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Sociology Research Guide: Identifying & Finding Empirical Articles

Subject guide for Sociology

How to Recognize Empirical Journal Articles

Definition of an empirical study: An empirical research article reports the results of a study that uses data derived from actual observation or experimentation. Empirical research articles are examples of primary research.

Parts of a standard empirical research article: (articles will not necessary use the exact terms listed below.)

  • Abstract ... A paragraph length description of what the study includes.
  • Introduction...Includes a statement of the hypotheses for the research and a review of other research on the topic.
  • Method ...A description of how the research was conducted, such as:
             ◊ Who are participants
             ◊  Design of the study
             ◊  What the participants did
             ◊  What measures were used
  • Results...Describes the outcomes of the measures of the study.
  • Discussion...Contains the interpretations and implications of the study.
  • References...Contains citation information on the material cited in the report. (also called bibliography or works cited)

Characteristics of an Empirical Article:

  • Empirical articles will include charts, graphs, or statistical analysis.
  • Empirical research articles are usually substantial, maybe from 8-30 pages long.
  • There is always a bibliography found at the end of the article.

Type of publications that publish empirical studies:

  • Empirical research articles are published in scholarly or academic journals
    These journals are also called “peer-reviewed,” or “refereed” publications.
  • Examples of such publications include:
           American Journal of Sociology
    Sociological Quarterly

           ◊ Sociological Methods and Research

Databases that contain empirical research: (selected list only)

  • Academic Search Premier add these words to your search terms:
    method* or
    research or research design or survey* or data or result*
  • PsycINFO limit your searches by Form/Content Type to Empirical Study
  • ERIC limit to Pub. Type to Reports - Research/Technical
    Change one dropdown box to Record. This finds REPORTS--RESEARCH.
  • Sociological Abstracts 1963 - present.
  • Sports Discus Change search limit to Level = Advanced for original scientific research

Empirical Articles - Sample Research Tips

Empirical articles detail original research/studies that have been done.    

Some of the major components of empirical articles include the following:
Abstract, Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion, References


Locating Empirical Articles in APA PsycINFO

Use the "Methodology" limiter to select:  EMPIRICAL STUDY


Locating Empirical Articles in ERIC

Use the "Publication Type" limiter to select:  Reports - Research


Locating Empirical Articles in Other Databases

Use terms such as: study, research, empirical, methods, methodology, research design, survey, data, results

Please remember to use OR between your combination of terms. For example, you may enter the following in one search box:

study OR research OR empirical

research OR methods OR data OR results