Research Methods Used in the Medical Field
Any researcher must use specific research methods to structure a study and gather and analyze the information relevant to the study. A researcher typically would use a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed version of both research methods. The usage of the quantitative research method usually entails strict following of a plan of the study and gathering empirical evidence – that is, numeric information analyzed with statistical procedures (Polit & Beck, 2022). In contrast, despite having a plan, the qualitative method does not always follow it; the plan can be changed in the middle of the research. The qualitative method typically collects information and its analysis concurrently in the field (Polit & Beck, 2022). Another difference between quantitative and qualitative methods is that the former often seeks a definite answer to one predetermined question, whether the latter might change the question or raise new questions while conducting the study (Polit & Beck, 2022). The mixed research method has become more common in the last decade. This method uses the techniques of quantitative and qualitative types that complement each other, reviewing the whole picture of the study and increasing the validity of the results.
Between the experimental and non-experimental types of research in the medical field, non-experimental is more common. The main difference between these two types is the ability to create and manipulate the conditions affecting the study subjects. Although experimental studies tend to be more precise than non-experimental because they offer greater control over confounding influences, they cannot find an answer to every research question in the medical field (Polit & Beck, 2022). That is due to the fact that manipulating subjects for research purposes can sometimes be unethical or even illegal. Providing one group with a specific treatment and withholding it from the other is an example of unethical research (Bülow et al., 2020). In the non-experimental type of study, researchers are bystanders; they collect already existing data. Since many variables cannot be manipulated for technical or ethical reasons, the non-experimental approach is more common in the medical field.
Quantitative research is a lineal study that moves sequentially from one phase to another, following specific steps. During the first phase, the researcher builds the concept of the study, reviews the related literature, and formulates a hypothesis. The second phase includes selecting a research design and planning. The next phase directly involves collecting the data and its preparation for analysis, which takes place in the fourth phase of the study. The last, fifth phase requires the researcher to communicate the result and propose its utilization in practice.
A qualitative research process is not as linear and direct as a quantitative one. It usually begins with a broad research question to allow the focus of the study to be outlined more clearly when the study is underway. The following of this step usually involves developing the strategies for collecting data. Collected data is then typically analyzed; however, due to the flexible approach of qualitative research, the researcher can make further decisions based on the interpretation of the data. The flow of activities is not precise; it changes depending on the study. The end results are communicated and utilized or recommended for utilization in practice, like quantitative research.
Based on the process for conducting both quantitative and qualitative types of research, the latter can be considered the most challenging. Due to the fact that most quantitative studies seek to answer one defined research question, the flow of the study is steady and fixed. A qualitative approach requires more time and consideration to achieve desired results and validation, making it more challenging than following the preplanned steps of a quantitative research method.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2022). Essentials of nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.
Bülow, W., Godskesen, T. E., Helgesson, G., & Eriksson, S. (2020). Why unethical papers should be retracted. Journal of Medical Ethics. Web.