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Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Searching the Literature

Suggested Databases

Searching for Quantitative Research

When you begin a search for Quantitative Research, make sure to use a number of databases, as no single database covers all the literature that is out there.  Develop a robust search strategy so that your search results will help you fin relevant literature for your needs.  Below are some search tips and strategies that will guide you in the right direction.

Basic Quantitative Search Tips:

  • Break your research topic into keywords. Include quantitative as a keyword in your search.
  • Look at Major subjects, Minor subjects and controlled vocabulary for the word "quantitative" or any quantitative methods or data.
  • Read the methods section of an article.  The methods section describes the research methods used in the article. 
  • The presence of any statistical tests may provide a clue that the article employs a quantitative research design.


Controlled Vocabulary

Databases index their records using controlled vocabulary.  PubMed for example uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) as their indexing system for controlled vocabulary. Different databases use different indexing strategies.  In PubMed, the term "qualitative research" is indexed as "Qualitative Research", while in CINAHL it is indexed as "Qualitative Studies".  Other subject headings to think about using can include: "Validation Studies as Topic", "Statistical Distributions", "Mathematical Concepts", "Evaluation Studies as Topic", "Investigative Techniques" or "Meta-Analysis as Topic".

Free text keywords

Use selective free text keywords to search in Titles, Abstracts or Keywords of records held in the databases to identify Quantitative Research. Selective keywords include quantitative, survey, validity, variance, correlation and statistical.


Example of Quantitative keywords
  • Ci square
  • Correlation
  • Data
  • Distribution
  • Experiment
  • Pretest
  • Posttest
  • Quantitative
  • Reliability
  • Statistical
  • T-test
  • Time series
  • Validity
  • Variable
  • Variance

adapted from: Walden University. Q. How do I find a quantitative article?

Searching in CINAHL

There is no easy way to specify quantitative studies in CINAHL.

Make sure you use the CINAHL Subject Heading (MH "Quantitative Studies") in your search

Randomized Controlled Trials (check box or in the Publication Type menu) are often quantitative, or at least have a quantitative aspect.

 Use the Publication Type menu:

  • Equations and Formulas
  • Statistics
  • Tables and Charts
  • Randomized Controlled Trials (if you haven't already done a search with the check box, see above)
    (you can select more than one option in the drop down box by using CTRL-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac))

Graph and Chart are available from the more limited Image Quick View check boxes (bottom of the Limits menu), as well. Results will be mostly 1-click full text, unlike the Publication Type menu options above.

Credit: Roger State University Nursing Research Guide: