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Quantitative Studies

How to identify quantitative studies in health databases

Purpose of this Libguide

This Libguide provides a starting point on identifying quantitative evidence using health-related databases.

Things to Consider

“Quantitative research deals with data that are numerical or that can be converted into numbers" (Judithe Sheard, 2018).

You should consider incorporating the following to aid in identifying the quantitative evidence:

  • research that falls under the broad context of being quantitative (e.g. observational studies, clinical trials),
  • research that employs a specific data collection method or statistical analysis (e.g. chart review, CHI square), or
  • research that incorporates a specific methodology (e.g. randomized controlled trial, case control, cohort)

The nature of your research question may require you to search outside of the health databases (e.g. BIOSIS Previews, clinicaltrials.gov).

You could use pre-tested strategies, know as filters, to identify the quantitative evidence that is findable in the major biomedical databases. Filters exist for most types of experimental designs. They may be comprised of controlled vocabulary and keywords relating to study type, as well as the methodological description of an experimental design. Please consult the search filter tab below for more information.

Controlled Vocabulary and Keywords

This is not an exhaustive list of controlled vocabulary or keywords. This is intended to help you get started.

MeSH

(i.e. Controlled Vocabulary)

Randomized Controlled Trial

Clinical Study

Clinical Trial as Topic

Meta-Analysis

Statistics as Topic

Probability

Data Collection

"Surveys and Questionnaires"

Data Analysis

 

Keywords

Randomi* control* trial*

RCT*

Clinical Trial*

Survey*

Questionnaire*

Quasi-experiment*

Quasiexperiment*

 

 

This is not an exhaustive list of controlled vocabulary or keywords. This is intended to help you get started. 

Controlled Vocabulary

Randomized Controlled Trial

Clinical Study

"Clinical Trial (topic)"

Meta Analysis

Statistics

Probability

Data Collection Method

Questionnaire

Types of Study

Quasi Experimental Study

Keywords

Randomi* control* trial*

RCT*

Clinical Trial*

Survey*

Questionnaire*

Quasi-experiment*

Quasiexperiment*

 

This is not an exhaustive list of controlled vocabulary or keywords. This is intended to help you get started.  

Controlled Vocabulary

Randomized Controlled Trial

Quantitative Studies

Clinical Trials

Meta Analysis

Statistics

Probability

Surveys

Data Analysis, Statistical

Kewords

Randomi* control* trial*

RCT*

Clinical Trial*

Survey*

Questionnaire*

Quasi-experiment*

Quasiexperiment*

 

This is not an exhaustive list of keywords. This is intended to help you get started.   

Keywords

Randomi* control* trial*

RCT*

Clinical Trial*

Survey*

Questionnaire*

Quasi-experiment*

Quasiexperiment*

 

Consider the following when selecting a search filter:

  • year it was created and updated
    • new controlled vocabulary terms are added to a databases frequently
  • specific to a database
    • search filters are not interchangeable across databases 
  • creation and testing of the filter
    • compared to another search filter
    • captured a list of  pre-determined citations
    • derived using a pre-defined set of journals across different publishing years 

Below are a few institutions that have developed search filters. This is not an exhaustive list:

SIGN Filters

CADTH's Database of Search Filters

HiRU Hedges

Cochrane Search Filters

BMJ Best Practice Study Design Search Filter

Search Tips

When using controlled vocabulary (i.e. Subject Headings, e.g. MeSH, EMTREE) look at the scope note to identify whether the scope is too broad or narrow (e.g. Statistics as Topic) for your project. The scope note will provide searching insight:

  • as it includes a definition, when the subject heading came into use (i.e. Year of Entry), and previous indexing
  • as it provides a list of “used for” terminology which will inform keyword searches, and related controlled vocabulary
Review the Tree structure for the controlled vocabulary term to identify broader and narrower terms.
Click here to learn more about wildcards and truncations.