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Qualitative Research Methods

Course Number: MU606

Subject: Music Therapy

Research help

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Scholarly sources

In general, when looking for previous research in music therapy, you will be consulting and citing three formats:

journal articles

Mitchell, E. (2019). Community music therapy and participatory performance: Case study of a coffee house. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 19(1).


Silverman, M. J. (2015). Music therapy in mental health for illness management and recovery. Oxford University Press.

book chapters

Ahonen, Heidi. (2016). Adult Trauma Work in Music Therapy. In: The Oxford Handbook of Music Therapy. Ed. Jane Edwards. Oxford University Press. 268-288.

What is a library database?

A library database is an online searchable collection of information, often in the form of references to articles, books, and book chapters (but also newspaper articles, thesis, music, etc). These examples offer a glimpse of how databases are used.


Lee, J. (2015). The effects of music on pain: A review of systematic reviews and meta-analysis (see page 33)

Scholarly Article

Alvarenga, W., Leite, A., Oliveira, M., Nascimento, L., Silva-Rodrigues, F., Nunes, M., & Carvalho, E. (2017). The Effect of Music on the Spirituality of Patients: A Systematic Review. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 36(2), 192–204.

Systematic Review

Magee WL, Clark I, Tamplin J, Bradt J. Music interventions for acquired brain injury. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 1. (see Methods)

Database searching tips
  1. Tutorial: Developing a research question: for graduate students
  2. Consider word variations and synonyms
    • think about how others might refer to your ideas
    • e.g, child death, perinatal death, neonatal death, stillbirth, sudden infant death, etc.
  3. Search Tactics


    What is the tactic?

    What does the tactic do? Examples
    Boolean AND

    Use AND to ensure that all terms appear in every search result.

    depression AND home care

    Boolean OR

    Use OR to ensure that at least one term appears in every search result.

    auditory OR acoustic OR sound

    Phrase searching Use quotation marks to find more than one term in a row.

    vibroacoustic therapy

    Truncation Use an asterisk* at the end of a term to include multiple endings. (sometimes $)


    trauma, traumatic, traumatically, traumatize, traumatized, traumatizing

    Wildcard Use a question mark ? within a term to search for variations of a single character.


    decolonize, decolonise

    Proximity Use NEAR/n to search for terms within n words of each other (sometimes ADJ/n) "music therapy" NEAR/5 child* OR adolescent*

    Tutorial: Better searching using AND, OR, NOT 

  4. Employ search limiters (available limiters depend on the database)
    • peer reviewed, article type, date
    • e.g, in PsycInfo, can include: age group, population group, methodology
  5. Identify key publications and authors
    • note citations, and cited references, repeated author names
  6. Document and track everything you do in the steps above
Books and ebooks

Tutorial: Finding books in Omni
Tutorial: Requesting books from other libraries in Omni


Tutorial: Finding scholarly articles on a topic

Search in Omni

  • limit to "Articles" and "Peer-reviewed journals"
  • article content in Omni is not chosen or curated, but dumped in, i.e, it may not have everything on a particular topic.

Researchers rely on curated collections of content according to discipline

Other interdisciplinary subject databases that may be helpful depending on your topic

Other considerations

Predatory journals

Predatory journals are a global threat. They accept articles for publication — along with authors’ fees — without performing promised quality checks for issues such as plagiarism or ethical approval. (Grudniewicz, A., Moher, D., Cobey, K. D., Bryson, G. L., Cukier, S., Allen, K., & Ardern, C. (2019). Predatory journals: no definition, no defence. Nature, 576(7786), 210+)

Research methodologies


Greenhalgh, T. (2019). How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine and Healthcare. (6th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Grant, M., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91–108.

Dissertations and Theses 

Dissertations and theses may be considered scholarly sources since they are closely supervised by a dissertation committee made up of scholars, are directed at an academic audience, are extensively researched, follow research methodology, and are cited in other scholarly work.

However, dissertations are still considered student work and are not peer-reviewed. Always clarify with your instructor as to whether you can include and cite dissertations and theses in your research.

Music therapy journals

It is helpful to know about the prominent music therapy journals (Edwards, 2016, p. 711) if you want to stay on top of current research in this field, or to know which journals to "hand-search." While you can browse and search these journals, all of these titles are indexed in RILM where a more efficient search on a topic can be completed.

related journals

APA Style Guide

The Laurier Library owns print copies of the APA Style Guide, but not the electronic version. Most information you will need to guide you for this class will be found on the APA Style guide website.

Remember that the APA Style Guide is more than just information on how to cite, it is also prescribes rules about how to write. Since in this class you are reviewing anti-oppressive principals, consider the APA guidelines: