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Finding, Understanding and Conducting Research Studies


"Qualitative studies generally focus on informant perspectives and behaviors, primary forms of data collection include observations (direct through participant), interviews (individual or group), and/or field documents or artifacts, rather than surveys, instruments, or other types of measurements. Further data collection generally occurs in natural (field) settings, rather than investigator-structured situations or laboratories" (Tripp-Reimer et al., 2017).

To put it in lay terms, qualitative research deals with observing people and asking them to tell about their experiences.

Finding Qualitative Articles

To narrow your search down to just qualitative articles, there are several things that you can do. The one that will work with any database search or with the Search Everything or Search Articles tabs on the library homepage will be to add a search term of qualitative to your search string. See example below:

diabetes AND exercise AND qualitative

There are also things you can do in specific databases to help you narrow to qualitative articles as shown below.

CINAHL and Medline Complete: Clinical Queries Limiter


CINAHL Complete and Medline Complete are databases that allow you to limit your search results to qualitative articles only. 

To find qualitative articles in CINAHL or Medline, follow the steps below:

  1. Enter the databases through the links above. This will take you directly to the advanced search page for both of these databases.
  2. Scroll down to the Limit Your Results section. This is where you can add limits to your search to tell the database that you only want articles that fit specific criteria. 
  3. Locate the Clinical Queries menu. This is a scroll menu where you have several different choices for qualitative studies. They include High Specificity, High Sensitivity, and Best Balance. You can experiment with all of them, but Best Balance often works well.



Tripp-Reimer, T., Ayres, L., Groves, P. S., & Mackin, M. L. (2017). Qualitative research. In J. Fitzpatrick (Ed.), Encyclopedia of nursing research (4th ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

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