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Identifying Empirical Research: Home

This guide will help you identify the characteristics of empirical research.

What Is Empirical Research?

Empirical research is research that is based on observation or experimentation. Typically empirical research is published in peer-reviewed articles by the individuals who conducted the research. Watch the video below to learn about the characteristics of empirical research! 

Identifying Empirical Research

But how do you identify empirical research? Empirical research is typically published in scholarly journals. But not everything in scholarly journals is necessarily empirical research - you still need to carefully evaluate the methods of the article to determine if it is empirical research. 

1. Carefully evaluate the article's Methods and Results sections. Empirical articles will a) include these sections and b) explicitly state their methodologies and share their results. Evaluate the methodology - are the methods based on observation, a survey, experimentation, etc? Look for charts, data, and other representations in the results section. 



2. Look out for types of articles that are NOT empirical. Meta-analyses, literature reviews (with no other study components), editorials/letters, book reviews, case studies, opinions. 


3. In some databases, such as PsycINFO, you can limit to empirical research under Methodology in the "Advanced Search" section. Or limit to evidence-based practice" in CINAHL. 



4. In other databases, try using keywords such as empirical research, quantitative method, qualitative method, survey, ethnography, fieldwork or other type of empirical research method.


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