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Psychology 124: Empirical Research Essay

Scholarly (peer reviewed) Journal Articles in Psychology

The Library's online databases contain millions of published articles from popular magazines, scholarly journals and news sources. In these databases, you can search for your topic in thousands of magazines at the same time. The following is a list of the library databases that are good resources for scholarly journal articles.  Note: off-campus access to these databases requires that you sign on using your mymsjc user name and password.

  • Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection (EBSCO)
    Includes peer-reviewed journals and general periodicals in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, etc. Make sure you click on the "Peer reviewed" box when searching this collection for journal articles.
  • Academic Search Complete (EBSCO)
    The world’s largest academic multi-disciplinary (not just psychology) database, Academic Search Complete provides coverage spaning virtually every area of academic study and offering information dating as far back as 1975. Make sure you click on the Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals box when searching Academic Search Complete for journal articles.
  • EBSCO Collection of Databases
    Expand your search to over 20 EBSCO databases at once. Remember to limit your results to academic journals if needed.
    This collection contains only scholarly journals from a variety of Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines, including psychology.

Tips for Identifying Empirical Research

Studies that were conducted using empirical research can be identified by analyzing a few key elements:

  1. There will be a clear research question asked. 
  2. Headings will typically include Abstract, Methods, Results, Discussion and References. These sections may not be titled with these exact terms (ex: Discussion may be called Conclusion), but the elements will be present.
  3. The methods section lists how the experiment was conducted and can be repeated. 
  4. Graphs and charts are included.
  5. Usually lengthy (over 5 pages).
  6. Must be published in scholarly or peer-reviewed journals.

Empirical research can be difficult to identify in the Library databases, but there are some helpful tips for finding resources:

  1. When you are searching the databases, make sure you limit your search to "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals " or select "Academic Journals" under the format. All empirical research studies are published in peer-reviewed journals.
  2. Modify your keyword search terms to include the phrases that are associated with empirical research. For instance, try "qualitative research" or "observation research" along with your topic. See the next tab ("Possible Keywords") for ideas and suggestions.
  3. Read the abstracts of the articles to see if the research strategy is outlined. You can also check the "Methodology" section for this.
  4. If you find an article that you can use, check the "Subject Terms." There may be a helpful term you can use to further your search.
  5. If you still can't find any options, check with your Librarian. They will give you helpful tips and suggestions for finding better results and which databases may be the best for your subject.

A simple way to locate empirical research is by using a keyword search strategy. Try the following terms along with your topic and browse the results to see if the articles are appropriate:

  • Case Studies
  • Evaluation Research
  • Experiments
  • Focus Groups
  • Field Studies
  • Interviews
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Participant Observation
  • Participatory Research
  • Qualitative Research
  • Questionnaires