Short on time?

Get essay writing help

Application of Ethical Principles in Research: Analytical Essay

  • Words: 2490
  • |
  • Pages: 5
  • This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Comparing and analyzing qualitative and quantitative approaches to research with consideration of ethical issues associated with research

Research can be described as a quest for new knowledge and the exploration of the unknown. A systematic process in which data is collected and analyzed in order to draw conclusions and generate new concepts (Walliman, 2011). Research within the field of nutrition is crucial and conducted daily, as nutrition is constantly changing is it vital to obtain and utilize current and up-to-date information (Ohlhorst, et al, 2013). Evidence-based research can profoundly make positive changes to health and allow medical innovations to happen, including, prevention and treatment of disease and public health interventions (Dobrow, et al, 2017). The World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges the importance for a more rigorous process for research within nutrition, to ensure the delivery of safe evidence-based information within public health (WHO, 2019).

The essence of this assignment is to compare the similarities and dissimilarities between quantitative and qualitative research methods. Strengths and limitations are apparent in all areas of research and they will be explored within this assignment. Ethical issues throughout the research process will be discussed in depth and the reader will be informed on four ethical principles required when using human participants in research.

According to Jervis and Drake (2014), the main purpose of research is to obtain new knowledge, also to validate and expand on existing knowledge, in order to establish facts to explain a certain phenomenon. Research methods refer to all procedures carried out by the researcher in the research process and comprise of both quantitative and qualitative methods (Polgar and Thomas, 2008). Quantitative research is a systematic approach used to quantify variables, using numerical or statistical data (Polit and Beck, 2010). Hagan (2014) also adds that quantitative research is a systematic, structured, and formal process that uses a statistical approach in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. Contrarily, Hammerberg, et al (2016) explains that qualitative research is a systematic but unstructured process that is narrative and descriptive in the design of the collection, analysis, and presentation of data. Regardless of the difference in the meaning, both are research methods that follow a step-by-step process that considers each stage of the research process systematically. This correlates with the definition of research as a systematic and rigorous process (Ozhan-Caparlar and Donmez, 2016).

Quantitative research uses deductive reasoning, which works on a hypothesis and examines all possibilities before reaching a specific and logical conclusion (Azungha, 2018). It could be argued, that as deductive reasoning is based on assumptions, affirming the consequent may pose as a limitation, for example, if one of the premises are wrong or if different assumptions are made, then all logic becomes falsifiable (Abutabenji and Jaradat, 2018). On the other hand, the possibility to explain its hypothesis by discovering a relationship between an independent (cause) and a dependent (effect) variable is a deductive strength (Oaksford, 2015). In contrast to this, qualitative research uses inductive reasoning, which begins with an observation, forms a pattern, a hypothesis is created to support its theory and a conclusion is drawn based on multiple ideas, generating a new theory for quantitative research to experiment on. However, Zalhagi and Khazei (2016) are from a different point of view and suggest that quantitative research is more than just experimenting with a theory developed by qualitative research and that it can also develop its theory based on the researcher’s predictions.

Pritchard (2018) emphasizes on the importance of epistemology (existence of knowledge) and ontology (existence of truth/reality) on the paradigm of research. Consisting of positivism and interpretism. Quantitative research is based on positivism, it is objective in nature as it generates knowledge and truth from a single idea and prediction from the researcher, empirical confirmation, and experimentation. In contrast, qualitative research is based on the interpretive paradigm, as it is subjective in nature and draws knowledge from interpreting other people’s experiences, behavior, and understanding of their natural environment, often with little or no prediction from the researcher (Kivunja and Kuyini, 2017).

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

Quantitative data is gathered through questionnaires, surveys, and polls. Pre-existing statistical data can be manipulated using specialist computer software, by doing this, it allows the research to be replicated and therefore, increases the reliability of the study (Swift and Tischler, 2010). Data collected using the quantitative method can be generalized across populations, as large sample sizes can be used in the study (Austin and Sutton, 2014). For instance, in order to find out the nutritional intake of university students living on campus, a cohort study could be conducted by way of using dietary assessment methods, such as 24-hour recalls and a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Although the accuracy of using such methods could be questioned, as social desirability response may lead to inaccurate self-reporting, therefore, this limitation may impede the conclusion (Miller, et al, 2008). In comparison, qualitative methods produce results by means that are not quantifiable. Data is obtained through interviews, focus groups, and observation, as qualitative takes a naturalistic approach the researcher needs to adopt person-centered principles (Sandvik and McCormack, 2018). The outcome of the aforementioned study regarding the nutritional intake of students living on campus would produce very different findings when using a qualitative approach. A qualitative approach is used to better understand human experiences and behaviors and as human behaviors are influenced by surroundings, the research is conducted in the natural setting of the subjects (Anderson, 2010). Rahman (2016) argues that research carried out in such a way lacks validity, as small sample sizes cannot be generalized, also the results can be manipulated by the researcher’s own opinions.

