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Social Work 662: Methods of Social Welfare Research (Lee)

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Empirical research requires observation or actual experience that is able to be measured; the resulting empirical evidence documents the observations and can be analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively.

Characteristics to look for in empirically based research:

  • Identifies a problem, population, or research question under study

  • Methodology is stated

  • Alternate course of action may be included

  • Defines the group or issue being studied

  • May be quantitative or qualitative  [check with your course instructor or syllabus, as the course focus may be on just one or the other]

  • May include tests or surveys (embedded, as an appendix, or referred to by Proper Name)

  • May be reproducible; to be replicated or adapted to a new study


Some databases have a filter or advanced search limiter to focus results on empirical research. See the database descriptions elsewhere on this page for details.

If a filter/limiter is not available, enter keywords to match on appropriate content and/or to look for these terms in the summary abstract or article itself:

  • design

  • hypothesis

  • method

  • quantitative

  • statistic* (to match on statistic, statistics or statistical)

  • [inclusion of] charts, statistical tables or graphs

Advanced Search Tips for Finding Articles Based on Empirical Research

Locating empirical research:
The UWM Libraries offers several databases for accessing scholarly resources based on empirical research.  Some include a coded search limiter for EMPIRICAL-based methodology.  See the Search Tips below.