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Learning Design & Technology

Recommended resources for learning design and technology, including educational technology; instructional systems; distance education; online learning; and related topics.

Steps for finding articles based on empirical research

"Empirical studies are reports of original research. These include secondary analyses that test hypotheses by presenting novel analyses of data not considered or addressed in previous reports. They typically consist of distinct sections that reflect the stages in the research process and that appear in the following sequence: introduction: development of the problem under investigation, including its historical antecedents, and statement of the purpose of the investigation; method: description of the procedures used to conduct the investigation; results: report of the findings and analysis; and discussion: summary, interpretation, and implications of the results." (1)

To find empirical research based articles and reports:

  1. Decide if you need to limit to peer-reviewed, scholarly articles only. 
  2. Some databases allow you to limit your results to empirical, or primary research, articles and reports.
    • ERIC - EBSCO  Instructions & Tips
      ​Journals articles, conference papers, dissertations, curricular material, documents, and more in education.
    • PsycINFO  Instructions & Tips
      Journal articles, books, and book chapters in psychology and related disciplines.
  3. For all other databases, it is possible to construct a strategy using standard search features.  Instructions & Tips
  4. Google Scholar may be a good choice when you have an interdisciplinary topic.  Instructions & Tips

(1) This is an excerpt from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. 6th edition. 2009, and is intended for educational use only.

Using ERIC - EBSCO to locate empirical research

  • Type key words about your topic in the first box.
  • In the Publication type drop-down box, use the Ctrl key to select Information Analyses, Numerical/Qualitative Data, and Reports - Research.

Watch a short 40 second video; no sound.

Using PsycINFO to locate empirical research

  • Type key words about your topic.
  • In the Methodology drop-down box, select EMPIRICAL STUDY.

Watch a short 29 second video, no sound.

Search strategy for all other databases

For all other databases try the following strategy.

  • Type the key words about your topic in the first search box.
  • Type in the second box the following terms and select Abstract or Author-Supplied Abstract in the drop down menu:
    study or results or findings or methodology or data

sample search screen

Search strategy for Google Scholar

  • Configure Google Scholar to display SDSU holdings.  Consult Configure Google Scholar tab.
  • Enter search with parentheses for keyword groups, capitalized connectors, and suggested abstract keywords listed above for all other databases:
    "online courses" AND immediacy AND (study OR results OR findings OR methodology OR data)