What is a Literature Review?
According to OWL at Purdue, "Literature reviews are designed to do two things:
- Give your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea and
- Demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study."
Conducting and composing a thorough literature review is a process. It will require you to define and refine your topic, gather basic background information, then search for and locate published books and articles. You might end up researching not only your direct topic, but related threads of research. Once you've found sources, you will have to analyze and synthesize them into review form.
Your literature review will explore findings and trends in the research on your topic, analyzing and synthesizing them into a cohesive review, and will also offer your commentary on any gaps, bias, and additional areas for exploration which you or others might embark on. Your thoughts on the material are essential to the review. You are not merely listing and abstracting all existing research; you are essentially making an argument as to what future research should address in the topic area.
Adapted from S. Steiner
What is an empirical article?
An empirical article reports on research conducted by the authors. The research can be based on observations, experiments, surveys, etc.
What types of research make an article empirical?
An empirical article may report a study that used quantitative research methods, which generate numerical data and seek to establish causal relationships between two or more variables. They may also report on a study that uses qualitative research methods, which objectively and critically analyze behaviors, beliefs, feelings, or values with few or no numerical data available for analysis.
What is the difference between "primary" and "secondary" data?
Primary data is data a researcher has collected him/herself to address his/her specific research questions via empirical analysis.
Secondary data is existing data that was collected by researchers, and is then made available to OTHER researchers for use in addressing their own research questions - so, even though the other researchers didn't collect the data themselves, they are still using the data for their own original research, and are thus doing empirical analysis.
How can I tell if an article is empirical?
- The article abstract includes details of a study, observation, or analysis of a number of participants or subjects.
- The article is fairly lengthy - most empirical articles will be anywhere from 5-30 pages or more.
- The article contains a subsection marked "Methodology," or "Research Methods," or "Methods," and another called "Results" or "Findings."
- If you're still unsure, consult your professor or a librarian.
How can I search for these articles?
There is no quick way to limit your searches only to empirical articles. You will have to search the appropriate databases, then review article abstracts in order to determine the nature of each.
[Adapted from S. Steiner's research guide.]
POLL - Which is Empirical Research?
As women pursue careers while retaining primary responsibility for family life, discretionary time is an emerging arena of gender inequality in contemporary life. This study examines gender inequality in waking role obligations and the implications for differences in sleep disruption. Drawing on a sample of 583 retail food workers, who regularly worked nights and rotating schedules, we find in our multivariate modeling that women experience significantly more sleep disruption than do men. A decomposition analysis shows that almost one-half of the gender gap in sleep disruption is accounted for by gender differences in health status and various dimensions of work-family context. By implication, the remainder of the gender gap in sleep disruption is attributable to differences in responsibility for work-family obligations. Given the need for more research on how work-family conflict affects health and well-being, further research on sleep patterns is warranted.