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Qualitative Research: Is this a Qualitative Study?


Qualitative research is defined as research that derives data from observation, interviews, or verbal interactions and focuses on the meanings and interpretations of the participants. (Holloway and Wheeler, 1995).

Qualitative vs. quantitative research (from Xavier University Library).

Qualitative research can be challenging to find as these methodologies are not always well-indexed in bibliographic databases. This help guide will provide some tips and information to guide you in your search for qualitative research articles through databases, such as PsycINFO and Medline/PubMed as well as the Grey Literature.


Evaluation Schemes

Reading Articles & Identifying Methods

When reviewing research that you have found, start by reading the abstract in order to identify the methodologies used in the study.  Research articles should also include a section that describes the methods used in more detail.  

Not all quantitative or qualitative studies will include the same clues present in the examples on this page. Read articles carefully to understand the methodologies used.

Identifying Quantitative Research - Example One

This abstract has several indications that this is a quantitative study:

  • the goal of the study was examining relationships between several variables
  • the researchers used statistical methods (logistic regression models)
  • subjects completed questionnaires
  • the study included a large number of subjects


Identifying Quantitative Research - Example Two

This abstract has several indications that this is a qualitative study:

  • the goal of the study was to explore the subjects' experiences
  • the researchers conducted open-ended interviews
  • the researchers used thematic analysis when reviewing the interviews


Based on Eastern Michigan University Library