A research design is “the overall plan for answering research questions and hypotheses, and it entails the approaches used in gathering data” (Cantrell, 2011, p. 188). Quantitative and qualitative approaches are the main means of collecting data. When a research design uses the two approaches, then the approach is referred to as a mixed approach. This paper aims at comparing two research strategies to show the most credible approach.
Comparison of the Two Research Approaches
The two research articles revealed different findings. While the article by Houlihan (2001) indicated that there was a difference in the roles of nurse practitioners and physicians, the article by Mundinger et al. (2000) indicated that there was no significant difference in the functions of physicians and nurse practitioners. Houlihan (2001) used an experimental design that entailed the use of quantitative data while Mundinger (2000) used a comparative design that entailed the use of both qualitative and quantitative data.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Two Methods
Mundinger et al. (2000) used a randomized clinical trial for their study. According to Metheny, Davis-Jackson & Stewart (2010), randomization is more accurate and without bias compared to other methods such as nonequivalent control designs. An example of the latter is used by Houlihan (2001) and also used by Padula, Hughes & Baumhover (2009). The research instruments used to collect information were valid and relevant to the objectives of the study in the two research studies (Schultz, Rivers & Ratusnik, 2008).
The RCT (Mundinger, 2000) appropriately determined the sample size used using statistical power (Polit & Beck, 2008) while Houlihan (2001) has not indicated how she obtained her sample size. In addition, the strategies used to obtain data are not credible. In the study by Houlihan (2001), the researchers emailed questionnaires, encompassing a copy of the informed consent to the respondents.
Hence, anyone other than the physician could have filled in the questionnaire because there is no assurance that the information came from the physicians. In comparison, Mundinger et al.’s (2000) study indicate that the researchers met with the patients, and there is assurance information was obtained from them.
Based on the two research approaches analyzed, seemingly, qualitative research is not real science after all. The methodology and research procedures used indicate this (Cantrell, 2011). Quantitative data allow the use of statistical analysis, which is a scientific approach, to aid in the presentation of findings. On the other hand, a qualitative study entails the arrangement of verbatim from respondents into themes, an approach that does not have a scientific ground.
Houlihan (2000, p. 788-789) has briefly given some themes to justify quantitative data obtained on the significant difference in perceptions between the two health care providers. In addition, qualitative research is more subjective than objective because it relies on the opinions and views of individuals in comparison to quantitative research that purely relies on facts.
The kind of research approach a researcher uses is very important in determining the credibility of the study results. Experimental designs, and especially randomized controlled trials, following Metheny, Davis-Jackson & Stewart (2010), are the most valid and reliable research designs because the research strategies used are credible.
In comparison to similar experimental studies, for example by Yuan et al. (2009), RCT ensures randomization of clients into either control or experimental group. An evaluation of both studies under critique follows that the RCT by Mundinger et al. (2000) produces valid and reliable results as opposed to that by Houlihan (2001).
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