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Communication Studies

Identifying empirical articles

Most library databases contain many types of articles: 

  • Scholarly articles by academics
  • trade publications aimed at people working in a particular industry.
  • Magazine articles for the general public
  • Book chapters

If you have been asked to identify empirical articles, that is, articles that include reports about new research, how can you tell? A screenshot of an the "refine results" tools in an EBSCO search, with a yellow highlighted box around the option to limit to scholarly or peer reviewed journals.

  1. First, limit your search to scholarly or peer reviewed articles. Check the check box on the left side of the page to exclude trade publications and other non-scholarly sources.
  2. Once you find an article that looks interesting, click on the title to read more about it. 
  3. Look at the abstract -- empirical articles should explain their methodology and basic findings. Here's an example of an abstract:
    • Abstract: This investigation examined how parents' and adult children's behavioral manifestations of shyness are associated with perceived family communication. A theoretical model predicted that shyness would be negatively associated with social skills, and social skills would, in turn, be positively associated with perceived family communication. Participants included 111 parent-adult child dyads. Parents and adult children completed measures of shyness, social skills, and perceived family communication in an online questionnaire. Results of structural equation modeling indicated that, as predicted, parent and dult child shyness were negatively associated with their own social skills. In addition, adult chidren's social skills were significantly associated with perceived family communication, but their parents' social skills were not. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]

  4. If you're still not sure, look at the full text of the article. Can you identify a methodology section that tells you how the researchers collected and analyzed their data? Take a look at the full PDF of this article to see if you can find the methods section.
Subjects: Communication