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Health Sciences Advanced Search

This guide is designed from postgraduate level students working on primary research projects or dissertations.

Qualitative & Quantitative

In Health Sciences research, the literature you see will be either qualitative or quantitative or simple information.

Qualitative research contains descriptive data (the sensory - listening, observing, etc.) and focuses on interpretive discussion about meanings, themes or patterns.

Quantitative research contains variables and numerical values that measure something (concepts, constructs, etc.)


You could use the words qualitative or quantitative as keyword search terms to retrieve a few articles, but this is NOT the best strategy. For those words to be effective as search terms, publishing industry personnel must know what those two research types are and then label the articles correctly.

For the words qualitative and quantitative to be effective as search terms, the terms must appear in an article title or an article abstract. However, many research articles will state the specific Research Method (randomized controlled trial, interview, longitudinal study) instead of using the more broad (and less exact terms) qualitative or quantitative.


Choose search terms that target specific types of research methods which produce either qualitative or quantitative results:

  • RCT
  • Meta Analysis
  • Co-Relational study
  • Case Study
  • Focus Group
  • Survey
  • Questionnaire
  • Observational study

Use these terms in search boxes instead of qualitative or quantitative.

For more detailed information about searching for Qualitative and Quantitative Research, see these handouts.