Research Vs Non-Research Articles

Objective: What is an empirical research article? To distinguish between empirical research and non-empirical research articles the following checklists list what each one should and should not look like.


Research articles should include at least one hypothesis and/or a proposed question.  Does the author propose a hypothesis to be tested with empirical data?  Does the author propose a question to be explored with empirical data? The scientific method has two primary forms. First, the deductive scientific method follows these three steps: 1) state a hypothesis; 2) collect data; 3) make a decision to tentatively accept or reject the hypothesis. Second, the inductive scientific method also follows three steps: 1) make observations; 2) search for a pattern in the data; 3) make tentative conclusion about the pattern. The deductive method is a “top down” approach; the inductive method is a “bottom up” approach. Sometimes research involves cycles of both inductive and deductive inference making from the data. Both methods rely on the collection of empirical data. The key question is, “Did they collect data?”

  1. Research articles should include a method section, which typically includes description of the participants, the instruments or tools used, and the procedures followed in the study. Does the author of the article describe the process of testing or exploring the answer to a research question? The author should explain who, what, when, where and how the research was conducted.

2.      Research articles typically include a section on results, where the research findings are presented.

3.      Research articles typically end with a discussion section where the researcher presents the implications of the findings and makes suggestions for future research.

4.      Research articles should be peer reviewed.  This is a standard preference of most professors.  Research articles should be from a peer-reviewed journal.



1.      Research should not be an opinion-based document.  

2.      Research articles should not be newspaper articles.  Did you find the article in a newspaper or magazine?  

3.      Research articles should not be editorials.  Is the article a presentation of the author's opinion on some topic? 

4.      Research articles should not be book or test reviews.  Is the article an evaluation of a book or measurement tool?

5.      Research articles should not be columns giving advice or explaining how to carry out some task.  Can you summarize your article with a statement beginning with "how to"?