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LIB 220: Intro to Interpersonal Communication for Health Professionals: Quantitative & Qualitative Research

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Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research

Some LIB 220 instructors may want you to use both quantitative and qualitative research articles in your class work. This guide will provide a quick overview and example of both types of research articles. For more information, you may also wish to review the Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research page on the INF 220 LibGuide.

At a Glance:

Quantitative =

Research based on traditional scientific methods, which generates numerical data and usually seeks to establish causal relationships between two or more variables, using statistical methods to test the strength and significance of the relationships. Some methods include clinical trials and surveys.

Qualitative =

Research that seeks to provide understanding of human experience, perceptions, motivations, intentions, and behaviors based on description and observation and utilizing a naturalistic interpretative approach to a subject and its contextual setting. Some methods include interviews and focus groups.

Example of a Quantitative Research Article

How can we tell the following abstract is for a quantitative research article? (to see the full sized version, please go to:


Pay attention to the Methods and Results sections in particular. This Methods section specifically mentions how participants were assessed - both through hearing tests and by completing several surveys.  The Results section gives us exact percentages and data, which should be elaborated on in the body of the article.

Methods: Study participants were assessed using pure tone audiometry, aided speech understanding in quiet (CNC words) and in noise (AzBio sentences at +10 and +5 dB SNR) in the sound field with unilateral and bilateral hearing aids fit to target. Participants completed subjective scales of quality of life, (Health Utilities Index Mark 3), hearing disability, (Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale) and a device use satisfaction scale.  Results: Aided bilateral mean speech understanding scores were 28% for CNC words and 31%, and 17% for AzBio sentences at a +10 dB, and +5 dB SNR


Lupo, J.E., Biever, A., & Kelsall, D.C. (2020). Comprehensive hearing aid assessment in adults with bilateral severe-profound sensorineural hearing loss who present for Cochlear implant evaluation. American Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery, 41(2).

Example of a Qualitative Research Article

How can we tell the following abstract is for a qualitative research article? (to see the full sized version, please go to:



Again, look at the Methods and Results section of the abstract. Interviews are clearly denoted as the research method. And while the Results section does list some specific percentages, it goes on to describe the several larger themes that were discovered after the researchers "transcribed, coded, and analyzed" the interview responses. Results sections of qualitative articles will often include quotes from participants and descriptions of larger themes as opposed to being heavy on the statistics and numerical data.


Methods: We conducted a series of semi-structured telephone interviews (25-45 minutes) about facilitators and barriers of implementing the SMILE decision-aid tool with 23 lupus care providers (18 physicians, 5 champions), and leaders of two patient advocacy organizations. Interviews were audio recorded,  transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Results: [. . .] Several specific factors, composed as four themes, were identified that could either facilitate or impede the implementation of the SMILE tool: (1) patient-related theme: patient recruitment and education, and the clinic visit time; (2) clinic-related theme: staff work-load and time, and physical space to view and use the SMILE tool; (3) technology-related theme: Wi-Fi connection and iPad navigation; (4) management-related theme: influence on the clinic's daily workflow, the need of a study champion and coordination, and leadership support.


Qu, H., Hu, X., & Singh, J.A. (2019). Factors influencing implementation of a computerized, individualized, culturally tailored lupus decision aid in lupus clinics: A qualitative semi-structured interview study. Clinical Rheumatology, 38, 2793-2801.

Practice: Identifying Qualitative and Quantitative Research Articles

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