quantitative research differs from qualitative research in its design, and the design is what is used to accomplish the purpose of the study. There are two general categories of study designs in quantitative research: descriptive studies and evaluative studies (those that evaluate whether an intervention is effective at achieving the outcome) (Mateo & Foreman, 2013). The latter group includes observational studies, quasi experimental studies, and experimental studies. The sample selection is influenced by the researcher determining inclusion and exclusion criteria for the study participants. To ensure a reduction in bias and generalizability, a sample can be randomized. This is not always practical or an option in some studies and in these cases the sample can be homogenous and non randomly assigned to groups that are controlled or experiencing the variable/intervention (Mateo & Foreman, 2013).
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