Empirical articles report on original research. Scholars conduct and report on direct observations, studies, or experiences. They can use either quantitative or qualitative research methods. Empirical articles do not only report on or summarize research done by others.

What are the different types of articles?


For a printable version of this walk-through:

How do I search for empirical articles?

When searching in the library databases, there are a few things you can do to remove many non- empirical articles from your results.

First, use the Scholarly or Peer-Reviewed filter. You can find this filter in the advanced search page or in the filter / limiter panel of most databases

Some databases, like ERIC, have an additional filter you can use to limit your results. On the Advanced Search screen, choose Reports—Research in the Publication Type box to help limit to research articles:

ERIC advanced search screen highlighting Reports-Research filter

Additionally, you can add one or more of the following keywords to your search to help filter out unwanted results:

  • Study/studies
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Empirical
  • Method/Methodology
  • Research
  • Findings/Results
  • Participants

You might want to try a few different combinations. See what works best for your topic. Remember, you can link the terms with OR to tell the database to search for any one of them: (study OR empirical OR methodology)

Although the steps listed above will help to weed out a lot of the non-empirical articles, they won’t catch everything, so you’ll need to know how to recognize an empirical article.

How can I tell if I've found an empirical article?

You will usually be able to tell if you’ve found an empirical article by reading its abstract. The abstract will mention the original research conducted, talk about the methods for collecting data or observations, the number of participants, and so on.

Additionally, empirical articles will generally have a series of sections in the article, like this:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
  3. Methodology
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusion
  7. References

The terminology for some of the sections might differ or be combined, depending on the article, but you can use the list above as a general guideline.