Nursing Research: Non- and Experimental Designs


Research performs an essential role in many life spheres, and nursing is not an exception. It helps scientists collect and analyze existing information as well as generate conclusions that would be beneficial for many people. That is why every piece of research meets particular criteria to be credible. In nursing studies, specific attention is paid to theory with its elements, framework, as well as a set of non-experimental and experimental designs.

Theory and Study Framework

Every nursing study begins with theory statement, while a study framework should support it. Any theory introduces the information that is a basis for a given study to be conducted. Every approach consists of concepts that are the phenomena under analysis and principles representing the relationship between two or more ideas. Furthermore, a study framework is a necessary component of a study because it helps researchers structure their thoughts (Dickson, Hussein, & Agyem, 2018). Thus, the two above complement each other to create valid research.

Non-Experimental and Experimental Designs

In the nursing field, researchers can use many study designs to analyze crucial phenomena. According to Burns and Grove, “the four most commonly used types are descriptive, correlational, quasi-experimental, and experimental”. Among non-experimental designs, observing and presenting various phenomena are found in descriptive, while correlational designs identify connections between two or more independent concepts. As for a group of experimental research, true-experimental models pay attention to cause-and-effect relationships between different phenomena in natural conditions. At the same time, quasi-experimental types follow the same general principles, while the difference is that the conditions are created artificially by researchers. Thus, these research designs are the most common options in nursing studies.


For a study to be reasonable and credible, it should correspond to a few requirements. On the one hand, credible research is based on perfectly developed theory, while a framework supports and describe it. On the other hand, it is necessary to follow one of the existing study designs. The suitable choice will help researchers analyze phenomena, determine relationships among them, and come to a firm conclusion.


Burns, N., & Grove, S. (2015). Building an evidence-based practice (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Dickson, A., Hussein, E. K., & Agyem, J. A. (2018). Theoretical and conceptual framework: Mandatory ingredients of a quality research. International Journal of Scientific Research, 7(1), 438-441.