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A quantitative instrument or tool is a necessity in a quantitative research design as it allows the measurement of outcomes from the manipulation of research variables permitting conclusions that describe their relationships. Reliability and validity are the criteria for selecting an instrument. A valid instrument means that it measures the variable it is intended for. In a study which requires measurement of core body temperature, an example of a valid instrument is the pulmonary artery catheter (PAC) with a temperature thermistor attached to it. When compared to other devices, the PAC yields measurements closer to the correct one since it is actually inside the body. On the other hand, an axillary thermometer is not a valid instrument because it measures external or shell temperature.  

A reliable instrument is one that yields accurate measures of the variable. For instance, reliability in the use of a tympanic thermometer means that the device measures a 38 degree Celsius fever when the patient has such a temperature. Conversely, the thermometer is not a reliable instrument when it yields variable temperatures when the patient in fact has a 38 degree fever. Equipment reliability is then expressed in terms of precision or the measured value’s proximity to the actual or correct value. In the case of a thermometer, extensive testing during the production process leads to indications in the manual that the thermometer is  able to measure body temperature plus or minus 0.05 degrees above or below the actual value which, when compared to international standards, may be acceptability. Reliability is important in research in order for conclusions to also be accurate. Still using the same example above, using a thermometer measuring temperature from 0.5 to 1.0 degree from the actual value becomes unreliable because it deviates too much from the actual value.

Code: Sample20

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