Research Help Question

Q: How do I find qualitative and quantitative articles on my topic?

Research Help Answer


There is no button or option in the library’s databases you can select to search exclusively for qualitative or quantitative articles.  

  • It is not suggested that you search using keywords such as “qualitative” or “quantitative” because these words rarely show up in the text of a relevant article. 
  • Instead, search for your topic AND keywords based on the characteristics of the kind of research article you are looking for (ie. “post-partem depression AND interview” for a qualitative article). 
  • Select keywords from the explanations of qualitative and quantitative research listed below.


Qualitative Research Studies

Qualitative research generally studies human behavior/experience and often involves surveys and interviews as methods.
Researchers usually compare qualities, such as "good", "painful", "better", "faster", etc.  
Qualitative research often involves a small number of participants (sometimes called a "cohort”) and researchers interview them thoroughly.  It can include numerical data, but it is often comparing results based on perceptions, observations and educated opinions. 
Qualitative research is usually open-ended, and includes suggestions for how to more precisely study what is theorized.
Qualitative research is used in healthcare for studying subjective topics, such as “pain” or “the relationships between nurses and patients.”
The abstract of a qualitative article will sound more like a persuasive argument, with little numerical data.


Quantitative Research Studies

  • Quantitative research is numerical, direct and often studies large groups of people
  • Quantitative research uses statistics to compare precise figures, such as "25% vs. 75%." 
  • The researchers often have a theory in advance, and are using scientific methods to prove the theory with numerical data. 
  • It is often possible to recognize quantitative articles by the precise numerical results they report in the abstract.


WCU Library Services has some helpful guides explaining the differences between qualitative and quantitative research studies.  You can find these guides at:


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