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Searching for Sources

Searching for Study Types

Your assignments may ask you to search for a specific type of research study. Use the tips on this page to help you find specific kinds of studies within the library's databases.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

These three strategies can help you locate qualitative and quantitative articles as you search library databases.

  1. Limit your searches to Peer Reviewed articles. (This strategy will provide you with the most results.) Research studies that use qualitative and quantitative methods are published in peer reviewed journals. Not every article in a peer reviewed journal will be a research study, but limiting your results to articles in these journals will help you narrow the pool of articles you are looking through.
    Example from ProQuest.
  2. Use keywords to help you narrow to qualitative or quantitative articles. If the articles you are finding in the peer reviewed literature are overwhelmingly not studies or not qualitative or quantitative it can sometimes be helpful to use keywords to help you locate articles that are one of those types of studies. Some keywords that can be helpful include qualitative, case study, interview, field study, ethnographic, quantitative, experimental, statistic, correlation. These are all terms that are either types of studies or are often used as part of the research method. You can also string together multiple terms with OR to indicate that you want one of the terms as part of your list of results.
    Example from ProQuest 
  3. Use the ProQuest PsycINFO Methodology limiter. (This strategy will provide you with the least number of results.) Use the database ProQuest Education & Psychology Combined. This combined search searches four different ProQuest databases at one time, one of which is PsycINFO. PsycINFO is the only database that we have that actually indexes (notes and makes searchable) the methodology used in a study. This means that you can conduct your search and in the Methodology box check the types of methodology you are interested in locating. You may want to keep your searches to broad topics (e.g. bullying) for this search as it is a psychology database. While there is an overlap between psychology and education, it is a more limited pool of content that you are searching.
    Example from ProQuest PsycINFO

What is Qualitative research? - "an approach to research that is primarily concerned with studying the nature, quality, and meaning of human experience. It asks questions about how people make sense of their experiences, how people talk about what has happened to them and others, and how people experience, manage, and negotiate situations they find themselves in. Qualitative research is interested both in individual experiences and in the ways in which people experience themselves as part of a group. Qualitative data take the form of accounts or observations, and the findings are presented in the form of a discussion of the themes that emerged from the analysis. Numbers are very rarely used in qualitative research."

Willig, C. (2016). Qualitative research. In L. H. Miller (Ed.), The Sage encyclopedia of theory in psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Publications. Retrieved from


What is Quantitative research? - "Quantitative research relies primarily on the collection of quantitative data and has its own, unique set of assumptions and normative practices... Goals include to describe, to predict, and to explain human phenomena."

Quantitative research. (2009). In L. E. Sullivan (Ed.), The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Publications. Retrieved from