*Education: Identify Empirical Articles

Library Resources for the field of Education

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:

Databases that contain empirical research: (selected list only)


This page is adapted from Eric Karkhoff's Sociology Research Guide: Identify Empirical Articles page (Cal State Fullerton Pollak Library).

Sample Empirical Articles

Roschelle, J., Feng, M., Murphy, R. F., & Mason, C. A. (2016). Online Mathematics Homework Increases Student Achievement. AERA Open.  (LINK TO ARTICLE)

Lester, J., Yamanaka, A., & Struthers, B. (2016). Gender microaggressions and learning environments: The role of physical space in teaching pedagogy and communication. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 40(11), 909-926. (LINK TO ARTICLE)