Qualitative Research Essay Example & Outline

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Comparing Three Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a systematic subjective approach to research used to describe life experiences and give them meaning. There are six common qualitative research designs, that is, phenomenological, grounded theory, ethnographic, historical, action research and case study. Three of these designs will be discussed in this paper.

1. Phenomenological Studies

Phenomenological studies are an examination of human experiences through descriptions that are provided by the persons involved. Such experiences are called lived experiences. The main aim of phenomenological studies is to give a description of the meaning that experiences hold for each subject under study. This type of research method is used in the study of areas in which there is little knowledge available. In phenomenological research, the respondents are asked to give a description of their experiences as they perceive them. They may write about their experiences; however, information is generally obtained through interviewing them.

To gain an understanding of the lived experience from the vantage point of the subject, the person conducting the research has to take into account their own feeling and beliefs. The researchers have first to identify what they expect to discover and then deliberately put aside these ideas of their own. This process is called bracketing. Only when the researchers disregard, their own ideas about the phenomenon under study it is possible to see the experience from the eyes of the people who have lived through the experience.

This type of research would ask a question such as, “What is the experience like for a mother living with a teenage child who is dying of cancer?”. The researcher might perceive that he, himself, would feel very frightened and hopeless. These feelings would have to be identified and then disregarded to listen to what the mother is saying about living through the experience of a dying child. It is very possible that the mother might have discovered an important reason for living while previously she probably hadn't felt needed anymore by her teenage child.

In the research question development, the researcher has to come up with research questions that are relevant to the case under study. Some of the research questions include: What does the existence of feeling or experience indicate concerning the phenomenon to be explored?, What are the necessary and sufficient constituents of experience or feeling? And what is the nature of the human being? These research questions will help in guiding the researcher through the research process.

In the data collection methodology, there are no clearly defined steps to carry out the research. This is so as to avoid limiting the creativity of the researcher. A major step involves seeking of persons who understand the study and are willing to express their inner feelings and experiences. These people then describe the experiences of the phenomenon under study to the researcher. The respondents can also write experiences of the phenomenon under study. The researcher can gain additional data through direct observation and use of audiotape or videotape.
The analysis of data from these types of studies requires that the researcher “dwells with the subject’s descriptions in quiet contemplation.” The researcher then tries to find out the meaning of the lived experience for each of the subjects interviewed. Patterns and themes are sought in the data. Collection and analysis of data occur simultaneously. Presentation of the data collected is done through reports that may be published.

2. Ethnographic Studies

Ethnographic studies involve the collection as well as the analysis of data about cultural groups. Ethnography may be described as “encountering alien worlds and making sense of them”, Agar (1986). Ethnographers try to depict how actions in one world make sense from the point of view of another world. It entails learning from people. It can also be described as the systematic process of observation, detailing, description, documentation, and analysis of the life ways or particular patterns of culture or subculture in order to understand the patterns or life ways of the persons in their familiar environment.

In this research, the researcher lives with the persons under study and becomes part of their culture. He or she explores with the community their customs and rituals. The subject of the study can be an entire cultural group of a subgroup in the culture. The term culture can be used in the broad sense to mean the entire tribe of Indians, for instance, or in a more narrow sense to mean one unit of nursing care.

The researchers interview persons who are most knowledgeable about the culture under study. These persons are called key informants. Data are generally collected through observation of participants and conduction of interviews. Just like in phenomenological studies, the researchers identify their own personal biases, beliefs and set them aside or disregard them, and then try to gain an understanding of the daily lives of the persons under study as they live them. The collection and analysis of data occur simultaneously. As the researchers gain more understanding of the data, new questions tend to emerge. The end purpose of this type of research is to aid in the development of cultural theories.

This method has been used in anthropological research for a long time. Quite recently, the method has been adopted in areas such as health care. In anthropological research, for instance, Margaret Mead in 1929 used ii to study the Samoans. This method has been the principle method used by anthropologists to study persons all over the world. The researchers study how people live and how they communicate with one another.

