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ISR 2531: Research Methods


Empirical Article - A type of primary literature, an empirical article is a report on a study or experiment, written by the person or people who conducted the study or experiment. It contains the methodology, data, and conclusions of the study.

Is It Empirical?

Components of an Empirical Article:

  • Abstract – A report of an empirical study includes an abstract that provides a very brief summary of the research.
  • Introduction – The introduction sets the research in a context, which provides a review of related research and develops the hypotheses for the research.
  • Method – The method section is a description of how the research was conducted, including who the participants were, the design of the study, what the participants did, and what measures were used.
  • Results – The results section describes the outcomes of the measures of the study.
  • Discussion – The discussion section contains the interpretations and implications of the study.
  • General Discussion – There may be more than one study in the report; in this case, there are usually separate Method and Results sections for each study followed by a general discussion that ties all the research together.
  • References – A references section contains information about the articles and books cited in the report. 

Other things to look for:

  • Language
    • measurement
    • psychological aspects
    • reports
    • research statistics
    • usage
  • Length of Article
    • Empirical research articles are usually substantial (more than 1 or 2 pages)
  • Includes a bibliography or cited references section (usually at the end of the article)

Reading Empirical Research

Having trouble finding a topic or an article?

If you are having trouble finding an empirical article, try finding a secondary source on the topic. A literature review will have primary sources cited in the bibliography, which you can then search for. 

If you are not finding anything on your topic, try to change your search terms. Doing a concept map can assist in coming up with new search terms.