Skip to Main Content

Research Methods: Finding quantitative research

A guide to research methods, and search strategies for finding research.

General strategies for finding quantitative research

When searching for Quantitative 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 aren't 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.


Basic search tips

  • Break your research topic into keywords.
  • Use Boolean operators to connect your search terms or keywords together to either narrow or broaden the results. The three basic boolean operators are: AND, OR, and NOT.
  • Use parentheses, quotation marks, and/or asterisks with your search terms to create a search phrase.


Subject headings

Databases categorize their records using subject terms or controlled vocabularies (Thesauri). These Subject Headings vary for each database, for example PubMed uses Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) for its indexing system. Quantitative research is not directly indexed in PubMed but can be located by using subject terms including:  "Validation Studies as Topic", "Statistical Distributions", "Mathematical Concepts", "Evaluation Studies as Topic" "Investigative Techniques" or "Meta-Analysis as Topic". Combine searches with topic Subject Headings to locate quantitative research.


Free text keywords

Use selective free text keywords to search in Titles, Abstracts or Keywords of records held in the databases to identify Quantitative Research. Selective keywords include quantitative, survey, validity, variance, correlation and statistical.