The type of questions that this kind of research would answer include: What are the customs of the culture under study?, What are the rituals of the culture under study? And How do the people in the culture communicate with one another? The sample size for the study is usually quite large as the researchers have to observe a large sample to be able to understand the cultural aspects of the people under study fully. In the selection of the people to interview, the researcher selects the people who are most knowledgeable in the community and interviews them. Having identified the culture to conduct the study, the researchers identify variables for the study and review available literature. As mentioned above, data collection involves gaining entrance into the culture, acquiring informants and gathering data through direct observation and interaction with the subjects. Data analysis requires that the researcher dwells with the subjects’ descriptions in quiet contemplation. Themes and patterns are then sought in the data collected. Data presentation is usually through reports on what has been observed in the field.

3. Grounded Theory Studies
Grounded theory studies are studies in which data are collected and analyzed and then a theory is developed that is based on or grounded in the data collected. This method utilizes both a deductive and inductive approach to the development of theory. According to Morse and Field (1985), "concepts and constructs are grounded in the data while hypotheses are tested as they arise from the research."

Grounded theory is a very good method for understanding the processes through which patients manage chronic or new problems relating to health. Each of the persons may manage the health problem in a way that is different from the other person. For instance, a researcher who is a nurse may be interested in knowing how young women cope with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). One woman might be embarrassed to talk about the topic while another may be comfortable to talk about it. Each woman will definitely respond to the topic in their own unique way. Instead of using probability sampling procedures, the researcher uses purposeful sampling. This is to mean that the researcher searches for certain subjects who will be able to give new information on the phenomenon that is being studied. The researcher seeks diversity rather than similarity in the persons sampled.

Data are gathered settings that are naturalistic. The collection of data primarily consists of observation of participants and interviews. Data are recorded through tape recordings or handwritten notes. Collection and analysis of data occur simultaneously. Data are constantly compared to those which have been gathered already, a process called constant comparison. Concepts that are pertinent are identified, and codes are assigned to them. The codes assigned are constantly reviewed, with new interpretations being made of the data. The researcher has to keep an open mind, and he uses intuition in the interpretation of the data.

After identification of concepts and specification of relationships, the researcher goes ahead to consult the literature to aid in the determination of whether similar associations have been already uncovered. Despite the great diversity of data gathered, this approach presumes that there is a possibility of discovering patterns that are fundamental to all social life; the patterns being called basic social processes. This method is more concerned with coming up with rather than testing of hypotheses. Another factor is that the theory generated is self-correcting, meaning that as data are gathered, there are adjustments made to the theory to allow one to interpret new data obtained. The sample size for the data is usually small, and presentation is in the form of reports of data collection and analysis.

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Research Analysis

This research paper states its findings in a logical but shallow manner. First of all, there is no hint whatsoever given concerning the data collected in the research process. The paper simply states the findings of the research without giving any particular insight into any of the data collected that led to the successful establishment of these findings (Cooper, Hedges & Valentine 2009). Secondly, the data presented by the paper is extremely shallow, especially so for a scientific paper. The paper only presents one table in its findings. The table tells the reader whether any bacteria were found on the sonographic equipment, and if it was indeed found, what kind of bacteria it was.

This one-dimensional perception of the problem narrows down the scope and depth of the research because of a number of reasons. The first reason is that the information only highlights the growth of bacteria on the sonographic equipment. This fails to address other potential loopholes such as storage areas and surrounding environment (Ridge January 01, 2005). The second reason is that choosing only to consider the growth of bacteria and fungi on the equipment limits the freedom of the research. This is because other forms of hazardous living organisms and toxins can also be present on the equipment, but which are completely unrelated to the spread of nosocomial infections. Relating the findings to the actual statistics concerning the prevalence of nosocomial infections acquired through sonographic processes would also help make the research more credible by linking it to the proposed outcome.

The sample adopted for this research is also small and insufficient to provide fully conclusive data. It is inappropriate because the entire sample used for this research is almost identical in terms of locality. First, all the sonography departments that took part in the study are located in metropolitan areas (Bowling & Ebrahim 2005). This locks out suburban and rural hospitals and outpatient clinics. Bearing in mind the fact that the health facilities located in these areas do not serve the entire human populace regardless of global location, then it is no surprise that the conclusions drawn are faulty.

This is because the sample exhibits a strong bias and the results cannot, therefore, be considered true and conclusive for all global scenarios. Rather than limit the study to metropolitan-area health facilities, the study should have engaged a myriad of health facilities from different environments (Cooper, Hedges & Valentine 2009). The fact that the entire sample was drawn from urban areas could actually be translated as conclusive proof that the spread of nosocomial infections is supported by the conditions in urban areas. Needless to say, this contradicts the purpose of the research.

