Identification of Journal Articles

Databases Used 

With the assistance of a librarian, a search was conducted using the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of Science database.  We searched two databases within the ISI Web of Science The Science Citation Index Expanded 1980 to present and the Social Science Citation Index 1980 to Present. 


The benefit of using these ISI Web of Science databases is that each relevant entry included the number of times that article was cited in other scholarly works.  This provided a straightforward way identify the most "important" (highly utilized) qualitative research journal publications and a way to rank order the journal articles we identified in our search.   

Search Strategy 

Our search was conducted in December of 2005.  The search was conducted as follows:

  • STEP 1 -- the terms "qualitative" and "research" were used.  This search identified 12,376 articles.  The results of this search contained many irrelevant articles. 
  • STEP 2 -- a series of subsequent searchs were conducted using terms specifying commonly used qualitative methods.  Search terms included: "qualitative and participatory," "qualitative and observation," "qualitative and conversation," "qualitative and discourse," 'qualitative and narrative," qualitative and focus group," "qualitative and interview." The results from these individual searches were combined using a series of "or" terms to eliminate duplication.  This yielded 11,393 hits. 
  • STEP 3 -- The results of the searchs conducted in steps 1 and 2 were combined to yield a database of 14,499 references.  This was the database we started to work on.

Citation information for each article, including the number of times this article was cited in other published journal articles was exported to an endnote file and later converted to an excel file. 

Reviewing for Relevance

Using these files, each article was reviewed for relevance.  Even with our search strategy, there were a large number of articles in the areas of physics and the environmental sciences that were not relevant to our search.  These were eliminated. 

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