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Experimental research design is a type of quantitative research design that is highly controlled and study cause and effect with independently and dependent variables (GCU, 2018). The primary goal for experimental research is to provide strong evidence for cause and effect relationships.

In contrast to experimental research, nonexperimental research involves variables that are not manipulated by the researcher and instead are studied as they exist. The use of nonexperimental research in some cases, would be unethical to randomly assign individuals to different treatment conditions (Johnson, R.B. & Christensen, 2008). Example of this is that one could not study the effects of smoking by randomly assigning individuals to either a smoking or nonsmoking group for a given number of years. The only ethical way is to identify a group of smokers and nonsmokers and compare the differences in their current state of health, how long people had smoked, their gender, age and general health level. To do this would be important because the researcher cannot take for granted that the group are comparable in aspect other than smoking behavior. This contrasts with experimental research groups which due to the process of random assignment, start out equal in all respects except for the treatment condition in which they are placed.


Chapter 3 in Nursing Research: Understanding Methods for Best Practice

Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. See lecture in Chapter Eleven: Nonexperimental quantitative research, based on Educational Research: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Applications. Retrieved March 13, 2008, from

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