The design approach of the study is commendable, seeing that it seeks to investigate the presence of bacteria and/or fungi on sonography equipment. The use of equipment is exemplary, seeing that these are the objects that come into direct contact with the patients, and so bear the potential of spreading or causing nosocomial infections. Transducers are particularly a keen source of data on the prevalence of bacteria and/or fungi insofar as patients are concerned. While this is extremely commendable, the research process displays a number of weaknesses in its approach, data collection and bias (Tracy 2013).

In terms of the approach, limiting the investigative processes to the equipment only excludes the potentiality of any other cause of nosocomial infections. This oversight provides sonographic equipment with exclusivity. It enforces the fallacy that contaminated sonographic equipment is the sole pathway through which one may suffer from a nosocomial infection. It rules out any other possibilities such as human contact and environmental factors. This exclusivity denies the readers the opportunity to see the other side of nosocomial infections insofar as sonography is concerned.

The data collection process is also mired in a web of controversy. The absence of a counter-check system is the greatest mistake in the data collection process of this research. First, the collection of single swabs from equipment and patients hinders the prospect of re-doing the tests to ascertain that the values obtained and conclusions drawn are accurate beyond doubt. Secondly, the testing was conducted in a single location, raising questions about the credibility of the results. The fact that all the results obtained come from a single laboratory could very well expose the data collection processes to manipulation.

Having all information collected and tested in one site favors any individual willing to potentially manipulate the results of the research process. This is ‘backed up’ by the fact that a single medical technologist was responsible for the examination of all the plates. This increases the probability of human error being an influential force in this research. A single lapse of judgment by the technologist would result in many flawed tests since it is probable that a similar approach would be adopted to same problems and situations. The use of this flawed data to draw conclusions translates in flawed conclusions that cannot be verified (Bowling & Ebrahim 2005). A situation such as this disqualifies the entire research’s findings.

The research also flops insofar as the level of measurement of variables is concerned. The research was developed to determine the progress of the sonography medical sector in matters regarding fighting nosocomial infections. The research, however, delves into the presence of bacteria and /or fungi in sonographic equipment. The failure to determine the exact rates of bacteria and /or fungi that cause nosocomial infections makes it difficult to grasp the full scope of the hazard posed by bacteria and/or fungus infected sonographic equipment. The research also fails to highlight which specific sonographic equipment was found having the highest levels of bacteria and/or fungi.

This would be essential in the fight against nosocomial infections. It is also worrying that for research of such sensitive and important nature, this paper does not measure the rates at which bacteria and/or fungi cultures develop on the different swabs. The research only highlights whether cultures grow, and how many colonies are present if they grow (Cooper, Hedges & Valentine 2009). This fails to highlight how rapidly and exponentially these cultures grow. For this reason, one cannot determine the approximate time bacteria and/or fungus takes to develop into a nosocomial infection. Such information would have been useful in highlighting the need to ensure top notch and hygienic sonographic services to prevent further spread of nosocomial infections.

The absence of guiding hypotheses is also clearly noted in this paper. This paper fails to state clearly the hypotheses of the research team, and if these hypotheses were found to be true or false. Understanding the vitality of hypotheses in any research process, their absence makes this process appear as more of a trial and error method, rather than a research process with certain expectations (Piantanida & Garman 2009). Having no hypotheses makes any conclusions drawn acceptable and true and holding, regardless of whether they fall in line with the research hypotheses or not. This is a disadvantage because it leads to the conducting of poorly organized research, and in essence flawed and false results.

This limits the viewpoint with which one views the research since they only see it in one direction (Cooper, Hedges & Valentine 2009). Having working hypotheses that would either be confirmed or denied or both would add credibility to the research paper. It would be the voice affirming the quality of the paper and its applicability in modern day life. This would also help the average layman to understand the reality of nosocomial infections and the threat that they pose. Such a predicament prevents the interpretation of the results in terms of the problem and hypotheses, which is a key function of any research process (Ridge January 01, 2005). The absence of any literature review is also disadvantageous to the research process. This leaves the readers reading blindly, without any knowledge regarding the subject matter of the research and its successes and failures.

