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Empirical Research: Defining, Identifying, & Finding

What is empirical research, how do you recognize it, and how can you improve your searches to find it?

Searching for Empirical Research

Where Do I Find Empirical Research?

Because empirical research refers to the method of investigation rather than a method of publication, it can be published in a number of places. In many disciplines empirical research is most commonly published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. Putting empirical research through the peer review process helps ensure that the research is high quality. 

Finding Peer-Reviewed Articles

You can find peer-reviewed articles in a general web search along with a lot of other types of sources. However, these specialized tools are more likely to find peer-reviewed articles:

Common Types of Articles That Are Not Empirical

However, just finding an article in a peer-reviewed journal is not enough to say it is empirical, since not all the articles in a peer-reviewed journal will be empirical research or even peer reviewed. Knowing how to quickly identify some types non-empirical research articles in peer-reviewed journals can help speed up your search. 

How Do I Find More Empirical Research in My Search?

Even once you know how to recognize empirical research and where it is published, it would be nice to improve your search results so that more empirical research shows up for your topic.

There are two major ways to find the empirical research in a database search: