A peer reviewed article is a scholarly article that is rigorously reviewed by 3-5 scholars in the same field. The process of review ensures the quality of research presented in the article.
Peer reviewed articles can include:
You can filter your results to peer-review when searching for articles. PowerSearch results have check box that allows users to narrow results to only peer-reviewed articles. Usually databases have a peer-review check box or limiter that you can select, too.
Look for the IMRaD layout in the article, or something similar, to help identify empirical research.
Introduction: why the article was written, research question or questions, hypothesis, literature review
Methods: the overall research design and implementation, description of sample, instruments used, how the authors measured their experiment
Results: output of the author's measurements, usually includes statistics of the author's findings
Discussion: the author's interpretation and conclusions about the results, limitations of study, suggestions for further research
Refer to the Forms of Evidence on this page to determine the quality of evidence gathered by a particular study.
When searching, try using terms that relate to the method used in empirical research in addition to keywords related to your topic, such as: (generalized anxiety AND treatment*) AND (randomized clinical trial* OR clinical trial*). You can also try using terms related to the type of instrument used, such as: (generalized anxiety AND intervention*) AND (survey OR questionnaire).
Research studies come in many different forms. Experts in the field of evidence-based social work practice often rank types of research studies according to their reliability. Reliability is the consistency and stability of a measurement instrument across time and subjects. These rankings often take the form of an an evidence hierarchy.
In the preface to A Guide to Treatments that Work, Nathan and Gorman (2015) outline a hierarchy of research articles. Articles based on type 1 studies represent the most reliable form of evidence.
Nathan, P.E. & Gorman, J.M. (2015). A guide to treatments that work. Oxford: Oxford University Press.