These researchers also identify the reason for clinical practice application of their findings. This paper remains relevant insofar as clinical practice is concerned. The field of medicine and health is one that highly favors extremely high levels of hygiene among the staff, patients, as well as equipment. The sensitive nature of the human body remains susceptible to disease caused by poor hygiene. This is particularly applicable to Immuno-compromised individuals (Bowling & Ebrahim 2005). These individuals bank on the application of socially and medically sound policies that will facilitate the prevention of disease due to poor hygiene.

Clinical application of some of the benefits of this research process will be manifested in the reduction of the number of nosocomial invalids in hospitals. The researcher also does well to recommend the key information in matters concerning disinfection of sonography equipment. Being one of the most human-contact jobs, it is essential that medics and their members of staff ensure that they do their best to reduce the possibility of contracting and/or transmitting nosocomial infections. This would help to keep all urban, as well as rural areas free of nosocomial infections caused by gross negligence of health facilities.

This paper can easily be replicated. In reality, the small sample size that was used to develop ‘accurately calculated results’ is a huge liability to the credibility and success of the entire project (Piantanida & Garman 2009). The process is financially demanding, seeing that this requires the involvement of a large number of participators. For instance, disproving the assumption that all individuals in metropolitan-area regions are almost similar, as depicted by the study, in matters nosocomial infections is a start.

Allowing the recommendations of this paper to be applied in the replication process will facilitate better and more conclusive results insofar as sonography and nosocomial infections are concerned. In this way, the many flaws and fallacies employed in the previous research can be avoided. This paper suggests championing against the persistent use of antibiotics to cure nosocomial infections. For this reason, this paper highlights the importance of proper disinfection in preventing infection (Tracy 2013). The reminder that all medical staff owes a duty to the society to protect their lives falls in line with the conclusion of this paper. It reminds the populace that a better life through avoidance of nosocomial infections can be achieved through hard work and commitment.


Bowling, A., & Ebrahim, S. (2005). Handbook of health research methods: Investigation, measurement and analysis. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Cooper, H. M., Hedges, L. V., & Valentine, J. C. (2009). The handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Piantanida, M., & Garman, N. B. (2009). The qualitative dissertation: A guide for students and faculty. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin.
Ridge, C. (January 01, 2005). Sonographers and the Fight Against Nosocomial Infections. Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography, 21, 1, 7-11.
Tracy, S. J. (2013). Qualitative research methods: Collecting evidence, crafting analysis, communicating impact. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


Evidence-based practice (EBP) and research

Research is the process of testing a characteristic of a predetermined group of people. It involves obtaining information that can either be used in disputing or proving a statement. On the other hand, evidence based practice is a process of that uses clinical knowledge aimed at providing the patient’s care by putting into consideration their background. Evidence based practice can also be termed as a practice that looks at the research findings, quality and evaluating data got from research. Evidence based practice is used to close the gap between research conducted and the actual practice (Higgs, 2008). This implies that it is a qualitative analysis of a given trait. This is in contrast with research is based on quantitative analysis of traits found in a group of people. In terms of their differences, research involves generating new ideas or validating some existing phenomena. This implies that research is based on validating ideas to avoid biasing (Hamric, 2009).

In my work setting, I work in a team of picc nurses where we engage in putting peripherally inserted central catheter lines. We rely on physicians who determine the patient’s needs on peripherally inserted central catheter lines. This is a collaborating team as we depend on the researcher’s (physicians) information. In my evaluation, I determine the best treatment required by the patient depending on the physicians’ advice. We rely on the physician’s information of white blood cell count of the patient and as well if the patient has an elevated temperature. My peripherally inserted central catheter team involves with record keeping on patients who developed their illness before and after the insertion of the catheter.

In my graduate role, I would use this opportunity in training to staff nurses. My role would be based on the physicians’ details regarding the patient’s conditions. Record keeping done on patients developing infections will be used while training the new staff nurses. This ensures that cases of patients getting infections after the insertion of peripherally inserted central catheter lines is handled (Higgs, 2008).


Higgs, J., & Titchen, A. (2008). Professional Practice in Health, Education and the Creative Arts. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
Hamric, A. B., In Hanson, C. M., In Tracy, M. F., & In O'Grady, E. T. (2009). Advanced practice nursing: An integrative approach.