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SWK 304: Perspectives on SWK Research I

Empirical articles

An empirical or primary research article reports on a study conducted by the authors. A review of the literature is an important step in any research study, but an empirical article goes on to describe the details of a specific study. This type of article:
  • Asks a research question or states a hypothesis
  • Identifies the population and specifies the number of subjects studied (sample size) and how they were selected (sampling method)
  • Describes the source of the data and methods used to collect it
  • Describes the research design or method (though it is not always explicitly stated)
  • Includes a results section describing major findings

Words to look for as clues include: analysis, study, investigation, examination, experiment, numbers of people or objects analyzed, control group, or survey.

To contrast, the following are NOT primary research articles (they are secondary sources):
  • Literature reviews*
  • Meta-Analyses/Review articles* (arrive at conclusions based on research from many other studies)
  • Editorials
  • Letters
  • Chapters in books
  • Encyclopedia articles
  • Speeches and interviews

* Literature reviews and meta-analyses also describe the authors' research method/methodology, focusing on their database search strategy and development of criteria for including or excluding individual study results. These articles are still secondary sources because they synthesize the findings of multiple research studies; the authors are not the primary researchers.

Essential Databases

Click Choose Databases above the search entry boxes in one of the databases listed below to select multiple databases. Then limit to Peer Reviewed using the checkboxes on the left side of your search result list.
  • If full text is not available, follow the link to "Request via Interlibrary Loan." Complete the form and submit. The article will be emailed to you, usually within 24-48 hours. 
More databases:

Using Google Scholar? These step-by-step instructions show you how to locate full text (either free online, or free to you through CSU).

Off campus?

Many electronic resources (research databases, e-books, etc.) are limited to CSU students, faculty, and staff when accessed off campus. You may be prompted to authenticate by entering your CampusNet ID and password. 

Questions? Here are some tips for resolving common connection problems.

Search Tips

Productive and effective searching:

  • Start with one or two keywords and use Boolean operators to combine terms
    • combine synonyms with OR to include related terms (adolescent or teen or young adult)
    • Add terms with AND to narrow results (parenting and addiction)
  • Review results to brainstorm additional or alternate keyword options
  • Try multiple searches with different keywords and explore more than one database
  • Apply limiters thoughtfully
    • After seeing how productive your keywords are, limit to peer reviewed and English language
    • Other limiters to try:
      • Date range
      • Full text 
      • Other database-specific limit options (type of study or article, methodology, age range, etc.)