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Understanding Scholarly/Academic Research

Learn about research formats & methodology, credibility & relevance, peer-review & scholarly as well as impact metrics when choosing research content

Quantitative research methodologies involve pre-determined instrument-based questions

  • data from research can be turned into statistics,
  • any defined variable, including opinion, attitudes or beliefs can be quantified statistically, 
  • findings can be used to generalize results to larger sample populations eg. scholarly research
  • collection methods for the data are very structured and include: some types of surveys,  interviews, longitudinal studies, and systematic observations.
  • the statistics in a research paper are usually in the methods or methodology section 
  • a discussion of findings are found in the discussion section.
  • can include: Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, Correlational (e.g. explanatory, prediction), Survey (e.g. cross-sectional, longitudinal)


Qualitative research methodologies emerge through study and open ended questions

  • primarily exploratory research used to understand underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations, 
  • can help develop ideas for future quantitative research,
  • the data collection methods vary but tend to be, unstructured or semi-structured and can include: focus groups, group discussions, individual interviews, and participation/observations, 
  • usually has a small sample size and the subjects are chosen to fill a quota,
  • the conclusions are not generalizable to other populations due to sample size and methodology.
  • can include: Grounded Theory; Historical Research; Ethnography; Phenomenology; Narrative Inquiry; Case Study Research; Critical Ethnography; Action Research and Mixed Methods.


Ways to Limit by Methodology in the Library Databases

  • add "quantitative" or "qualitative" as a keyword in your search e.g. "climate change" AND impacts AND quantitative
  • use Find function in article text and search for methodology e.g. quantitative
  • view Methods section in an article
  • in CINAHL change the view in results to Page Options - Detailed - to look for charts and images
  • click on title link and look for methodology in the minor subject description




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