Answered By: Erin Guldbrandsen
Last Updated: Jan 31, 2019     Views: 10462

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

Tip: The Library's homepage has a menu to Select a Subject in the middle of the page. 

See this Quick Answer: How do I find databases by subject?

Few databases, however, allow you to limit your results to original research only. Therefore, you will need to search for peer-reviewed articles on your topic and then examine the results to find articles that describe original 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. 



Here are some tips:

  • Search for peer-reviewed articles on your topic by following the processes outlined in these pages:

  • 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 you 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.


Some abstracts clearly identify the major components of an original research study, e.g. introduction, design/methodology, results/findings, conclusion:

Article abstract with section headings highlighted: Purpose, Design/methodology/approach, Findings, and Originality/Value


Other abstracts are less structured but still indicate that a research study was done:

Abstract with the following highlighted: quantitative and qualitative data were collected, analyzed, and compared; results of the study revealed; quantitative data did not reveal; qualitative data indicated; results of the study have implications.


The PsycINFO database, one of our main psychology databases, does have an option to limit your results to only empirical studies. Here is how you can use this limiter:

1. In the PsycINFO database, enter your topic in the search boxes.

2. Then scroll down below the search boxes until you see the Methodology box in the right column.

3. In the Methodology box click on Empirical Study.

See this image in context.

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

5. 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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