Although quantitative research has dominated the research world and with methodological purists taking the stance of being either primarily quantitative or primarily qualitative, combining both methods using the mixed method approach can be highly beneficial in research (Schoonenboom and Johnson, 2017). Almalki (2016) connotes that adopting a mixed method approach is particularly useful to understand contradictions between the findings of qualitative and quantitative, plus offers great flexibility, therefore, can be adaptable to various study designs, such as randomized trials and observational studies. Although the mixed method approach has gained momentum within the field of research, it has also been the subject of much debate as to whether it carries any weight of the substance. Research involves a vigorous process and should be carried out meticulously, in the case of mixed methods the researcher needs to be skilled in both qualitative and quantitative methods and this proves problematic when conducting mixed methods research, due to the researcher’s personal preference to research methods (Regnault, et al, 2018, Shorten and Smith, 2017).

Along with the possibility of uncertain outcomes in research, there is also an element of risk to participants or the environment. Therefore, all research should be designed and carried out ethically (Vanclay, et al, 2013). In 1964 The Declaration of Helsinki, a formal statement, was developed to provide ethical guidelines for all medical researchers to adhere to when using human subjects in research, with the intention to protect human participants from being mistreated. The Declaration of Helsinki set the foundations for future ethical developments (Carlson, et al, 2004). Before any study can begin a proposal of what is intended should be submitted to an ethics committee in order to gain approval for the study being carried out. The researcher must then obtain informed consent from the participant and the participant should be made aware of the exact procedure in which they are committing to. The opportunity to withdraw at any stage of the process should be emphasized and the researcher should reiterate this at every stage of the study(Erlren, 2010). This is particularly crucial in qualitative research, as the outcomes can often take a different direction it is paramount that no distress is caused by the findings. For example, if a study was conducted to measure the subject’s intake of sugar, considering the fact, that consuming excessive amounts of sugar can lead to obesity, and in turn, can lead to type 2 diabetes mellitus (Khasari, et al, 2014). Participants’ personal data must be guarded with the strictest confidentiality, any information that could identify a person, for example, date of birth, name, address, or contact information should be kept safe from (Saunders, et al, 2014). This is in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (, 2018).

Beauchamp and Childress (1979) devised a framework of four ethical principles. The four prima facie principles are respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. The term prima facie means that the principle is binding unless it contradicts another of the moral principles (Gillon, 2014). The aim of autonomous decision-making is to treat participants with fairness and to have their involvement in all decision-making throughout the whole research process (Mellado, 2016). However, having respect for autonomy is not absolute and a person may at times act without autonomy, for example, for a person hospitalized and suffering with severe anorexia nervosa and refusing food, the decision to be forced fed by medical professionals, then their autonomous right has been taken away, even if the decision is in their best interest (Coggon and Miola, 2011). The Mental Health Capacity Act is in place with principles designed to act on behalf of a person who lacks the mental capacity to make informed decisions (Biswas and Hiremath, 2010). Non-maleficence (do no harm) and beneficence (do good) are often used interchangeably but even though they are closely related, the two should be confused. Beneficence aims to promote good and well-being in society and in patients. While non-maleficence aims to first do no harm, which is achievable by careful decision-making (Townsend, et al, 2010). Justice encompasses all the principles, intended to treat all with fairness, whilst upholding moral principles in all aspects of laws and legislation (Jahn, 2011).

In conclusion, although qualitative and quantitative methods both possess weaknesses, they also have their strengths, therefore, none is superior to the other and both have a place in the field of dietetics. The mixed method research is a research approach that is gaining in popularity amongst researchers and this approach has deservedly earned its place. Strengths and limitations are a part of any research and they have been highlighted within this essay. The author has gained a broader knowledge in ethical principles through the writing of this essay.

