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Library Research in Adult and Community Education: GSR615: Elements of Research

Introduction to Research Methodology

What is an empirical research article?

An empirical research article is an article which reports research based on actual observations or experiments. The researcher may have used quantitative methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables, or the researcher may have used qualitative methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis.

Source: University of La Verne. (2012). What is an empirical article? Retrieved from

How can I find an empirical research article in IUP Libraries' databases?

Take a look at the articles in your result list and ask yourself the following questions:

1) Is the article published in an academic, scholarly, or professional journal? Use the scholarly or peer-reviewed journal limiter to take out the “guesswork.”

2) Does the abstract of the article mention a study, an observation, an analysis or a number of participants or subjects? Was data collected, a survey or questionnaire administered, an assessment or measurement used, an interview conducted? All of these terms indicate possible methodologies used in empirical research.

3) Does the article contain the following sections?

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

Note: These 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. 4

4) How long is the article? An empirical article is usually substantial; it is normally three or more pages long. When in doubt, share the article citation and abstract with your professor or a librarian so that he/she can help you recognize the differences between empirical research and other types of scholarly articles.

Source: University of La Verne. (2012). What is an empirical article? Retrieved from

How to Read an Empirical Research Article

Education Librarian

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Kelly Heider
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