How do I distinguish betweem quantitative and qualitative research in the nursing literature?
A good place to start is the nursing database CINAHL Complete. First check the box for "Research Article" and set the "Journal Subset" Box to "Nursing." Then search your topic. Your search will yield nursing-research articles that are quantitative or qualitative or some combination of the two.
To tell whether a research article is quantitative or qualitative, click the title and scan the description, especially the Major Subjects and Minor Subjects.
Descriptions of quantitative research (quantitative = quantities = numbers = statistics) will contain phrases such as chi square, inferential statistics, and analysis of variance. Controlled trials are always quantitative.
Descriptions of qualitative research will often contain the phrase qualitative studies. Other phrases that signal qualitative research are action research, ethnographic research, ethnological research, ethnonursing research, grounded theory, naturalistic inquiry, and phenomenological research.
Research articles described as case studies are often qualitative but may be quantitative.
Here's an example of quantitative research. Note that the Minor Subjects include Pearson's Correlation Coefficient, T-Tests, and descriptive statistics.
Here's an example of qualitative research. Note that the Minor Subjects include qualitative studies.