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Qualitative Research: How do I search?

Web based resources on Qualitative Research

Encyclopaedias, Dictionaries, Handbooks


A guide to using Qualitative research methodology

This guide to using qualitative research methodology is designed to help you think about all the steps you need to take to ensure that you produce a good quality piece of work. The guide starts by telling you what qualitative methodology is and when to use it in the field (understand people’s belief system, perspectives, experiences). It also flags the most important ethical issues that you will encounter.

The second part of the guide tackles how you can concretely develop qualitative research designs. The third part details how you can actually obtain the data - what methods can you use to get the information you want?

How to use qualitative research evidence when making decisions about interventions

This guide has been developed to help people working in health promotion and disease prevention to make better use of qualitative research evidence. Qualitative research can provide valuable evidence and information to guide your decision making about interventions, policy and practice.

National statement on ethical conduct in human research (2007) (Updated May 2015). Chapter 3.1: Qualitative methods.

Qualitative research involves disciplined inquiry that examines people’s lives, experiences and behaviours, and the stories and meanings individuals ascribe to them.[4] It can also investigate organisational functioning, relationships between individuals and groups, and social environments. Approaches to data collection and guidelines for qualitative research are discussed here.


Fundamentals of qualitative research [Yale University]

Qualitative research is a strategy for systematic collection, organization, and interpretation of phenomena that are difficult to measure quantitatively. Dr. Leslie Curry of Yale University takes you through six modules covering essential topics in qualitative research, including what is qualitative research and how to use the most common methods, in-depth interviews and focus groups.

How to search for qualitative literature in databases

The databases used for the literature search will vary according to the topic of the qualitative research. Some of the major databases used for this purpose are listed below.


PubMed includes saved search strategies (queries) that may help in the identification of literature relevant to health services research, including qualitative research:

  • Go to PubMed
  • Under PubMed Tools, choose Topic-Specific Queries.
  • Choose Health Services Research (HSR) Queries.
  • Select category Qualitative Research and choose narrow (usually preferable) or broad scope.  [Note:  To see what this actually searches, click on filter table.]
  • Type topic terms in search box and click Go.

The narrow qualitative query looks for the words qualitative and themes in titles and abstracts of articles.  A modification of this strategy is linked below.  It includes the MeSH term Qualitative Research, which was added to the MeSH vocabulary in 2003.  Click on the strategy to run the search in PubMed.  You may then add other concepts to the search.

qualitative research [MeSH] OR qualitative [tiab] OR themes [tiab]


After selecting CINAHL, scroll down to the search options amd Limit the set to Clinical Queries. Select within the drop-down Clinical Queries menu: Qualitative-High Sensitivity; Qualitative-High Specificity; Qualitative-Best Balance. High Sensitivity is the broadest search, to include ALL relevant material, but may also include less relevant materials. High Specificity is the most targeted search to include only the most relevant result set, but may miss some relevant materials. Best Balance retrieves the best balance between Sensitivity and Specificity.

Alternatively tick the box for “Suggest subjects terms”, enter the phrase “Qualitative research” and select the most appropriate heading on the list by ticking the box next to it. 

Showcases highly relevant educational video across key social science disciplines. Each collection includes a breadth of video types to support diverse research and learning needs. All videos are fully citable with searchable transcripts, custom clip creation and embedding. Note: You can also access SAGE Research Methods: Video via SAGE Video.

SAGE Research Methods

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, and so can be used in health sciences, social sciences and other disciplines.

Type “Qualitative Research” in the search box to see a large range of resources on the topic. Alternatively, click on “Methods Lists” – “All Methods Lists” to select – “Qualitative Research” or “Qualitative Data Analysis”

Another way of doing this is to select the “Methods Map” – pulldown box from “Methodologies” and then make the following choices:

Methodology »  Concepts & philosophies »  Research methods »  Qualitative research

Includes 480+ streaming videos covering every aspect of the research process and hundreds of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods. Includes hours of tutorials, interviews, video case studies, and mini-documentaries covering the entire research process. Find videos made with expert researchers from leading research institutions, your favourite SAGE authors, great teachers, and more. Browse by Method, Discipline or Video Type.

Cochrane Qualitative and Implementation Methods Group

The focus of this group is on methods and processes involved in the synthesis of qualitative evidence and the integration of qualitative evidence with Cochrane intervention reviews of effects. The purpose being to advise the Cochrane Collaboration and its network of people on policy and practice and qualitative evidence synthesis, develop and maintain methodological guidance, and provide training to those undertaking Cochrane reviews. 


Summary of qualitative philosophy, methodologies and methods

Source: Joanna Briggs Institute. (2011). Joanna Briggs Institute reviewers' manual: 2011 edition. Retrieved from

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