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Library Resources for Non-Traditional Students

Information about using the library for online non-traditional students.

What is Empirical Research?

In most graduate programs, your faculty will ask you to locate empirical research articles.  These may also be called primary research or original research.  This means that the article reports on an original experiment, survey, observation, ethnographic study, or other original research design.  Unfortunately, the databases don't offer an easy way to identify empirical research, so your best option is to look at the abstract or full text of the article for the standard empirical research format: Introduction, Methods, Results, Conclusions.

Situations you may need this:

  • Your assignment requires empirical research 
  • You need to identify gaps in the existing literature
Empirical articles will include headings that roughly follow the standard format.  In this example, Introduction is called Background. Review articles will usually have topical headings.  You can see that the abstract here is a summary without headings.  The full article includes headings like Definition of Motivation and Theories of Motivation and Needs