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HDFS 4520 / 5520 Multicultural Studies and Approaches with Families

Course Guide

What is an Empirical Research Article?

An empirical research article is an article which reports research based on actual observations or experiments. 

  • The research may use quantitative research methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables. 

Empirical research articles may use qualitative research methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis.

The video below provides a good, short overview.

-Information in this guide is used with permission from Wilson Library at the University of LaVerne

Recognizing Empirical Articles

How can I determine if I have found an empirical article?

When looking at an article or the abstract of an article, here are some guidelines to use to decide if an article is an empirical article.

  • Is the article published in an academic, scholarly, or professional journal? Although all the articles in these journals may be of interest to people in the field, they may not all be research articles. 

  • Does the abstract of the article mention a study, an observation, an analysis or a number of participants or subjects? Empirical articles normally contain these sections:

    1. Possible methodologies used:

      • survey or questionnaire

      • assessment or measurement

      • interviews 

    2. Introduction- Provides a very brief summary of the research.

    3. Methodology/Research Design - describes how the research was conducted. It will include:

      • who the participants were

      • design of the study

      • what the participants did

      • what measures were used

    4. Results/Findings- Describes the outcomes of the measures of the study.

    5. Discussion/Conclusion/Implications - contains the interpretations and implications of the study

    6. References/Works Cited- lists the articles and books cited in the report and should be substantial

  • 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.

  • How long is the article? It is normally seven or more pages 

If you are not sure if an article is an empirical research article, check with your professor or a librarian so that we can help you become better at recognizing the differences between empirical research and other types of scholarly articles.

Searching in JCK Library for Empirical Research Articles

There are several ways that you can search for empirical research articles. The tips below are general and can be used with most databases. 

General guidelines 

In the search box, type in your topic and one of the following options:

On the first two, by using the quotation marks, the database will search for those terms together rather than separated in the text. The capital OR designates it as a boolean operator and it will search for BOTH terms and you do not need to do separate searches. Here are several options:

  • “empirical research” OR “empirical study”

  • “qualitative research” OR “quantitative research”

  • “study” OR “studies”

Databases also provide specific ways to narrow your search (specific options and terminology may vary by database). In general look for these types of options under advanced search.

  • More Search options….

  • Document type - “report”, “studies/research reports”, “evidenced based”

  • Methodology - such as “empirical study”

  • Source type - such as “scholarly journals”

  • Intended audience - such as “researcher”