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NUR 311: Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Course guide developed by your Librarian

Quantitative v Qualitative Studies

For this course, you will be expected to find a number of qualitative and quantitative research studies. Here is a brief description of the differences between the two:

  • Qualitative research: Characterizes, but does not measure. Qualitative data is not numeric and is often subjective.  Researchers use qualitative data to look for motivation and points of view. The data is often collected from essay questions, focus groups, interviews, case studies, portfolios, and “open-ended” questions, using a small sample or even a single case. Responses are not easily a analyzed. 
  • Quantitative research: Measures, but does not characterize. Quantitative data is numeric, statistically reliable, and objective.  Researchers use quantitative data to look for facts and causes. The data is collected from “closed” questions, multiple choice tests, true/false questions, and scales, using a large sample. Quantitative data is easily analyzed using software.

CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) is a nursing database you will be using frequently and is the resource for finding quantitative and qualitative research studies in nursing. 

Searching in CINAHL Database

Search steps:

1) Select the major terms used to describe your topic

  • Use the term OR in between terms to broaden your search and get more results, or to look for terms that have lots of synonyms
    • Example: Vaccination OR Immunization

2) You may also want to select additional terms to describe a specific population, outcome, or aspect of your topic

  • Example: Children OR Juveniles 

3) Select terms that indicate what kind of research you are looking for

  • Example: Quantitative OR Randomized Control Trial

You can search for a specific date range. You can choose to include month and year or just year. If you want to search up to the present, leave the second month and year spots blank.

To find articles written by Nurses or in Nursing journals, scroll down and check the box next to "Any Author is Nurse." You should confirm that the article is in a nursing journal or if an author is a nurse by looking at the first page of the article.

If you are trying to find articles in CINAHL related to the definition or operationalization of a particular nursing concept, consider a search like the one below. 

  • In place of NAME OF CONCEPT, put your particular concept; ie. prevention. 

NAME OF CONCEPT N5 (defin* OR concept* OR operational*) 

N5 tells CINAHL to look for the word you typed for your concept within five (5) words of the word definition, concept, or operational.  This increases the likelihood that your results will be ABOUT your concept rather than articles that simply include the word.

The asterisk (*) used here provides truncation, which allows the search to include variations on a word. For example, defin* will find definition, defined, definer, defines, etc.

Searching in PubMed Database

Search steps:

1) Select the major terms used to describe your topic

  • Use the term OR in between terms to broaden your search and get more results, or to look for terms that have lots of synonyms
    • Example: Vaccination OR Immunization

2) You may also want to select additional terms to describe a specific population, outcome, or aspect of your topic

  • Example: Children OR Juveniles 

3) Select terms that indicate what kind of research you are looking for

  • Example: Quantitative OR Randomized Control Trial OR ANOVA

Group your terms together in parentheses and separate the groups with the word AND.

After you've typed in your search and hit enter, you can narrow your search based on publication dates.

PubMed does not let you search based on the author's credentials. However, you can search specifically for Nursing Journals.

1) Select Show Additional Filters 

2) Click the box next to Journal Categories, then click Show.

3) Select Nursing Journals.