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CAS 404 Conflict Resolution and Negotiation

A guide for Professor Kay Burky's CAS 404 students at Penn State Berks


Welcome to our class library guide!  This short tutorial will explain how to identify, find, cite, and use empirical articles for our Research Papers.  

Please follow the step-by-step instructions below.  If you need help, please feel free to email me, Brett Spencer, Reference Librarian, Penn State Berks, at  Another way to get help is by using the PSU Libraries' chat service Ask A Librarian (the chat line is staffed in the afternoons and early evenings on most weekdays).

Step 1: Identify an Empirical Article

a black-and-white image with tow overlapping circles.  One circle has a graduation cap, another circle has a book.An empirical article is based on an original study by the author.  The author, who is usually a scholar (professor) or professional, tells the story of a research study they conducted using a social science method like experiment, survey, focus group, observation, or case study.  The author first gives an introduction to the topic, then tells the method that they used, then presents what they found, and finally discusses what their findings mean.


How can we tell if an article is empirical?

1.  Determine if it is published in a Scholarly Journal.

2. Check the Abstract to see if the article is described as a “study” (or type of study such as survey, case study, observation, experiment).

3. See if the article follows the I'M RAD format often used to tell the story of a research study.


What are some examples of empirical articles?

  1. Understanding health care professionals' self-efficacy to resolve interpersonal conflict (Notice that the abstract indicates this is a study: "The purpose of this study was to investigate..."  .  Also open the article by clicking the "PDF Full Text" icon on left side and scroll down--you'll see a Methods section)
  2. Servant leadership for team-conflict management (The abstract explains that the article is based on a study: 'the study collected data from 113 customer services teams..." Click the "Linked Full-Text" on the left sidebar and scroll down in the article, you'll see a Method section) 


a view of a Chinese checkers board  Empirical Articles Game!

Are the following articles empirical?  Please explain why or why not:

1. Peace and conflict

2. Multidimensional analysis of conflict mediator style

3. There’s more than one way to solve a dispute

4. Getting it together

5. Resolving conflict at work

6. Conflict management style, supportive work environments

Step 2: Search for Empirical Articles in PsycInfo

We can find empirical articles in databases available through the library.  PsycInfo is a great database to use for conflict resolution topics.

1.  Please click on the link for PsycInfo below:

2. PsycInfo may ask you to type in your Penn State ID and password.  Please type the ID and password in if so.  If not, please continue to step 3.

3.  Checkmark the Peer reviewed filter in the Advanced Search screen. This will limit your search to scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.

  screenshot of psycinfo showing a checkmark that says "peer-reviewed"

4. Select the Empirical Study filter in the Methodology box.  

a screenshot of the empirical article limiter in the methodology section


5.  We're ready to search!  Please type keywords for your topic in the search boxes at the top.  Optional: To narrow down your search, you can also type in the setting that you would like to focus on.  For example, if you're interested in conflict resolution in the human resources field, you could type in words like human resources, workplace, or management in the second search box.

screenshot of psycinfo showing the topic "conflict resolution models" in the first search box and "human resources" in the second search box


6.  Click the green Search button.

7.  A list of articles should appear.  Please change the Sorted by feature on the left side of the screen from Most Recent First to Relevance.  This will put the articles most related to your topic at the top of the list.



Additional Resources:

Step 3: Choose an Article and Cite It in APA

To View the Articles: click either the "Full-Text" links or the blue "Get It!" buttons:

screenshot of psycinfo showing 2 article records, one has a Full Text link and one has a blue Get It button

To Cite the Articles in APA Format: 1. Click the article's title 2. Click the Cite button on the right side.  3. PsycInfo will create the APA citation for you.  However, double-check it against examples from the APA handbook or the PSU Libraries' APA quick guide--scholarly journal example.

screenshot of PsycInfo that shows an icon with " and the word cite

Step 4: Extract the Required Information for Our Research Paper

a black-and-white icon of a person reading a bookHere are some ideas on reading the article and extracting ideas for our assignment:

  • Read the Abstract and Introduction section near the beginning to figure out the purpose of the study. 
  • Read the Methodology section in the middle of the article to find out about the method used in the study.  The method will usually be one of the traditional methods used in the social sciences: survey, in-depth interviews, focus groups, case study, formal observation, or content analysis.
  • Read the Results/Findings section to learn about the findings of the study.  
  • Consider how the information from the study can be integrated into the four arenas of interpersonal conflict (interpersonal relationships; groups or teams; organizations; intergroup).  What does the study tell us about these arenas?  Does the study focus more heavily on one arena than others?  Does the study agree with, challenge, or qualify our textbook's information about the arenas?

​Timesaver Tips!

Empirical articles can be challenging to work through because they are usually long and technical.  Here are some tips on reading them efficiently:

  • Do a quick read through to get the gist of the article.  Then, read it a second time more slowly and carefully.
  • Pay close attention to the first and last sentences of paragraphs.  These sentences usually cover the main topics.
  • Try to understand the main ideas of the article and dig out the information that we need for our assignment--the purpose, method, outcomes, and connections to the four arenas.  Don't try to read every word necessarily.  Avoid getting bogged down in specific sections or tables that are extremely technical.  Skim over those parts and move on to the more understandable sections.