Skip to Main Content

Article Search Tips: Empirical (Research)

This guide provides tips that can be used when searching for articles in databases; including how to locate the full text of articles.

What does it mean?

For an article to be considered empirical it must report on some type of data found from an experiment or observation done by the author(s) of the article to answer a research question. The data may be collected through quantitative or qualitative research methods or through both.


Quantitative Research is related to numbers.  It focuses on gathering research through objective measurements and then using that data to answer the research question. It can be replicated by anyone.


Qualitative Research is related to non-numeric data that can be collected by the researcher and are then applied to answering the research question. It is based on subjective and descriptive interpretation.

Quantitative vs Qualitative Brief Overview video

How do I know if it is?

Things to look for to help decide if an article is empirical include the following.

  • It should be in peer reviewed journal (many databases allow you to limit to these types of journals.)
  • There will often be charts and/or graphs
  • The articles tend to be long; often more than 5 pages.
  • It will usually have the following sections in the article (sometimes the sections may be labeled, but they are not always.)
  • Abstract - this provides a brief description of what the study covers
  • Introduction - this is where you find the hypothesis (research question) - that would be what the researcher wants to discover by doing it.
  • Method - this is where you will find out things such as how the research process was designed, who participated in it etc.
  • Results - this is where the researcher provides what was learned by conducting the research, proving or disproving the hypothesis
  • Discussion - this is where the researcher explains implications of the study and may suggest further research that should be conducted
  • References - this is where the researcher provides citations to information cited in the study (may say bibliography or works cited)

Finding in a Database

  • Some databases provide options that can help limit your search to empirical type research articles.
  • You can also try limiting by adding keywords to your topic.



A Selection of Databases with Limiters

Below are some of the library databases that can aid you in limiting your research, depending on your area of study.

Keywords to use

Some terms to try include: empirical, study or studies, research, observation, experiment, survey, "participant group", qualitative, or quantitative

For example if you wanted to find an empirical study about social media, searches you could try include:

Search: "social media" AND empirical

Example article:

An Empirical Study of the Impact of Social Media Use on Online Political Participation of University Students in Western China Tang, Yulong; Wen, Qing. Journalism and Media  Vol. 4, Issue 1,  (2023): 75.

Search: "social media" AND (study or studies)

Example article:

Social Media Use and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Adolescents: Cross-sectional Study You, Yueyue; Yang-Huang, Junwen; Raat, Hein; Amy Van Grieken. JMIR Mental Health; Toronto Vol. 9, Iss. 10,  (Oct 2022)

Search: "social media" AND "participant group"

Example article:

Perspectives of Rare Disease Social Media Group Participants on Engaging With Genetic Counselors: Mixed Methods Study Yabumoto, Megan; Miller, Emily; Rao, Anoushka; Tabor, Holly K; Ormond, Kelly E; et al. Journal of Medical Internet Research; Toronto (Dec 2022)

Trible Library provides links to other websites to aid in research and is not responsible for the content or privacy policy of those sites.