Answered By: Amanda McLellan
Last Updated: Apr 14, 2015     Views: 12

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.

In OneSearch, 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".

Screenshot of sample 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. 

Some databases allow you to search specifically for Emperical studies. 

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.

When in doubt, Ask A Librarian!

This FAQ answer is based on: "My instructor said that I needed to find
'Empirical' articles. What should I do?" 
 at Cal Poly Pomona

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