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Empirical Research: Home

What is Empirical Research and How to search for it in Library Databases

Empirical research studies use data derived from actual observation or experiment rather than from a hypothetical theory.   Look for clues like, what is the research question, does the article address the process of how the research was conducted, what population or age group was selected what data tools were used, etc.

Empirical research studies are published in academic journals.  It is published only in academic, peer-reviewed journals. However, not all peer reviewed articles are empirical research studies.  Articles that report empirical research contain different parts all  relating to a cohesive scientific method.


The abstract provides a brief summary of the research


Introduction sets the research in a context ; provides literature review and  develops a hypothesis for the research


This section describes how the research was conducted


Describes analysis of the data gathered; outcomes of the study


Contains interpretations and/or future implications of the study


A substantial list of the references or sources consulted


How can you identify Empirical Research Articles?

  • The article is published in a peer–reviewed or academic journal; popular magazines such as Time do not publish empirical research articles
  • The article abstract mentions a study, or observation or where and how the data was collected, etc.
  • The article most likely contains data, charts/tables or statistical analysis and is usually long.
  • The article uses terms such as “research design”, “methodology”or "research methodology", “controlled sample”, “measurement”, etc.

Searching for Empirical Research articles in library databases

It is helpful to open the Advanced Search Window when looking for empirical research studies whether you search RaptorSearch or access a single discipline specific database. 

Discipline specific databases such as PsycINFO or ERIC or Medline will further allow you to limit your search to a particular type of publication or content. Use this feature to find only empirical or research-based articles. Look for limiters or Keyword (KW) Identifiers such as “publication type”, “Intended Audience”, “Methodology”, “Tests and Measurements”, “Age Group” or “Population group”.

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