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Empirical Research

Aid for students conducting empirical research

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.