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Nurse Researcher

Demystifying nursing research terminology. Part 1
Cite this article as: Welford C, Murphy K, Casey D (2011) Demystifying nursing research terminology. Part 1.
Nurse Researcher. 18, 4, 38-43.
Received February 12 2010; accepted October 29 2010
Correspondence to Claire Welford
Email: claire.welford@ Claire Welford RGN, Dip NS,
BNS Hons, MSc, PGC TLHE is
HRB nursing research fellow

Aim This article aims to provide clear explanations of the research approaches available for nursing research.

Dympna Casey RGH, BA, MA,
PhD is senior lecturer

Background There are numerous research approaches available to the nurse researcher. There is also some ambiguity in the literature in
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Hesse (1980) stated that the positivist paradigm is reductionist and deterministic. The researcher using this paradigm strives for objectivity and uses measurement to test hypotheses (Young
2008). Maintaining tight control over the context of the problem allows the researcher to make generalisations about the concepts being studied
(Young 2008).
Positivism uses scientific methods of enquiry to describe and predict patterns in the physical world (Suppe and Jacox 1985). Theory is established deductively through formal statistical testing of hypothesis (Lincoln and Guba 1985). The goal of

positivist research is thus control and prediction
(Weaver and Olson 2006).
According to Reason and Bradbury (2008), positivists are traditionally committed to a view of scientific neutrality – in other words, the researcher separates the facts from their values.
Epistemologically, positivists are wedded to an individual vision of the world, in which individuals are believed to have their own minds and this determines behaviour (Reason and Bradbury 2008).
Positivists are objective or dualist and maintain that there should be separation between those who study reality and those who experience it (dualism). Gaventa and Cornwall (2008) argued that this epistemological view can distort the ‘real’ world view that positivists hold. However, Guba and Lincoln (1994) stated that
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