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Henry Ford Hospital Nursing Research Toolkit

This toolkit is a guide for investigators who are interested in planning, implementing, evaluating, and disseminating nursing research projects. Each of the grey tabs represents a page that can be printed.

Decide on a Research Method

Research methods are the strategies researchers use to  collect and analyze information relevant to research questions. Quantitative or qualitative research methods are used to answer research questions and often, researchers will use a combination of both methods. Links to related articles are listed within this section and at the end of the toolkit. 

Qualitative Method

A qualitative design is used when little is known about the topic of interest and researchers want to understand phenomena in depth as it relates to persons affected. The specific qualitative methodology is decided on initially, although researchers can make ongoing decisions about design as the study continues. Qualitative studies can involve the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods (i.e. mixed methods research).

Further Reading:

Mixed Methods

Combining quantitative and qualitative methods is called Mixed Methods Research, or Triangulation. Mixed Method research quantifies that data which is easily represented statistically but also explores the issues of interest in depth via qualitative methods.

Further Reading:

Quantitative Method

Quantitative researchers follow a series of steps from defining the problem, selecting concepts, and finding solutions to problems. In quantitative research, efforts are made to minimize bias, control extraneous variables, and enhance precision. The information obtained using quantitative methods is numeric or it's converted to numeric values and analyzed statistically. Because quantitative research reduces information to numbers, the complexities or depth of the human experience is difficult to capture.

Intervention studies (known as experimental research) are initiated when determining causality. For an intervention study there must be random assignment into an experimental group or a control group. There must also be an intervention. 

Further Reading:

Nonexperimental Research

In nonexperimental research, investigators collect data without an intervention. Some nonexperimental studies seek to identify relationships between variables. In medical and epidemiological research, a nonexperimental study is called an observation study.


Experimental Research

In experimental studies, researchers introduce an intervention or treatment and test whether an intervention caused changes in the dependent (outcome) variable. In medical and epidemiological research, an experimental study is usually called a clinical trial (a randomized controlled trial is a type of clinical trial).



In an intervention study, the independent variables are those variables that are under control of the investigator and the dependent variables are the outcomes that can be influenced by the independent variable. The investigator is looking to determine if a relationship exists--causal or predictive--between the variables. 

Further Reading: 

For more information on quantitative research refer to the linked articles below and the references on the Additional Reading page.