Answered By: Loan Nguyen
Last Updated: May 01, 2017     Views: 2327

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.

Most databases will let you limit your search to articles that are:

  • scholarly
  • academic
  • peer-reviewed
  • refereed

Most, but not all, of these will be empirical studies. 

To determine if an article is an empirical study, 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. How can I 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.


B. Other databases, such as  Academic Search Complete or Education Source:

Enter your search terms and then try some of these terms in the second another search box:

  • study
  • methodology
  • subjects
  • data
  • results
  • findings
  • discussion

and change the pulldown to "Abstract".

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

Look over the articles you get from 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.