Plain Talk: Both quantitative and qualitative research are valid forms of argumentation.
Nursing researchers could learn a lot from Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca’s “The New Rhetoric” (1969), an invaluable treatise on logical argumentation. Here’s my idea: If we called research ‘argumentation’, the playing field of the quantitative/qualitative battle would be leveled. The term, ‘research’ has come to glorify quantitative research, which is such a shame, because the best research method is the one that answers the research question. Given this, quant could be a bad choice. Pick the wrong method and that study is headed to the paper shredder, not to mention you just forfeited tenure and fame.
If argumentation became the predominant paradigm under which quantitative and qualitative were considered two different types of logical reasoning (argumentation), we might do away with the stereotypical meanings of ‘research’ as only referring to quantitative analysis. By the way, argumentation is just another word for logical, critical reasoning. Anyway, no longer would we tolerate this insane idea that quantitative research trumps qualitative research in regards to rigor. Where did that come from, anyway? Well, I’ll tell you. It came from the Logical Positivist movement, and those rumors about math trumping language still persist. HOWEVER: Math and language are both symbols of our thoughts and concepts. It doesn’t matter if the argumentation is quantitative or qualitative in nature. What matters is that it is logical, coherent, and convincing relative to what else we know about the world. A truce for the standoff between quantitative and qualitative is found in the concept of argumentation.