Skip to Main Content


What is Empirical Research

Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.

Key characteristics to look for:

  • Statement about the methodology being used
  • Research questions to be answered
  • Definition of the group or phenomena being studied
  • Process used to study this group or phenomena, including any
  • controls or instruments such as tests or surveys
  • Ask yourself: Could I recreate this study and test these results?
  • Read the abstract of the article for a description of the methodology

How do I find empirical research on my topic?
Empirical research is published in books and scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. The Library has several databases you can use to locate peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals.

Some databases allow you to limit your search by methodology. Or, try adding the keywords “empirical research” or just “empirical.”

Databases for empirical research:


  • Add the keyword term empirical to your search

PsycINFO (Psychology)

  • Limit to empirical study under Methodology

Sociological Abstracts (Sociology)

  • Add the descriptor term Empirical Methods to your search
  • Choose “descriptor DE” from drop-down menu

ERIC (Education)

  • Add the keyword term empirical to your search
  • Choose “keyword KW” from drop-down menu



  • Use the connecter OR and add empirical

Adapted from Empirical Research Tutorial from Mississippi State University