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Quantitative research is used to generate numerical data or data that can be converted into numbers. Study types that are used in the health field include:
Case report or case series - a report on one or more individual patients. There is no "control group" so this study type is considered to have low statistical validity
Case control study - this studies patients with a particular outcome (cases) and control patients without the outcome. Is useful in aetiology (causation) research but prone to causation error
Cohort study – identifies and follows two groups (cohorts) of patients, one having received the intervention being studied, and one having not. Useful in both aetiology and prognosis research. Because the groups are not randomised, they may differ in ways other than in the variable under study
Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) - a clinical trial in which participants are randomly allocated to a test treatment and a control. This is considered the “gold standard” in testing the efficacy of an intervention. RCTs include methodologies - randomisation and blinding - that reduce the potential for bias and provide good evidence for cause and effect.
Qualitative research is used to explore and understand people's beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behaviour and interactions. It generates descriptive, non-numerical data. Qualitative research methods include:
Documents - the study of documentary accounts of events, such as minutes of meetings
Passive observation - the systematic watching and recording of behaviour
Participant observation – here, the researcher also occupies a role or part in the setting, in addition to observing
In-depth interview - a face-to-face conversation to explore issues or topics in detail
Focus group - method of group interview which explicitly includes and uses the group interaction to generate data.
A research study does not have to be exclusively quantitative or qualitative. Many studies will use a combination of both types of research.
In the Dictionary of Statistics and Methodology, Mixed-Method Research is defined as:
"Inquiry that combines two or more methods. This particular term usually refers to mixing that crosses the quantitative-qualitative boundary. However, that boundary is not necessarily the most difficult one to cross. For example, mixing surveys and experiments (both quantitative methods) may require more effort for many researchers than combining surveys and focus groups (the first quantitative and the second qualitative)."
SRMO is an online research tool which assists in the understanding of research methods and in the actual selection, design, and application of a research method. It contains full-text content from books, journals, and reference resources.
This resource should be of interest to anyone involved in any form of qualitative or quantitative research. It assists in the understanding of research methods and in the actual selection, design, and application of a research method.
Content is sourced from book and reference material on research materials, together with editorially selected material from SAGE journals. More than 120,000 pages of SAGE's book and reference material on research methods are available.
Searching and browsing features include:
* a browsing tool to allow users to explore related material hosted within the product;
* a visual "methods map" exploring connections between more than 2,000 methods, theories, and terms;
* the "SRMO lists" function, which enables users to store and share selected content;
* links to Web Resources.