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Psychology: Empirical Research


The information in this part of the subject guide is adapted from a PDF titled Finding Empirical Research Articles or Research Studies created by Clark State Community College Library.

Limiting to Research Articles

In some of the databases, you can limit your search to peer-reviewed, scholarly, or research articles. This is a way to get started, but it is not a guarantee. You always need to evaluate each article individually.

What is a research study?

Research studies are articles written that are derived from actual observation or experiments. Research studies are usually very specific and often relate to a particular field of study or specialty within a field. These are original research papers whose authors have done the research, rather than reporting on someone else’s research.

Most research uses one of the following types of data and these words can be found in the abstract or sections of the article (they are often useful words to search with to help you find a research study): observation, questionnaires, interviews, controlled experiment, case studies, user studies, experimental research, and survey research.

What types of headings or sections are used?

When you are searching for research articles, the following headings are often used and can be flags to help you find an original article.

  1. Title
  2. Abstract
  3. Introduction/Literature Review
  4. Purpose of the Study/Hypothesis/Problem Statement
  5. Methodology/Procedures/Research Design
  6. Major Findings/Results/Analysis/Discussion
  7. Summary/Conclusion/Ideas for Future Studies/Implications
  8. Works Cited/References/Acknowledgements
  9. Notes/Appendices
  10. Tables, charts, figures, and statistical data are typically included throughout the article

What are helpful keywords to use in a search?

You can also search on individual words with your specific subject to help you narrow down a topic area to research articles only:

study, measure, subjects, data, surveys, statistical, research, quantitative

For example, if you were looking for a research article on behavioral disorders, you could search:

"behavior* disorder*" AND study or "behavior* disorder*" AND research

The * is a truncation symbol which searches for variant endings. In the example above, behavior* searches for behavior, behaviors, behavioral, behaviorism, etc.

Subject Guide

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Nicole Warner, PhD
Madigan Library
LIB 139
570-320-2400 ext. 7840