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Research Methods


Finding Empirical Research

Peer Reviewed Journals

What is a peer-reviewed journal?

  • The journal publishes scholarly articles that are rigorously reviewed by 3-5 scholars in a relevant field. The process of review ensures the quality of research presented in the article.
  • Also known as refereed journals.

Finding Empirical Research

Wherever you search, try using terms that relate to the method used in empirical research in addition to keywords related to your topic, such as,

  • (generalized anxiety AND treatment*) AND (randomized clinical trial* OR clinical trial*)

You might also try using terms related to the type of instrument used, such as,

  • (generalized anxiety AND intervention*) AND (survey OR questionnaire)

Make sure to focus your results to peer-review. Usually databases have a peer-review check box or limiter that you can select. Peer-reviewed sources ensure that the studies you find have undergone appropriate scrutiny by other experts.

What do the *, "quotes" and (parentheses) do?

Article Databases

Identifying Empirical Research Articles

Look for the IMRaD layout in the article, or something similar, to help identify empirical research.

  • Introduction: why the article was written, research question or questions, hypothesis, literature review
  • Methods: the overall research design and implementation, description of sample, instruments used, how the authors measured their experiment
  • Results: output of the author's measurements, usually includes statistics of the author's findings
  • Discussion: the author's interpretation and conclusions about the results, limitations of study, suggestions for further research

Refer to the Forms of Evidence page to determine the quality of evidence gathered by a particular study.

Searching for Articles

Searching for Articles in PsycINFO

This is a tutorial on searching PsycINFO using some of the advanced search features.

How to Identify Peer-Reviewed Sources

The video covers identifying peer-reviewed journals from a website and finding peer-reviewed articles in databases.