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Empirical Research: How do I find empirical research in databases?

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Empirical research is published in books and in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. However, most library databases do not offer straightforward ways to locate empirical research. 

ABI/Inform Complete (Business)

To find empirical articles in ABI/Inform Complete:

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Choose other limits, such as publication date, if needed
  • Under "More Search Options," scroll down to "Classification Code," and click on "Look Up Classification Codes"
  • Within the Look Up box, click on the plus (+) sign beside "Article Treatment," and click on additional plus (+) signs to reveal various options. Check off "9130 - Experiment/Theoretical," then click on the "Add to Search" button
  • Click on the "Search" button

ERIC (Education)

ERIC does not have a simple method to locate empirical research. Using "empirical" as a keyword will find some studies, but miss others. One technique is to search for "Research Reports":

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Under "More Search Options," see "Document Type," and choose "Reports: Research"
  • Choose other limits, such as publication date, if needed
  • Click on the "Search" button

An alternative is to use terminology recommended by the ERIC thesaurus. Some useful keywords are:

  • Action Research
  • Case Studies
  • Ethnography
  • Evaluation Methods
  • Evaluation Research
  • Experiments
  • Focus Groups
  • Field Studies
  • Interviews
  • Mail Surveys
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Naturalistic observation
  • Participant Observation
  • Participatory Research
  • Qualitative Research
  • Questionnaires
  • Research
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Statistical Studies
  • Telephone Surveys

CINAHL (Nursing)

CINAHL does not have a simple method to locate empirical research. One technique is to search for peer reviewed research items:

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Under "Limit your results," check off "Research Article" and "Peer Reviewed"
  • Choose other limits, such as published date, if needed
  • Click on the "Search" button

Sometimes keyword searching in CINAHL brings back few results. In that case, try searching the CINAHL Headings list for recommended terminology. Some useful keywords are:

  • Empirical Research
  • Experimental Studies
  • Qualitative Studies
  • Quantitative Studies

PsycINFO (Psychology)

To find empirical articles in PsycINFO:

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Under "More Search Options," see "Methodology," and choose "Empirical Study"
  • Choose other limits, such as publication date, if needed
  • Click on the "Search" button