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SW 3185 - Social Work Research - Ilesanmi, Velazquillo Franco

Is it empirical?

Empirical = based on observable evidence. An article is likely empirical IF:

  • It appears in a scholarly/peer-reviewed journal
  • The researchers gathered data
    • Look in: Abstract, Method(ology) section
    • Can be quantitative (most surveys) and/or qualitative (interviews, focus groups)
  • Authors report on an experiment/observation
  • It has these normal sections (may vary):
    • Introduction/Literature Review
    • Methodology
    • Results
    • Discussion/Conclusion
    • References

  • NOT empirical:
    • Literature review, even if in scholarly journal (authors only use published sources)
      • Use these to point you to other sources & get topic background!
    • Theoretical article, even if in scholarly journal
    • Essay, even if in scholarly journal

  • Gray area (check with your professor):
    • Scholarly/peer-reviewed article in which authors analyze data someone else collected ("secondary data analysis")
    • Case studies reporting on one or a few particular clients/organizations