Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.
How do you know if a study is empirical? Read the subheadings within the article, book, or report and look for a description of the research methodology. Ask yourself: Could I recreate this study and test these results?
Key characteristics to look for:
Specific research questions to be answered
Definition of the population, behavior, or phenomena being studied
Description of the process used to study this population or phenomena, including selection criteria, controls, and testing instruments (such as surveys)
Another hint: some scholarly journals use a specific layout, called the "IMRaD" format, to communicate empirical research findings. Such articles typically have 4 components:
Empirical research is published in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals and in books. Some library databases do not have a straightforward way to limit to empirical research.
PsycINFO includes a Methodology filter to limit results to empirical research studies.
How to do it:
Type your keywords into the search boxes, as below, and click Search:
At the results page, under Refine Results, scroll down to Methodology and click the box next to Empirical Study:
Search results will update after you check the box next to empirical study. You may also want to limit by publication date or source type.