Nursing research is usually either "quantitative" or "qualitative."
Quantitative research: An experiment is conducted from which data are collected and quantified in some fashion, i.e. counted, or analyzed numerically.
Look for words like these: Compare, Assess, Evaluate, Measure, Test
Qualitative research: The data collected is more descriptive of people's beliefs, attitudes, etc. and is gathered through methods such as interviews and focus groups.
Look for words like these: Identify, Explore, Describe, Explain
Sheahan, S., & Fields, B. (2008). Sodium dietary restriction, knowledge, beliefs, and decision-making behavior of older females. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 20(4), 217-224.
Zheng, R., Fu, Y., Zhu, J., Xu, J., Xiang, Q., Chen, L., … Yu, C. (2018). Long-term low-dose morphine for patients with moderate cancer pain is predominant factor effecting clinically meaningful pain reduction. Supportive Care in Cancer, 26(12), 4115–4120.
To find articles reporting research conducted using qualitative methods, select a database in your subject area from our A-Z list at https://libguides.castleton.edu/az.php and see if the Advanced Search interface will allow you to select qualitative as a search limiter - for example, in CINAHL, you can select the Qualitative options under Clinical Queries, and in PsycINFO, you can select Qualitative Study under Methodology. If these limiters aren't available, you can add the keyword qualitative to your search. Or it may be necessary to review the scholarly articles you find on your topic to determine yourself if they are qualitative.
Guidance for reading papers
"An empirical research article is an article which reports research based on actual observations or experiments. The research may use quantitative research methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables. Empirical research articles may use qualitative research methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis."*
Articles that discuss original research usually have the following format: