The research approach chosen is determined by which research questions are being investigated. There are two main approaches to doing research: quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative method involves the use of a “rigorous and controlled design to examine phenomena using precise measurement” (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018, p. 209). In contrast, qualitative research uses a more flexible design to generate rich, in-depth data (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). The main difference between the two methods is that they are used to investigate different research questions. Quantitative methods aim at collecting numerical data through standardized questionnaires in a highly-structured environment. This approach is suitable for investigating an insufficiently studied or new area and also requires the development of a hypothesis. Qualitative methods, in turn, use open-ended questions and interviews and involve seven structured environments. This approach is mainly used to deepen knowledge in a specific area or to consider a specific aspect of a topic.
Currently, the third research approach, mixed methods, is gaining popularity in academia. This method involves the use of quantitative and qualitative research methods within one study (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). Thus, the approach uses both numerical and narrative data to investigate a research question. Ingham-Broomfield (2016) underlines that mix-methods offer “a richer explanation than a single use of either qualitative or quantitative methods as it can draw on the strength of each approach and overcome their weaknesses” (p. 47). Therefore, this approach has a higher validity and allows you to explore topics with a broader focus and scope.
Clinical nursing practice requires the use of high-quality data in research. The evidence-based practice focuses on clinical change that has an impact on patient outcomes and the quality of care in general. Melnyk (2016) argues that nursing practice and research need to consider not only the level of evidence but also its quality. One of the criteria for assessing the quality of data presented in research papers is the question, “Are the results of the review valid?” (Melnyk, 2016, p. 338). In considering the quality of research for evidence-based practice, it is important to evaluate what methods are used to collect and analyze the data. As noted, mix-methods offer higher validity of results compared to using only quantitative or qualitative methods. Thus, concerning the clinical setting, the assessment of the quality of the evidence used should also include an evaluation of the methods for obtaining it. Melnyk (2016) also notes that most research in the nursing field uses qualitative data. In this case, nurses can use mix-methods to obtain more valid data, as well as to expand the scope of their research.
When choosing primary sources for a literature review, the first four levels of evidence are appropriate. The selection criteria are the availability of a comprehensive description of the research design and its methodology, descriptions of research participants, and an assessment of the validity of the chosen methods. When writing a literature review, it is also important to assess how relevant information can be presented in it, as well as whether it will be useful for clinical practice and the development of knowledge in the field of nursing.
The most important criteria for consideration to support evidence-based project intervention relate to the clinical utility of the research. When designing an intervention, it is important to consider how relevant the results are to clinical practice and what issues they could potentially target. Evidence-based practice involves the collection and careful analysis of data that would describe the existing situation as accurately as possible. Thus, when designing a project, it is critically important to assess its validity and relevance within the framework of the study.
Ingham-Broomfield, R. (2016). A nurse’s guide to mixed methods research. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 33(4), 46-52.
Melnyk, B. M. (2016). Level of evidence plus critical appraisal of its quality yields confidence to implement evidence-based practice changes. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 13(5), 337-339.
Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 45(2), 209-213.