NURS 433 Experimental and Nonexperimental Research Design DQ

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NURS 433 Experimental and Nonexperimental Research Design DQ

NURS 433 Experimental and Nonexperimental Research Design DQ


DQ1 Provide examples of experimental and nonexperimental
research design. Contrast the levels of control applied to each.

DQ2 Describe sampling theory and provide examples to illustrate
your definition. Discuss generalizability as it applies to nursing research

What is 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(s) and measuring the effect of this manipulation on the subject. It is known for the fact that it allows the manipulation of control variables.

This research method is widely used in various physical and social science fields, even though it may be quite difficult to execute. Within the information field, they are much more common in information systems research than in library and information management research.

Experimental research is usually undertaken when the goal of the research is to trace cause-and-effect relationships between defined variables. However, the type of experimental research chosen has a significant influence on the results of the experiment.

Therefore bringing us to the different types of experimental research. There are 3 main types of experimental research, namely; pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, and true experimental research.

Pre-experimental Research

Pre-experimental research is the simplest form of research, and is carried out by observing a group or groups of dependent variables after the treatment of an independent variable which is presumed to cause change on the group(s). It is further divided into three types.

  • One-shot case study research
  • One-group pretest-posttest research
  • Static-group comparison

Quasi-experimental Research

The Quasi type of experimental research is similar to true experimental research, but uses carefully selected rather than randomized subjects. The following are examples of quasi-experimental research:

  • Time series 
  • No equivalent control group design
  • Counterbalanced design.

True Experimental Research

True experimental research is the most accurate type,  and may simply be called experimental research. It manipulates a control group towards a group of randomly selected subjects and records the effect of this manipulation.

True experimental research can be further classified into the following groups:

  • The posttest-only control group
  • The pretest-posttest control group
  • Solomon four-group

Pros of True Experimental Research

  • Researchers can have control over variables.
  • It can be combined with other research methods.
  • The research process is usually well structured.
  • It provides specific conclusions.
  • The results of experimental research can be easily duplicated.

Cons of True Experimental Research

  • It is highly prone to human error.
  • Exerting control over extraneous variables may lead to the personal bias of the researcher.
  • It is time-consuming.
  • It is expensive.
  • Manipulating control variables may have ethical implications.
  • It produces artificial results.

What is Non-Experimental Research?

Non-experimental research is the type of research that does not involve the manipulation of control or independent variable. In non-experimental research, researchers measure variables as they naturally occur without any further manipulation.

This type of research is used when the researcher has no specific research question about a causal relationship between 2 different variables, and manipulation of the independent variable is impossible. They are also used when:

  • subjects cannot be randomly assigned to conditions.
  • the research subject is about a causal relationship but the independent variable cannot be manipulated.
  • the research is broad and exploratory
  • the research pertains to a non-causal relationship between variables.
  • limited information can be accessed about the research subject.

There are 3 main types of non-experimental research, namely; cross-sectional research, correlation research, and observational research.

Cross-sectional Research

Cross-sectional research involves the comparison of two or more pre-existing groups of people under the same criteria. This approach is classified as non-experimental because the groups are not randomly selected and the independent variable is not manipulated.

For example, an academic institution may want to reward its first-class students with a scholarship for their academic excellence. Therefore, each faculty places students in the eligible and ineligible group according to their class of degree.

In this case, the student’s class of degree cannot be manipulated to qualify him or her for a scholarship because it is an unethical thing to do. Therefore, the placement is cross-sectional.

Correlational Research

Correlational type of research compares the statistical relationship between two variables.Correlational research is classified as non-experimental because it does not manipulate the independent variables.

For example, a researcher may wish to investigate the relationship between the class of family students come from and their grades in school. A questionnaire may be given to students to know the average income of their family, then compare it with CGPAs.


The researcher will discover whether these two factors are positively correlated, negatively corrected, or have zero correlation at the end of the research.

Observational Research

Observational research focuses on observing the behavior of a research subject in a natural or laboratory setting. It is classified as non-experimental because it does not involve the manipulation of independent variables.

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A good example of observational research is an investigation of the crowd effect or psychology in a particular group of people. Imagine a situation where there are 2 ATMs at a place, and only one of the ATMs is filled with a queue, while the other is abandoned.

The crowd effect infers that the majority of newcomers will also abandon the other ATM.

You will notice that each of these non-experimental research is descriptive in nature. It then suffices to say that descriptive research is an example of non-experimental research.

Pros of Observational Research

  • The research process is very close to a real-life situation.
  • It does not allow for the manipulation of variables due to ethical reasons.
  • Human characteristics are not subject to experimental manipulation.

Cons of Observational Research

  • The groups may be dissimilar and nonhomogeneous because they are not randomly selected, affecting the authenticity and generalizability of the study results.
  • The results obtained cannot be absolutely clear and error-free.

What Are The Differences Between Experimental and Non-Experimental Research?

  • Definitions

Experimental research is the type of research that uses a scientific approach towards manipulating one or more control variables and measuring their defect on the dependent variables, while non-experimental research is the type of research that does not involve the manipulation of control variables.

The main distinction in these 2 types of research is their attitude towards the manipulation of control variables. Experimental allows for the manipulation of control variables while non-experimental research doesn’t.

  • Examples

Examples of experimental research are laboratory experiments that involve mixing different chemical elements together to see the effect of one element on the other while non-experimental research examples are investigations into the characteristics of different chemical elements.

Consider a researcher carrying out a laboratory test to determine the effect of adding Nitrogen gas to Hydrogen gas. It may be discovered that using the Haber process, one can create Nitrogen gas.

Non-experimental research may further be carried out on Ammonia, to determine its characteristics, behaviour, and nature.

  • Types

There are 3 types of experimental research, namely; experimental research, quasi-experimental research, and true experimental research. Although also 3 in number, non-experimental research can be classified into cross-sectional research, correlational research, and observational research.

The different types of experimental research are further divided into different parts, while non-experimental research types are not further divided. Clearly, these divisions are not the same in experimental and non-experimental research.

  • Characteristics

Experimental research is usually quantitative, controlled, and multivariable. Non-experimental research can be both quantitative and qualitative, has an uncontrolled variable, and also a cross-sectional research problem.

The characteristics of experimental research are the direct opposite of that of non-experimental research. The most distinct characteristic element is the ability to control or manipulate independent variables in experimental research and not in non-experimental research.

In experimental research, a level of control is usually exerted on extraneous variables, therefore tampering with the natural research setting. Experimental research settings are usually more natural with no tampering with the extraneous variables.

  • Data Collection/Tools

 The data used during experimental research is collected through observational study, simulations, and surveys while non-experimental data is collected through observations, surveys, and case studies. The main distinction between these data collection tools is case studies and simulations.

Even at that, similar tools are used differently. For example, an observational study may be used during a laboratory experiment that tests how the effect of a control variable manifests over a period of time in experimental research.

However, when used in non-experimental research, data is collected based on the researcher’s discretion and not through a clear scientific reaction. In this case, we see a difference in the level of objectivity.

  • Goal

The goal of experimental research is to measure the causes and effects of variables present in research, while non-experimental research provides very little to no information about causal agents.

Experimental research answers the question of why something is happening. This is quite different in non-experimental research, as they are more descriptive in nature with the end goal being to describe what.

  • Uses

Experimental research is mostly used to make scientific innovations and find major solutions to problems while non-experimental research is used to define subject characteristics, measure data trends, compare situations and validate existing conditions.

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