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NURS 200W: Principles of Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Janet Knott

Finding Research Articles

Searching for Qualitative and Quantitative Studies and the Basic Search Process

Basic Search for Qualitative Studies in CINAHL

Sample CINAHL search showing "qualitative Studies" in the first search box with the option set to MW Word in Subject, and "diabetes type 1" in the second search box

Basic Search for Quantitative Studies in CINAHL

Sample search from CINAHL showing "quantitative studies" in the first search box with MW Word in Subject selected as the option, and "multiple sclerosis" in the second search box.

Also consider using specific text words in your search such as: ethnography*, phenomenology*,  grounded theory*, purposive sample, hermeneutic*, heuristic*, semiotics, lived experience*, narrative*, life experiences, cluster sample, observational method*, content analysis, field stud*, theoretical sample, discourse analysis, focus group*, interview, ethnomethodology*

Searching for Qualitative Studies in PubMed

Search Process 

Characteristics and Differences of Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Characteristics Qualitative Quantitative
Definitions Investigations which use sensory methods such as listening or observing to gather and organize data into patterns or themes. (CINAHL) Scientific Investigations in which numbers are used to measure valuables such as characteristics, concepts, or things. (CINAHL)
Word Clues

Ethnographic study
Field notes
Field research
Focus Group
Open ended

Case-control study
Clinical trial
Cohort studies
Control group
Experimental group Intervention
Structured Questionnaire


Focus groups
Recording behavior
Unstructured observation

Develop hypothesis
Determines methodology
Collects data
Analyzes data
Uses mathematical and statistical techniques to analyze data
Search Terms Qualitative Studies (CINAHL)
Qualitative Research (MEDLINE)
Quantitative Studies (CINAHL)
MEDLINE uses headings for specific types of quantitative research. See the examples listed under word clues

Narrative description


Researcher Role Subjective — involved as a participant observer Objective — separate, observes, but doesn't participate

What is a Research Article?

An original research article is a journal article in which the author/s have conducted a research experiment of their own by observing, recording, or analyzing data. They are not reporting on research done by others (as in a systematic review), giving their opinion or arguing for a particular policy.

Look for: a METHODS section