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1. The difference between research tools and instruments is that whereas instruments establish processes, measures, and means by which the study itself is conducted – more in line with research methodologies – research tools are the means themselves which researchers utilize to gather the information. Most commonly, research tools are exhibited through the use of surveys, interviews, observations, questionnaires, and other methods of obtaining social research information (Babbie, 2015). However, there are some more complex research tools, such as critical incident technique, which utilize aspects of more than one of the aforementioned research tools. The critical incident technique employs the use of surveys and questionnaires to collect data which spells out the key performance objectives of a range of disciplines. Most often, it is used to evaluate the performance and critical objectives of roles for pilots (i.e., the original implementation of this technique in 1954), health care workers, dental workers, and public safety administrators (Viergever, 2019).

                Research tools may be analyzed either qualitatively or quantitatively, the means by which is entirely determined by the nature of the respective tool as some tools are specifically designed to collect and project data by means of one or the other (Babbie, 2015). In the case of the critical incident technique discussed above, it is solely designed to be a qualitative research tool. This doesn’t, however, mean that quantitative data cannot be determined by implementing other research tools in conjunction with the qualitative data collected. But, given the nature of the critical incident technique being used to determine factors, events, and behaviors associated with a professional role, the results are necessary in a qualitative form (Viergever, 2019).


Babbie, E. (2015). The practice of social research (14th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Viergever, R. F. (2019). The critical incident technique: Method or methodology? Qualitative Health Research, 29(7), 1065–1079. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732318813112

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