Master of Counselling: Evaluation & Research Methods

Types of Research

Quantitative Research is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviours, and other defined variables – and generalise results from a larger sample population. This is generally done through online surveys, paper surveys, face-to-face interviews, telephone interviews, questionnaires and online polls.

Qualitative Research is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations in relation to lived experiences, emotions or behaviours. This is generally done in interviews, open-ended questions, or focus groups (group discussions) and observations.

Mixed Methods Research combines both Qualitative and Quantitative Research methodology.

                  Locating Quantitative & Qualitative Articles

The PsycINFO database allows limiting a search to studies that use a particular methodology. Look for the Methodology box. Qualitative and quantitative are both options there. You can also add the words "qualitative" or "quantitative" to the search. Eg. "substance addiction" AND qualitative  and "substance addiction" AND quantitative   

 Having a particular research methodology in mind, include keywords to describe it in the search. Eg.  "substance addiction" AND survey

Note: Mixed methods articles can appear when you search for "Quantitative Studies" and "Qualitative Studies." 

Books on Research

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Sage Research Methods Database (SRM)

SAGE Research Methods (SRM) is a research methods tool created to help with planning and conducting the research project. Researchers can explore methods and concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings.

There are some useful research tools to guide in conducting research, including the following:

A visual representation of how methods, terms and concepts are related to each other. 

Find books, book chapters, and journal articles on research methods and statistics. You can browse them by specific method or by discipline.

This tool guides you through your research project by going through each stage.

Helps you select the most appropriate statistical test.

# For guidance on searching and using SRM consult the Sage Research Methods LibGuide.

See this introductory video for more details.

Searching for Empirical Articles

The APA defines an empirical study as a "study based on facts, systematic observation, or experiment, rather than theory or general philosophical principle". Empirical studies articles are published in scholarly/ peer-reviewed journals. 

Many databases allow you to limit your search to only empirical studies.  In PsycINFO, look for the Methodology search option and use that menu to refine your search by limiting the articles to Empirical Studies only.

Another strategy for finding empirical studies is to add to your keywords some of the following search terms: empiricalresearch, observation, survey, experiment, findings, "action research"method*, longitudinal study,  "participant group" or participants.

Conducting a Literature Review

A literature review provides a comprehensive review of the literature in a specific area of interest. Preparation of a literature review may be divided into the following steps:

  • Select a specific topic 

You might want to write down a description of the research question, area, or topic that you will be reviewing.

The question frameworks can be helpful in this task.

  • Conduct a literature search

Consult one or more databases to find information on your topic.

# The  Effective Searching page provides further explanation.  

# Check our guide here for detailed insight on finding the grey literature.

  •  Do a quick skim and then read through the whole text

Focus on the Abstract, Introduction and Conclusion to establish usefulness and to get an overview of the main ideas, content and purpose. Summarise and make notes using the matrix.

  • Organise the articles into the sub-themes of your topic 

Identify points on which the articles agree, disagree, or don’t cover at all.

  • Write your review

Like any other academic text, your literature review should have an introduction, a main body, and a conclusion. 

 This video will explain what critical voice is, and how to successfully develop it in your own literature review. (Duration 5:50) 


# Additional information and other tips are featured in the Literature Review libguide.

# See the following sources for more explanation:

Galvan, J. L., & Galvan, M. C. (2017). Writing literature reviews : A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (7th ed.). Taylor and Francis.

Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten simple rules for writing a literature reviewPLoS Computational Biology, 9(7), 1-4.

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelinesJournal of Business Research104, 333–339.

Literature Review Matrix

As you read and evaluate your literature there are several different methods to organise your research. You may consider using the matrix below for your note-taking and analysis:

When you create your own matrix, the first few columns should include (1) the authors, title, journal, (2) publication year, and (3) purpose of the paper. The remaining columns should identify important aspects of each study such as methodology and findings.

The information on this page is from the book below. 

Annotated Bibliography

Annotated bibliographies are sometimes given as a task at the beginning of a research topic. It is to gain a perspective on what is being published about a topic and subsequently assist in writing a literature review. 

# Visit the library guide to learn more about how to create an annotated bibliography

# You may choose to watch these videos: