Skip to main content

Social Work: Empirical Articles: Finding Empirical Articles

Empirical Articles

For this assignment you will need to find two empirical articles published between 2004 and the present.

What is an empirical article?
An empirical article reports on research conducted by the authors. The research can be based on observations or experiments.  

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

How can I tell if an article is empirical? What to look for?

  • Check the publication in which the article appears. Is it scholarly? Most empirical articles will be in scholarly journals.
  • Read the article's abstract. Does it include details of a study, observation, or analysis of a number of participants or subjects?
  • Look at the article itself. Is it more than three pages long? Most empirical articles will be fairly lengthy.
  • Look at the article itself. If it contains a subsection marked "Methodology" and another called "Results," it is probably empirical.
  • If you're still unsure, consult your professor or a librarian.

Example of an empirical article

Dennis, C., & Vigod, S. (2013). The relationship between postpartum depression, domestic violence, childhood violence, and substance use: Epidemiologic study of a large community sample. Violence Against Women, 19(4), 503-517. doi:10.1177/1077801213487057

How can I search for empirical articles?
You can search for them by flipping through the library's print copies of journals or searching the library's online article databases. For information on locating and searching these resources, visit the Articles tab in this guide.

(CC image @

Where Can I Find Empirical Articles?

Before you begin searching databases, you may want to get an overview of the topic, especially if you are unfamiliar with the topic.  You can search reference books or Medline Plus.

The library subscribes to many collections of articles. These collections are often referrred to as databases. You can use them to search for scholarly, empirical articles which the library has purchased for your use. You can often limit your searches to scholarly content only through the Advanced Search feature of each database.

Librarian - Asst Prof

La Loria Konata's picture
La Loria Konata
La Loria Konata
Library South, 542