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Finding Qualitative & Quantitative Research Articles

For Students in BS Respiratory Care Program


CINAHL: Qualitative Studies

Tips for Locating Qualitative Research in CINAHL

Subject Heading Strategies

  • Qualitative Studies is a major subject heading in CINAHL. Explode the Qualitative Studies subject heading, and see what you get. Explode will include the following CINAHL Headings: Action Research, Ethnographic Research, Ethnological Research, Ethnonursing Research, Grounded Theory, Naturalistic Inquiry, Phenomenological Research.

  • Experiment with related CINAHL subject headings such as Focus Groups, Narratives, Interviews (explode Interviews to include Semi-Structured Interview, Structured Interview, Unstructured Interview), Descriptive Research, Descriptive Statistics, Audiorecording, Videorecording, Diaries, Observational Methods (explode to include Non-Participant Observation, Participant Observation, Structured Categories, Unstructured Categories), Projective Techniques (explodes to include Pictorial Methods, Verbal Projective Techniques), Vignettes, etc.

Keyword Searching Strategies

Try adding adding a keyword that might specifically identify qualitative research, including:


You might also try the following terms listed below.

But, if you find yourself needing to try these terms after having tried the specific limiters suggested above and using the term qualitative, you may want to first reassess your other keywords or ask the librarians for help before trying these terms listed below.

ethnograph* or phenomenol* or ethnonurs* or "grounded theor*" or "purposive sample" or hermeneutic* or heuristic*or semiotics or "lived experience*" or narrative* or "life experiences" or "cluster sample" or  "action research" or "observational method" or "content analysis" or "thematic analysis" or "constant comparative method" or "field stud*" or "theoretical sample" or "discourse analysis" or  "focus group*" or "ethnological research" or  ethnomethodolog* or interview*

The terms listed above are different types of qualitative research.

Search Using Database Limiters

Refine/limit your search with Clinical Queries. Select within the following options. The search strategies behind the limiter values are listed below: 

  • Qualitative - High Sensitivity:

    ((MH “study design+” not MM “study design+”) or MH “attitude” or (MH “interviews+” not MM “interviews+”))

  • Qualitative - High Specificity:

    ((MH “grounded theory” not MM “grounded theory”) or (TI thematic analysis or AB thematic analysis or MW thematic analysis))

  • Qualitative - Best Balance:

    ((TI interview or AB interview) or (MH “audiorecording” not MM “audiorecording”) or (TI qualitative stud* or AB qualitative stud*))

Refine/Limit the set to Publication Types that are qualitative by definition, for example Anecdote, Interview, Metasynthesis, etc.

CINAHL: Quantitative Studies

Tips for Locating Quantitative Studies in CINAHL

Subject Search Strategies

In CINAHL Quantitative Studies is a minor search heading and does not offer robust subject search strategies. You cannot "explode" Quantitative Studies to drill down to certain types of quantitative studies, as you can do with the Qualitative Studies subject heading. 

In addition to trying to use the Quantitative Studies subject heading, you could also limit by RANDOMIZED CONTROL TRIALS. After that, try selecting PUBLICATION TYPES that are likely to contain quantitative research. Select only Clinical Trial and/or Randomized Controlled Trial.  These are types of quantitative studies.

Mixed Methods Research Design

CINAHL has the following Subject Headings that may be of use: Multimethod Studies or Triangulation

You can also search your topic with the following suggested text words:

  • mixed model* or mixed design* or multiple method* or multimethod* or triangulat*

How is CINAHL Plus with Full Text different from PubMed?

PubMed CINAHL Plus with Full Text 
Coverage: 1940’s to date Coverage: 1937 to date
Indexes 5600 journals Indexes 5000 journals in nursing and allied health
Includes citations to journal articles primarily Includes citations to journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, AVs, nurse practice acts, Evidence-Based Care Sheets, research instruments, etc.
Focuses on biomedical literature Focuses on nursing and allied health literature
Uses MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) as its controlled vocabulary Based on MeSH with additional CINAHL (nursing and allied health) subject headings
Not possible to limit search to peer-reviewed journals Peer Reviewed journal limit available
Does not include cited references from the end of articles Includes cited references listed at the end of many articles