Research Designs

While there are many types of quantitative research designs, they mainly fall under experimental and non-experimental research. Experimental research is the type of research that uses a scientific approach towards manipulating one or more control variables of the research subject and measuring the effect of this manipulation on the subject (O’Dwyer & Bernauer, 2014). An example of experimental research is mixing of certain variables to see the effect of one element on another. A good example of this in nursing is comparing a control group to an experimental group that receives treatment.

As for non-experimental research, researchers do not interfere with variables but rather record them as they occur. It is often used when the researcher has no specific research question. In this case, manipulation of independent variables is impossible. One describes the situation either as it is, or compares between two variables, all without any interference from the researcher (Swart 2019). An example is describing the condition of a malaria patient as it occurs or even comparing between one or two malaria patients without interfering with anything.

The major difference between experimental and non-experimental research method lies in the level of control. For experimental research, the researcher sets the environment to their liking and controls the variables based on the research requirements. Due to its well-structured nature, the results have little to no errors (Swart 2019). Non-experimental research however is in a real life situation where the researcher has no control over the variables hence the level of control is limited .Without the level of control, it is impossible to determine the causal effect. However, little attempt is made to control threats in internal validity of the research. Due to this, the research is broad and exploratory allowing for a wider range of scenarios to be studied.



O’Dwyer, L. M., & Bernauer, J. A. (2014). Experimental research designs. In Quantitative research for the qualitative researcher (pp. 171-190). SAGE Publications, Inc.,

Swart, L., Kramer, S., Ratele, K., & Seedat, M. (2019). Non-experimental research designs: Investigating the spatial distribution and social ecology of male homicide. In Kramer S., Laher S., & Fynn A. (Eds.), Transforming research methods in the social sciences: Case studies from South Africa (pp. 19-35). Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

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