The Quantitative Research Process

Readings and Overview

Topic 1
Importance to Nursing

Topic 2
Defining the terms

Topic 3
The research setting

Topic 4
The research process

Topic 5
Pilot study

Topic 6
Research reports

Topic 7
Research critique

Topic 8
Critique phases

Web Assignment





The quantitative research process

   Objective 4: Describe the steps of the quantitative research process and identify them in an article.

This is a brief introduction to the steps of the quantitative research process. A more in-depth presentation of each of these steps provides the focus for the rest of this course and the text.

The steps of the research process provide the framework for reporting research results in a research article or report. These steps are very similar to the steps in problem solving and the nursing process, just more formal and more extensive.

  • Research problem and purpose
    • The research problem identifies gaps in knowledge for nursing practice.
    • The research purpose is constructed from the research problem and identifies the specific goal or aim of the research.

  • Literature review - This is a critical summary of relevant research on the topic of interest. Through the literature review what is known and not known about a topic is synthesized, and any gaps in knowledge are identified.
  • Study framework - The framework is the theoretical or conceptual basis for a study that guides how the study is developed and how the study and the findings will be linked to nursing practice.
  • Research objectives, questions, or hypotheses - These vary in their specificity, link the research purpose to the study design, and direct the development of the study design, analysis of the data, and interpretation of the findings.
  • Study variables - These are characteristics or attributes of a person or object that take on different values (vary) within the population under study. The variables are conceptualized at different levels of abstraction and are measured, manipulated, or controlled in the study.
    • Conceptual definition - The definition of a variable that is abstract or theoretical. It cannot be measured directly.
    • Operational definition - The description of how the variable will be measured in the study. The operational definition is the measure that is chosen to represent or be the proxy for the conceptual definition.

  • Assumptions - Assumptions represent basic principles that are accepted as being true without any proof or verification. Most studies do not identify assumptions; they often must be discovered through inference.
  • Limitations - These represent factors that limit the relevance of the study in certain populations and circumstances. Limitations may be theoretical or methodological but are often attributed to lack of control.
  • Research design - This is the blueprint for conducting the study that has the purpose of providing maximum control over extraneous variables and other factors that could influence the results.
  • Population and sample - The population is all the people, factors, etc., that meet criteria for being in the study. The sample is a portion of the population that is selected to participate in the study.
  • Measurement methods - This represents assigning numbers to the variables so they can be quantified, or counted.
  • Data collection - This represents the process of gathering information on the variables under study.
  • Data analyses - Through data analyses the quantified data are reduced and organized to answer the study objectives, questions, or hypotheses.
  • Research outcomes - This includes the interpretation of the data analysis as the results or findings, whether the results can be applied to similar populations, the implications for nursing and nursing research, and suggestions for future research.
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