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COJO 320 - Organizational Communication: Getting Started

A library course guide for CoJo 320, Prof. Xiaowen Guan

What is Empirical Research?

Empirical Research is based on experimentation or observation, such as evidence.  It is the kind of research that is often conducted to answer a specific question, or to test a hypothesis.

Research articles consisting of empirical research are written in a specific way/style. Below are some tips to help you identify appropriate research article;  articles are divided into the following sections:


Each section may be further divided into subsections. 
To determine if you are looking at an empirical research article, check to see that it has these sections.
What each section stands for:

Title:  a brief description of the research, including author(s)' name(s)

Abstract: a summary of the research (about a paragraph long). 

Introduction: provides background information about the research problem.  It could include information on similar studies, explain the reason(s) for conducting the research and offer additional information that might be needed to understand the research problem or the research described in the paper. 

Methods: a description of how the research was conducted.  Sometimes referred to as Methodology.

Results:  the ‘answer’ to the research question.  This section describes and analyzes the data found by the research.

Discussion: implications of the results found.  This section may compare, contrast and discuss the data gathered to other research on similar topics.  It may be referred to as Conclusion (or, at times it's divided into a Discussion and Conclusion).

References:  the list of citations for other materials that were mentioned in the article. May be referred to as: Works Cited or Bibliography. 


Dr. Guan's instructions for doing your research:

Start the Search

-Use the tab “Article Databases” to search for articles. Click any one of the databases to start.
-To demonstrate the details, I will use the database of “Emerald Management” as an example. You can use any of the databases for your research though. Click "Emerald Management" and you will be taken to the database page. Type in key words or phrases in the “Search for” area. Modify your research within journals in the pull-down menu.

Modify the Search

-A general search usually lead to more results than you need. Browsing through all the articles is not only time-consuming but unnecessary. In order to be more focused on your research, you will need to use the “Modify search” function to narrow it down.

-Click "Modify search" Narrow your search in 1) where the key words appear. Generally speaking, “Abstract” is a good choice. “Journal Title” would be fine too but it may limit the research too much. You can further narrow the research by adding more key words and the type of paper (use "Research paper" to help narrow it down).
-If the research is too narrow, go back to the “Modify research” page and loosen up some of the requirements. For example, you can leave out some key words or broaden the location of the key words appear.


Peer-Reviewed Journals

"Refereed" or "Peer Reviewed" Journals

"Peer review" is the process through which experts in a field of study examine and assess the quality of articles before they are published. Peer review insures that the research described in a journal's articles is sound and of high quality.
Sometimes the term "refereed" is used instead of peer reviewed.