When engaging with nursing research, whether it is for your job or for your degree, it is important to examine the different types of research that you could possibly use in detail to ensure that you fully understand the various areas of research that you may be involved in or may want to be involved in. It should also be noted that there are a variety of different types of research, some of which aren’t mentioned here. Research for any subject, particularly nursing, is a vast field and it would be impossible to include all research techniques and types. However, the types that this article focuses on are the most popular types of research you will likely use when you come to do your own research.
- Quantitative Research. Quantitative Research is a method of research by which you measure data through mathematical and scientific means of calculating data. This shouldn’t put you off using it – the methods to Quantitative Research aren’t necessarily overtly scientific or complicated. You can use a variety of different research techniques to gather quantitative data that you can then use to display certain results. For instance, if you wanted to know whether a particular drug was as effective as it could be you would construct a survey with closed questions which would give you some raw data from other healthcare professionals as to the reliability of the drug and how it impacts on the patients that it is being given to. You could then turn these responses into a pie chart or whatever representation of the data you wanted to show the impact of the drug in terms of percentages and how effective it was based on that. Of course, this sort of evidence would not give you descriptions of any possible after effects of the drug or any detailed description of how patients feel about it – you would gain that sort of information through Qualitative Research. Quantitative Research is excellent for finding out the specific percentages for a drug’s effectiveness and for then being able to determine how the drug can be used in the field, what sort of demand it may have and whether it should be provided on prescription or not. This, of course, can be found out through Qualitative Research which would give you more detailed opinions from doctors and patients. The possible failings of Quantitative Research are also part of its success are that it allows you, as a nurse, to be able to fully understand the situations you are likely to face once you are qualified. It also ensures that when you have finished your dissertation you are aware of how drugs are used in real world scenarios and that you can properly deal with them. This is why knowing how to do proper research into nursing is an invaluable skill which will serve you well during your career.
- Qualitative Research. Qualitative Research, as opposed to Quantitative Research, allows you to get much more personal information. This will allow you to find out first-hand how patients respond to particular drugs or certain forms of treatment and how to deal with patients in such situation. As such, this type of research, whilst not giving you statistical specifics will give you invaluable research which will allow you to know what works and what doesn’t from people who are actually experiencing the issues you will be dealing with. This sort of knowledge is invaluable as nursing is about being able to communicate with the patient and ensure that they are comfortable, and you are helping them to get better. If you can put a face to the diagnosis or treatment, then this will allow you to empathise more and will help you to improve your skills as a nurse. Whilst this type of research is important to include in a dissertation or in a general piece of research, it is also important to understand that you must try to keep cool and realistic. Whilst Qualitative Research is important for ensuring you have detailed responses regarding particular drugs or treatments, it can also be seen as somewhat anecdotal evidence. Whilst Quantitative Research will not necessarily give you details it will give you solid facts, whereas Qualitative Research can only give you examples that also contain information that may not be relevant to what you want to know. As such, it can be difficult to find out what exactly the patient or doctor is expressing if they are also including information that is not directly relevant to what you want to know. It is therefore perhaps preferable that you attempt to use a mix of Qualitative and Quantitative Research to ensure that you have a full picture of what you are investigating; hard. In other words, factual evidence alongside more anecdotal and specific evidence.
- Randomised Control Trials. This particular sort of research is, unlike Quantitative and Qualitative much more associated with nursing and medical research in general. A Randomised Control Trial allows the research to put chance into the mix of circumstances to allow their research to be as dynamic as possible. The research randomly selects patients who will undergo the treatment that is being tested and select those patients who will undergo regular treatment or be given placebo treatment. This allows the research to potentially eliminate any selection bias and examine the results of the treatment without any fear of contamination of the data. This type of research is more often used in treatment in hospitals rather than if you were doing a nursing degree, however it can be useful for demonstrating that you understand real life nursing research and that you can operate in the real world of nursing as effectively as you can when you are studying the subject. However, it is advisable that you stick to more conventional forms of research such as using Quantitative Research, Qualitative Research or a mixture of the two.