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Psychology: Finding Empirical Research

Introduction

Empirical research is published in books and in scholarly, peer-reviewed journals. However, most library databases do not offer straightforward ways to locate empirical research.

PsycInfo (APA PsycInfo)

To find empirical articles in PsycINFO (ProQuest version):

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Scroll down the page to "Methodology," and choose "Empirical Study"
  • Choose other limits, such as publication date, if needed
  • Click on the "Search" button

ERIC

ERIC does not have a simple method to locate empirical research. Using "empirical" as a keyword will find some studies, but miss others. One technique is to search for "Research Reports":

 

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Scroll down the page to "Document Type," and choose "Reports: Research"
  • Choose other limits, such as publication date, if needed
  • Click on the "Search" button

If you prefer scholarly journals, look to the left side of the results screen. Under "Source Type," choose "Scholarly Journals."

 

An alternative is to use terminology recommended by the ERIC thesaurus. Some useful keywords are:

  • Action Research
  • Case Studies
  • Ethnography
  • Evaluation Methods
  • Evaluation Research
  • Experiments
  • Focus Groups
  • Field Studies
  • Interviews
  • Mail Surveys
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Naturalistic Observation
  • Online Surveys
  • Participant Observation
  • Participatory Research
  • Qualitative Research
  • Questionnaires
  • Research
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Statistical Studies
  • Telephone Surveys

Cinahl Complete

CINAHL (EBSCO version) does not have a simple method to locate empirical research. One technique is to search for "evidence-based practice" items. This method tends to find meta-analyses and systematic reviews that combine the results of numerous studies: 

 

  • Use the "Advanced Search"
  • Type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Under "Limit your results," check off "Evidence-Based Practice"
  • Choose other limits, such as published date, if needed
  • Click on the "Search" button

Another alternative is to use terminology recommended by the CINAHL Subject Headings list. Some useful keywords are:

 

  • Clinical Trials
  • Empirical Research
  • Experimental Studies
  • Nonexperimental Studies
  • Qualitative Studies
  • Quantitative Studies

Medline

There are 2 ways to find empirical articles in Medline:

One technique is to limit your search results after you perform a search:

  • Type in your keywords and click on the "Search" button
  • To the left of your results, under "Article Types," check off the types of studies that interest you

Another alternative is to construct a more sophisticated search:

  • From PubMed's main screen, click on "Advanced" link underneath the search box
  • On the Advanced Search Builder screen type your keywords into the search boxes
  • Change one of the empty boxes from "All Fields" to "Publication Type"
  • To the right of Publication Type, click on "Show Index List" and choose a methodology that interests you. You can choose more than one by holding down the "Ctrl" or "⌘" on your keyboard as you click on each methodology
  • Click on the "Search" button