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Research Guides

Psychology (PSYC) 218 - Online [Pula]: Identify and Evaluate Sources

Identify Empirical Articles and Scholarly Journals

Empirical articles report the data and results from a research project. 

A good first step to identify if an article is empirical is to read the Abstract:

  • Does the author mention terms like study, observation, analysis, data, participants, etc.?
  • Does the author discuss the methods used in their research?

You can also skim the headings used in the paper:

  • Is there a Methods or Methodology section?
  • Is there a Discussion or Results section?

Another option is to review the article's content:

  • Does it include charts, graphs, or statistical analyses?
  • Is there a reference list or bibliography?

Often, 'yes answers' to most or all of these questions mean you have identified an empirical article.

If you have questions about whether an article is empirical, please do not hesitate to contact me (Jylisa Doney) or your professor (Kacy Pula).

Many empirical articles are also published in scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journals.

This means that other authors or researchers in the specific field or discipline reviewed or commented on the article before it was published.

Databases as well as the journal's website can help you determine if an empirical article was published in a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal.

Scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journals often:

  • Include substantial citations and bibliographies
  • Utilize article headings, such as:
    • Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Discussion, Results, and Conclusion

Empirical articles published in scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journals are often written for professors, researchers, and students who want to learn more about a topic from qualified authors

If you have questions about whether a journal is scholarly (or peer-reviewed), please do not hesitate to contact me (Jylisa Doney) or your professor (Kacy Pula).

Evaluate Sources

After you find your empirical articles, it is important to evaluate them to make sure they closely relate to your topic. 

You can use the RADAR Approach and the RADAR worksheet to ask questions about your articles and investigate them further.

R: Relevance Relevance is related to whether an article meets assignment requirements and supports your research topic or arguments.
  • Is this an empirical article?
  • Does the article meet your assignment's requirements?
  • How does the article relate to your topic? 
A: Authority Authority is related to author credentials and expertise as well as whether the article was published is a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal.
  • Is the article published in a scholarly (or peer-reviewed) journal?
  • Who is the author?
  • Does the author’s background or qualifications relate to the article’s topic?
D: Date Date is related to currency of the article as well as whether you need a current or historic article.
  • When was the article published? 
  • Do you need a current or historic article? 
  • Have more recent articles related to your topic been published?
A: Accuracy Accuracy is related to whether or not the research findings are supported by evidence or verified by other sources.
  • Are the research findings supported by evidence? 
  • Can you verify the article's research findings in another source? 
  • Are other sources cited?
R: Rationale or Reason Rationale is related to the purpose or goal of the article.
  • Are alternative points of view shared? 
  • Who is the intended audience?