When searching for qualitative research it is important that you search across a range of databases, as no single database covers all the literature. The decision regarding which databases to search depends largely upon your research topic. Journal databases also provide search hints and tips in the help menu - start there if you are not familiar with the database.
Developing a robust search strategy will help reduce irrelevant results. It is good practice to plan a strategy before you start to search.
Databases categorize their records using subject terms or controlled vocabularies (Thesauri). These Subject Headings vary for each database, for example Medline uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) for its indexing system. The term 'qualitative research' is indexed as "Qualitative Research" or "Nursing Methodology Research" in Medline, and as "Qualitative Studies" in CINAHL. Related Subject Headings such as Focus Groups, Interviews, or Descriptive Research can also be useful. Combine searches with topic Subject Headings to locate qualitative research.
Use selective free text keywords to search in Titles, Abstracts or Keywords of records held in the databases to identify Qualitative Research. Selective keywords include terms like phenomenological, "lived experience", "grounded theory", "life experiences", "focus groups" or interview.
Databases enable sets of results to be limited or filtered by specific fields. Determine your search conditions, such as Publication Type, Clinical Queries or Publication Year and apply them to your search.