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How to locate and identify empirical research for your literature review

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Librarian: Welcome to this quick overview on empirical research.

Visual: What We'll Cover slide

We'll talk about what constitutes empirical research and point you to tutorials for further information. And we'll talk about how you can use filters and limiters in the library databases to find what you need efficiently and effectively.

Your literature review is the backbone of your doctoral capstone. And empirical research is the backbone of your literature review. Make sure you're reading quality peer reviewed empirical research for your literature review.

Visual: Empirical Research Defined slide

Empirical studies are written by the researcher, the person or persons who are asking the question and are analyzing data in order to answer the question. Research studies follow a pattern with sections including an introduction, an overview of the methodology used, results, and a discussion that interprets the results.

Visual: Parts of an Empirical Research Article slide

We have a tutorial on this in the library. If you want a quick review, watch the tutorial anytime. From the library home page, look for Get Help and then Tutorials. It's called Anatomy of a Research Article. We'll visit the library website at the end of this video to show you the path.

Visual: Fundamentals of Library Research page, Critical Reading and Evaulation

There is also a more general overview of evaluating sources available from the Tutorials page. It's found under Fundamentals of Library Research. Look for the Critical Reading and Evaluation section for a review. Tutorials are short and to the point-- a high return on your time investment for a concise summary. We'll show you the path to this at the end of the video as well.

Visual: Cloudy areas

There are a couple of cloudy areas. First of all, many empirical articles don't have or don't provide a conceptual or theoretical framework. To see frameworks in action, we suggest you look at published dissertations.

Also, meta analysis or meta synthesis research may present itself the same way when analyzing someone else's data, but do so in order to answer a new question. Just be sure the study is following the pattern of presenting a research question, has an introduction, methods, and results sections. When in doubt about whether an article is empirical or not, discuss it with your chair. Your chair has the final say.

Visual: database search box example

You can use the tools in the library databases to limit your results to empirical research. It's not perfect. But it works pretty well. And it will eliminate a lot of the irrelevant results. In a database, enter empirical or qualitative or quantitative or mixed methods as one of the concepts and look at any of these words in the abstracts. Usually, the methodology is mentioned in the abstract of empirical research articles. So this search strategy will help you add focus.

You'll also want to limit to peer-reviewed literature only to ensure that it's been through the peer review editorial process. Some databases are all peer-reviewed content. But in others, you will have to tell it to limit the results to peer-reviewed research.

Visual: use abstracts to identify empirical research slide

Not only can you search for keywords in the abstracts to save time and add focus, you can also read the abstracts to see if you can identify the research article as empirical before reading through the whole thing.

Does it talk about purpose, design, methodology? Does it indicate that data were collected or analyzed? Does it mentioned results, findings, or discovery? Some abstracts clearly identify the major components of an original research study. Other abstracts are less structured but still indicate that a research study was done.

Visual: Tutorials and Quick Answers (slide) with image of Walden Library homepage, then demonstrates steps to get to each

To find the tutorials mentioned at the beginning of this video from the library home page, look for the Get Help tab toward the top of the page. Under Build library skills, look for the link to Tutorials. On the landing page, you'll find Anatomy of a Research Article. For the broader view, look for the Fundamentals of Library Research option on the left. The Critical Reading and Evaluation link is available here.

Visual: Ask a Librarian page

Also, when looking for answers to frequently asked questions, you can use Quick Answers, which is found from the Ask a librarian page, as well as from many other places on the Walden website. Look for the Quick Answer search box. This has answers from the library and from other areas of student support as well, such as the Writing Center. Just enter your keyword. And this will display questions that we have answers to.

Visual: Quick Review slide

So remember to look at the format of the research articles, making sure that there is a method section and findings. The research has to be done by the author or authors. If the authors are looking at other researchers' data or studies, they have to be answering a new question in addition to having methods and finding sections.

Use the tools in the library databases to limit your results. And use the abstracts to analyze results quickly and efficiently to ensure it's empirical and that it's relevant to your study. And if you have questions, Quick Answers and Ask a librarian are always available.