Reference List

  1. ABUTABENJI, S. and JARADAT, R. (2018). Clarification of research design, research methods, and research methodology. Teaching Public Administration, 36(3), pp.237-258.
  2. ALMALKI, S. (2016). Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Data in Mixed Methods Research—Challenges and Benefits. Journal of Education and Learning, 5(3), p.288.
  3. ANDERSON, C. (2010). Presenting and Evaluating Qualitative Research. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74(8), p.141.
  4. AUSTIN, Z. and SUTTON, J. (2014). Qualitative Research: Getting Started. The Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 67(6), p.772.
  5. AZUNGHA, T. (2018). Qualitative research: deductive and inductive approaches to data analysis. Qualitative Research Journal, 18(4), pp.383-400.
  6. BISWAS, A. and HIREMATH, A. (2010). Mental capacity assessment and ‘best interests’ decision-making in clinical practice: a case illustration. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 16(6), pp.440-447.
  7. CARLSON, R., BOYD, K. and WEBB, D. (2004). The revision of the Declaration of Helsinki: past, present and future. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 57(6), pp.695-713.
  8. COGGON, J. and MIOLA, J. (2011). AUTONOMY, LIBERTY, AND MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING. The Cambridge Law Journal, 70(3), pp.523-547.
  9. DOBROW, M., MILLER, F., FRANK, C. and BROWN, A. (2017). Understanding relevance of health research: considerations in the context of research impact assessment. Health Research Policy and Systems, 15(1), pp.223-227.
  10. ERLEN, J. (2010). Informed Consent. Orthopaedic Nursing, 29(4), pp.276-280.
  11. GILLON, R. (2014). Defending the four principles approach as a good basis for good medical practice and therefore for good medical ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics, 41(1), pp.111-116.
  12. HAGAN, T. (2014). Measurements in Quantitative Research: How to Select and Report on Research Instruments. Oncology Nursing Forum, 41(4), pp.431-433.
  13. HAMMERBERG, K., KIRKMAN, M. and DE LACEY, S. (2016). Qualitative research methods: when to use them and how to judge them. Human Reproduction, 31(3), pp.498-501.
  14. JAHN, W. (2011). The 4 basic ethical principles that apply to forensic activities are respect for autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, 10(3), pp.225-226.
  15. JERVIS, M. and DRAKE, M. (2014). The Use of Qualitative Research Methods in Quantitative Science: A Review. Journal of Sensory Studies, 29(4), pp.234-247.
  16. KHASRAI, Y., DEFUDES, G. and POZZILLA, P. (2014). Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: a review. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 30(S1), pp.24-33.
  17. KIVUNJA, C. and KUYINI, A. (2017). Understanding and Applying Research Paradigms in Educational Contexts. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(5), p.26.
  18. MELLADO, J. (2016). Autonomy, consent and responsibility. Part 1: Limitations of the principle of autonomy as a foundation of informed consent. Radiología (English Edition), 58(5), pp.343-351.
  19. MILLER, T., ABDEL-MAKSOUD, M., CRANE, L., MARCUS, A. and BYERS, T. (2008). Effects of social approval bias on self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 7(1), p.339.
  20. OAKSFORD, M. (2015). Imaging deductive reasoning and the new paradigm. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9(335), pp.97-106.
  21. OHLHORST, S., RUSSELL, R., BIER, D., KLURFELD, D., LI, Z., MEIN, J., MILNER, J., ROSS, A., STOVER, P. and KONOPKA, E. (2013). Nutrition research to affect food and a healthy lifespan. Advances in Nutrition, 4(5), pp.579-584.
  22. OZHAN CAPARLAR, C. and DONMEZ, A. (2016). What is Scientific Research and How Can it be Done?. Turkish Journal of Anesthesia and Reanimation, 44(4), pp.212-218.
  23. POLGAR, S. and THOMAS, S. (2008). Introduction to research in the health sciences. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Elservier, pp.64-71.
  24. POLIT, D. and BECK, C. (2010). Generalization in quantitative and qualitative research: Myths and strategies. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 47(11), pp.1451-1458.
  25. PRITCHARD, D. (2018). What Is This Thing Called Knowledge?. 3rd ed. Milton: Routledge, pp.144-167.
  26. RAHMAN, M. (2016). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches and Methods in Language “Testing and Assessment” Research: A Literature Review. Journal of Education and Learning, 6(1), p.102.
  27. REGNAULT, A., WILLGOSS, T. and BARBIC, S. (2018). Towards the use of mixed methods inquiry as best practice in health outcomes research. Journal of Patient-Reported Outcomes, 2(1), pp.36-55.
  28. SANDVIK, B. and McCORMACK, B. (2018). Being person-centred in qualitative interviews: reflections on a process. International Practice Development Journal, 8(2), pp.1-8.
  29. SAUNDERS, B., KITZINGER, J. and KITZINGER, C. (2014). Anonymising interview data: challenges and compromise in practice. Qualitative Research, 15(5), pp.616-632.
  30. SCHOONENBOOM, J. and JOHNSON, R. (2017). How to Construct a Mixed Methods Research Design. KZfSS Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 69(S2), pp.107-131.
  31. SHORTEN, A. and SMITH, J. (2017). Mixed methods research: expanding the evidence base. Evidence Based Nursing, 20(3), pp.74-75.
  32. SWIFT, J. and TISCHLER, V. (2010). Qualitative research in nutrition and dietetics: getting started. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 23(6), pp.559-566.
  33. TOWNSEND, A., COX, S. and LI, L. (2010). Qualitative Research Ethics: Enhancing Evidence-Based Practice in Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy, 90(4), pp.615-628.
  34. VANCLAY, F., BAINES, J. and TAYLOR, C. (2013). Principles for ethical research involving humans: ethical professional practice in impact assessment Part I. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, 31(4), pp.243-253.
  35. WALLIMAN, N. (2011). Research methods. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, p.37.
  36. World Health Organization. (2019). Nutrition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2019].
  37. ZALHAGI, H. and KHAZEI, M. (2016). The Role of Deductive and Inductive Reasoning in Accounting Research and Standard Setting. Asian Journal of Finance & Accounting, 8(1), p.23.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

Application of Ethical Principles in Research: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Application of Ethical Principles in Research: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Application of Ethical Principles in Research: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Application of Ethical Principles in Research: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.