Skip to Main Content

HDE 2130 - Diversity, Social Justice, & Ethics (Lawrence)


Empirical articles are those in which authors report on their own study. The authors will have collected data to answer a research question.  Empirical research contains observed and measured examples that inform or answer the research question. The data can be collected in a variety of ways such as interviews, surveys, questionnaires, observations, and various other quantitative and qualitative research methods. 

Identifying empirical research

 Various phrases or keywords can identify articles that use empirical or qualitative research.  These include:

  •  Analysis
  •  Subjects
  •  Sample size
  •  Measure or measurement(s)
  •  Outcomes
  •  Qualitative Research
  •  Usage
  •  Findings
  •  Statistics
  •  Results
  •  Survey
  •  Methodology
  •  Data
  •  Original study
  • Experiment 
  •  Research study


A literature summarizes & analyzes published work on a topic in order to

  • evaluate the state of research on the topic.
  • provide an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already been published on a particular topic.
  • suggest future research and/or gaps in knowledge.
  • synthesize and place into context original research and scholarly literature relevant to the topic (as in the literature review prior within an empirical research article.


The format is usually a bibliographic essay; sources are briefly cited within the body of the essay, with full bibliographic citations at the end.

The introduction should define the topic and set the context for the literature review. It will include the author's perspective or point of view on the topic, how they have defined the scope of the topic (including what's not included), and how the review will be organized. It can point out overall trends, conflicts in methodology or conclusions, and gaps in the research.

The body of the review should organize the research into major topics and subtopics. These groupings may be by subject, (e.g., globalization of clothing manufacturing), type of research (e.g., case studies), methodology (e.g., qualitative), genre, chronology, or other common characteristics. Within these groups the author can then discuss the merits of each article and provide analysis and comparison of the importance of each article to similar ones.

The conclusion will summarize the main findings, make clear how this review of the literature supports (or not) the research to follow, and may point the direction for further research.

The list of references will include full citations for all of the items mentioned in the lit review.

A theoretical article contains or refers to new or established abstract principles related to a specific field of knowledge. These article are peer reviewed but do not normally contain research or present experimental data.

How do I know I found a theoretical article?

Look for terms like concepts, conceptual, framework, model, theoretical foundation, and perspectives.

Scholarly journals will publish some types of articles that are not peer reviewed or based on research.  

Remember that not every article in peer-reviewed journals is a peer-reviewed research article.

Editorials: Often times the editor of a journal will write an article with his or opinion or summary of the article. This can lead you to good sources but are not appropriate for most research papers.


For questions or feedback contact the McQuade Library
Call us: 978-837-5177 | Text us:  978-228-2275 | Email us: