Nursing Research: Types and Features

Table of Contents

Research Design

The nature of the nursing profession has long departed from merely following instructions to taking the lead and advancing the field. At that, nursing research has a profound effect on the present and future of the nursing practice. The importance of nursing research is hard to understate: it informs the day-to-day work and helps to translate the newest medical guideline into practice. Every nurse needs to be aware of study designs and other essential elements of research to be able to locate the most credible and reliable source used in the workplace. The purpose of this paper is to provide a summary of the two key research designs and discuss the importance of research sampling and the elements of credible nursing practice.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research design deals with objective, numerical data and uses statistical, mathematical, and computational methods. When done right, this type of research can provide reliable results that are devoid of unnecessary subjectivity (Grove & Gray, 2018). Besides, quantitative research is apt for approaching complex problems as it helps to confine the scope to a limited number of variables. One common type of quantitative research is descriptive: it describes the characteristics of the population or phenomenon that is being analyzed. This type of research does not seek to understand the relationships between variables, and it is mostly used as a basis for future research. Quantitative research is used to advance the nursing field as it helps to identify risk factors, understand the effects of treatment methods, and pinpoint the longstanding consequences of certain events.

Qualitative Research

As opposed to quantitative research, qualitative research relies on unstructured data. This type of research primarily seeks to understand the social world and concerns itself with opinions, feelings, and experiences (Houser, 2016). One common type of approach toward qualitative research is the narrative approach. It weaves together life events, stories, and experiences of a small number of people (typically, no more than two) to form a cohesive narration. The narrative approach is important for nursing as it helps to explore personal experiences beyond the limitations of a questionnaire. This qualitative approach and others provide insight into health workers’ and patients’ decision-making processes, attitudes toward health-related phenomena, and satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the state of the healthcare system.

Research Sampling

Generally, sampling can be defined as a process of gathering samples of something for analysis. Sampling is critical to the validity of nursing research because a poorly selected sample can misrepresent the studied population and skew the results (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber, 2017). One common type of sampling is quota sampling when a researcher needs to recruit a certain number of people that meet a predefined characteristic. For instance, a nurse can be asked to identify ten White and ten Black women to participate in research. Another type of sampling that is often used in research is convenience sampling when participants are recruited based on their proximity and accessibility.

Credible Nursing Practice

Among the advantages of research is its potential to make the nursing practice safer. Research helps to make work practices more efficient and ethical. For instance, new evidence might suggest that some of the work procedures are linked to a higher rate of hospital-acquired complications. In this case, nurses might want to adjust their work to minimize the risks. Research is the basis of evidence-based nursing practice as it provides necessary information and promotes critical thinking.


Grove, S. K., & Gray, J. R. (2018). Understanding nursing research e-book: Building an evidence-based practice. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Houser, J. (2016). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

LoBiondo-Wood, G., & Haber, J. (2017). Nursing research-E-book: methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice. Elsevier Health Sciences.

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