Answered By: Jon Allinder
Last Updated: Jan 15, 2022     Views: 29318

You can find original or primary research studies that analyze empirical data by searching in databases in your subject area.

Few databases have a checkbox that will limit your search to original or empirical research. You will need to search for peer-reviewed articles on your topic and then examine the results to find articles that describe original research.  

You can also add terms to the search to help narrow it.  An example database search set up could be: 

In the first search box: recidivism

In the second search box: research or study

Tips to identify empirical research

  • Original research studies are also known as primary or empirical studies.
  • These studies report on research done by the author(s) of the study.
  • They will include how the study was done, what was discovered, and what conclusions were drawn.
  • Empirical data is data collected by the author via qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods studies. 
  • Articles may not explicitly state that original research was performed or empirical data gathered, even if it was.
  • When viewing your results, look for indications that the author(s) conducted original research by reading article abstracts. The abstract is generally accessible by clicking on the title of the article.
  • To help identify original research studies with empirical data, after reviewing the article, ask yourself: "Given the tools and knowledge that the author has, could I replicate this study?" If yes, then chances are you've found an original research study with empirical data.


Use abstracts to identify empirical research

Some abstracts clearly identify the major components of an original research study, such as:

  • Introduction or purpose
  • Design or methodology or approach
  • Finding or results or outcomes or conclusion
  • Originality or value

Other abstracts are less structured but still indicate that a research study was done. Look for terms or phrases such as: 

  • data were collected
  • results of the study revealed (or implicated or indicated)
  • quantitative data did not reveal
  • qualitative data indicated


Database with advanced limiter for "Empirical Study"

The APA PsycInfo (formerly PsycInfo) database, one of our main psychology databases, does have an option to limit your results to only empirical studies. 

  1. From the Library's homepage, click on Databases A-Z.
  2. Click on A in the list at top.
  3. Scroll down and click on APA PsycInfo (formerly PsycInfo).
  4. Type your topic keyword in the search box.
  5. Scroll down below the search boxes until you see the Methodology box in the right column.
  6. In the Methodology box click on Empirical Study.

  7. Click on the Search button to run your search.

This should give you a list of empirical studies. If you do not get any results, you may need to broaden your search terms.


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