PLSC 210 - Political Analysis

Library Guide for Introduction to Political Analysis

Ace the Assignment

Success tip:  don’t just read the assignment, analyze it!

Professors expect students to follow directions carefully, but what do they actually mean by those directions? Figure out what an assignment is really asking, and you have the key to a successful paper.

What is an Empirical Study?

Your assignment may ask you to identify and select articles reporting empirical research studies.  So, what does this mean?

"Empirical" research is a kind of primary (original) research that gathers or creates information through direct experience based on experiment or observation.  This is different from research that might derive conclusions solely by theory, logic or reasoning.  It is also not the same as research that reviews, summarizes, critiques or re-thinks existing information, which we generally call "secondary."

How do you know if a study is empirical?  Look for tell-tale signs in the title and abstract, especially for the method of research.  For example, the abstract might mention research design, methods or measurements.

Common phrases that usually signal empirical research:  "In this study, we..." "this research addresses..." "research was conducted..."

Common methods words to describe empirical research:  survey, interview, observe, measure, test.  

Test yourself - which of these are empirical? 

Hint:  you don't need to click through to the article - use the 'preview' link to read the abstract

Scholarly or Peer-Reviewed Articles

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