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Reading an Empirical Scholarly Article: Home

What is an Empirical Article?

Empirical Journal Article  

Empirical journal articles detail the findings of a study conducted by the author or authors.  The study may be based on observation or research.  Empirical evidence is usually presented in a journal article using statistics, tables, charts or graphs. 

Structure of Article

Abstract-  Useful for Article Selection

  • Provides a brief summary of the article.
  • Included in it are the purpose of the article, the author's hypothesis/argument, and their findings. 

*Introduction/ Literature Review- Article Selection and understanding what the article is about.

What is included may vary a bit. May include:

  • Article's purpose 
  • What information they are trying to find out.
  • What is already known on the topic.
  • Review of previous relevant research on the topic.

*Methodology- Judging credibility of article and finding data/ techniques for your own research.

  • Techniques used for experiment.
  • How the research was designed.
  • Sample size.
  • What is control.                                                              

Findings/Results- Checking author's conclusion against actual results.

  • Data as an of the analysis/research.
  • Charts, Graphs Statistics

Discussion/Conclusion- Interpreting the authors findings and how they fit into literature, implications for future research.

  • restate the author's stance on the subject
  • Prove or disprove the authors thesis.
  • show how their particular argument fits into the existing literature
  • sometimes propose new ideas for further research or thought.

 References/Works Cited/Bibliography- Finding similar resources, checking authors claims.

  • At the end of any scholarly article will be a section entitled bibliography or works cited. In this you will find references to all of the sources and data that the author used to prove their point.

*Articles may call these different things.

How to Read an Empirical Article

General Advice

  • Plan to read the article more than once
  • Don't read it all the way through in one sitting, read strategically first.
  • Take notes
  • Identify relevant conclusions and limitations of study

1. Begin by reading the abstract to get a sense of the article's purpose and findings.  Remember this is not an in depth treatment of the article and should only be used as a means to determine if the article is useful for your research

2. Skim the article, read headings to identify article structure, some articles may be labeled with sections, so label the parts yourself.

3. Read the introduction/literature review, look for the main argument. Think about these questions: What problem are they trying to solve?  What has been done before? What do the authors believe needs to be done next?  What is the hypothesis?​

4. Read the methodology section.  How did they collect the data?  If analyzing data, where is the data coming from?  Can you identify the variables?

5. Examine the Findings/Results.  Look at tables and figures, see if you can determine what they found without reading the captions.  Based upon your examination, do the findings support the hypothesis/argument?

6. Read the Discussion/Conclusion. Do the author(s) believe that their findings support their argument/hypothesis?  Do they acknowledge limitations or issues with their research?

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