Answered By: Library Staff
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2016     Views: 71598

1. What are Empirical Research Articles?

screenshot from an empirical article

Empirical Research is defined as research based on observed and measured phenomena.  It is research that derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.

Requests for "Empirical" articles are usually from instructors in Education or Psychology; most other disciplines will ask for Scholarly, Peer Reviewed or Primary literature.

See if the article mentions a study, an observation, an analysis or a number of participants or subjects. Was data collected, a survey or questionnaire administered, an assessment or measurement used, an interview conducted? All of these terms indicate possible methodologies used in empirical research.

 Empirical articles often contain these sections:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

The sections may be combined, and may have different headings or no headings at all; however, the information that would fall within these sections should be present in an empirical article.

2. You could use the following search devices when using our Databases to find empirical research articles:

screen shot from ebsco psychlitA. PsycINFO and PsychARTICLES. After entering search terms in boxes at top of screen, scroll down to Methodology and select: Empirical Study. Note there are subsets of Empirical Study below this entry that you could use.


screehshot of ERIC ebsco showing empirical search valuesB. ERIC. Type in your search terms and then scroll down the screen and change these values as shown on the right:

Other Publication Types to try are:

  • Numerical/Quantitative Data
  • Reports-Research


C. Other databases, such as  Academic Search Premier or Education Research Complete: enter your search terms and then paste this string of terms into another search box:

study OR methodology OR subjects OR data OR results OR findings OR discussion

and change the pulldown to "Abstract".

Below is an example search for child abuse using  Academic Search Premier:

screenshot from Academic Search Premier showing settings for a search for empirical articles

Click here to perform this search.  Below is an example search for child abuse and alcoholism in Education Research Complete:

Screenshot from Education Research Completeext showing a search for empirical articles for child abuse and alcoholim

Click  here to perfrom this search. Look over the articles you get from these searches carefully. The final determination of whether or not a particular article is empirical is a judgement that you must make. Also, some of the search devices mentioned here may not retrieve all of the Empirical articles for a given topic.

This FAQ answer is based on: Empirical Journal Articles: How to Find Articles that Report Empirical Studies
(Cal State Fullerton) original version | new version and What is an Empirical Article? (Univ of LaVerne) 

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