Quantitative and qualitative paradigms used in nursing research refer to the methodologies utilized in either case. Qualitative and quantitative methodologies differ in how each is evaluated. They also differ in that qualitative methodology is inductive while quantitative research is deductive. The evaluation criteria for qualitative research include credibility, confirmability, transferability, meaning of context, saturation and recurrent patterning. These criteria asses the vigor and the truthfulness of the qualitative method used. On the other hand, the criteria for evaluation of quantitative methodology were reliability, generalizability and validity. These asses the rigor and strength of the quantitative method used.
Morris and Burkett (p 27) are of the opinion that using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in the same study is theoretically impossible. This is because their foundations are mutually exclusive and non-congruent. Qualitative research methods are subjective and holistic while quantitative research methods are objective, measurable and variable focused. Other researchers believe that mixing the qualitative and quantitative paradigms in nursing research most likely results in one methodology being less valued or subsumed under the other. There is however, a belief in nursing and other disciplines that both approaches can complement each other and lead to better research results. Still, there are researchers who feel that the different paradigms can be reconciled buy using a strategy of triangulation, multiple sources, theories and investigators. These were suggested to help in integration of the paradigms. There then were those that suggested the pragmatist approach of going with whichever method works, as they felt the debates of the superiority or inferiority of ether paradigm were stalling progress of research in many disciplines.
A review done by Morris and Burkett on nursing studies that were apparently carried out using mixed methods revealed the following: the studies demonstrated rigorous quantitative research that used interview and questionnaires to further describe the results of the quantitative analysis. When the studies were evaluated using the qualitative methodology criteria, they scored poorly. When the same was done using the criteria for quantitative methodology, the scores were high (p 34). the conclusion the researcher came up with was that mixed method studies do not use mixed methodologies but rather use mixed data collection techniques to enhance quantitative research.
Morris, E., and Burkett, K. “Mixed methodologies: A new research paradigm or enhanced quantitative paradigm.” The Online Journal of Cultural Competence in Nursing and Healthcare 1(1), 27-36. (2011). Web 8 January 2014. <http://www.ojccnh.org/1/1/27-36.pdf>