Skip to Main Content

Psychology (Penn State Berks)

Welcome to the virtual library for students in psychology courses at Penn State Berks.

Empirical Journal Articles

Most psychology classes will ask you to find empirical articles for literature reviews and research projects.  To find out what an empirical article is, please watch these excellent videos:

What is an Empirical Article? (University of South Carolina Libraries)

What's an Empirical Article? (Georgia State University Libraries)

🪧Signs of a Scholarly, Empirical Article

  • The article is published in a journal---NOT a magazine/newspaper. Newspaper and magazine articles are almost never considered scholarly, empirical sources.
  • The article presents original research--it is NOT purely a review of others’ work. Empirical articles have lit reviews, but they also have sections presenting the author’s own research. If you see an article that is only a literature review, it is not an empirical article. Commentaries, book reviews, and mere summaries don’t count as scholarly, empirical articles either.
  • Words like study, sample, survey, findings appear in the abstract. Scholarly, empirical articles usually have these words in the abstract because the author is talking about a study that they did. The authors usually use these kinds of phrases: “In this study, we present the results of a survey…”; “Our study showed that…”; “Using … methodology, we did interviews with…”
  • The article has a “Methodology” section. Browse through the article and look for a section entitled “Methods” talking about the research methods the author used. If you see it, you’re probably looking at a scholarly, empirical article.  

💥Clincher: To determine if a scholarly journal article is empirical, ask yourself "Did the authors do an original social science study--using formal methods like surveys, experiments, observations, focus groups?"  If yes, the article is probably empirical.  In addition, please note that authors often use this outline to tell the story of their research project:

 Introduction-Method-Results-and-Discussion (IMRAD) 



Titles: Keys to Recognizing Scholarly, Empirical Articles

Scholarly Journal Article Titles:

Popular Magazine Article Titles: