Qualitative research plays an important role in helping us describe, interpret and generate theories about complex phenomena in healthcare. Complete and transparent reporting of research informs readers about the significance and rigor of the work. The aim of this scientometric study was to determine the quality of reporting of qualitative research in nursing social science. Studies were identified by manually searching the table of contents for qualitative papers published in the June (or closest subsequent) 2018 issue of 115 nursing journals. Adherence with the 32-item Consolidated Criteria for REporting Qualitative (COREQ) research was determined for each study by two researchers. Additional information about the study (e.g., sample size, field of nursing) and the publishing journal (e.g., endorsement of COREQ) were also extracted. Using established criteria, COREQ compliance was coded either good (≥ 25 items), moderate (17 to 24), poor (9 to 16), very poor (≤ 8) based on the number of items addressed in each study. One hundred and ninety-seven manuscripts were included. The quality of reporting was generally rated as either moderate (57%) or poor (38%). Journal endorsement of qualitative reporting guidelines was associated with better reporting. The reporting of qualitative research in nursing social science journals is suboptimal. Researchers, authors, reviewers and journal editors need to ensure their papers comprehensively address the requirements of COREQ to ensure comprehensive and transparent reporting of their research.