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PSYC 4820: Positive Psychology

A guide that assists you with locating scholarly sources; particularly peer-reviewed empirical journal articles

What is an Empirical Article?

An empirical article reports the findings of a study conducted by the authors and uses data gathered from an experiment or observation. An empirical study is verifiable and "based on facts, systematic observation, or experiment, rather than theory or general philosophical principle" (APA Databases Methodology Field Values).  The study may utilize quantitative research methods to produce numerical data and seek to find a causal relationship between two or more variables. Or the study may use qualitative research methods, which involves collecting non-numerical data to analyze concepts, opinions, or experiences.

Key parts of an empirical article

  • Abstract - Provides a brief overview of the research.
  • Introduction - The introduction provides a review of previous research on the topic and states the hypothesis. 
  • Method - The methods area describes how the research was conducted, identifies the design of the study, the participants, and any measurements that were taken during the study.
  • Results - The results section describes the outcome of the study. 
  • Discussion - The discussion section addresses the researchers' interpretations of their study and any future implications from their findings.
  • References - A list of works that were cited in the study.


Searching for Empirical Articles

In PsycINFO, use the Methodology refining filters in the left column of the search results page to limit your results by empirical study.



You can also add terms to your search query that might describe an empirical study.

Your query might be:  self-esteem AND study AND results

  • empirical study
  • study
  • data
  • experiment
  • results 
  • analysis
  • method 
  • findings 
  • participants
  • interviews
  • survey
  • observation