What Is Empirical Research? Definition And Tips For Students

empirical research

So what is an empirical research article? What does empirical research entail? What are good examples of empirical research topics? These are common questions most students find themselves asking whenever a research paper instructs them to read and analyze empirical articles or evidence to answer a particular question. Such questions also arise when it comes to graduation papers and many students just ask writers to help. If this points out your current dilemma, then you are in good company because below is a well-detailed guide on all you need to know about empirical research.

Definition of Empirical Research

Empirical research is a type of research whose findings or conclusions are mainly drawn from empirical or verifiable evidence rather than rationality.

Simply put, empirical research is any research whose findings are based on observable or experimentation evidence rather than through reasoning or logic alone.

For instance, if a scientist wants to find out whether soft music promotes sleep, he or she will find a group of people and divide them into two groups.

The first group will be in a space with soft music while the second one will be in an area with no music at all for observation. Once the experiment is over, the results or conclusion drawn from it will be termed as empirical evidence whether or not soft music promotes sleep.

The Objectives of Empirical Research

There is more to empirical research than just observations. In fact, these observations will be useless if the scientist does not turn them into testable questions. So, now that you know what empirical research entails, what are the objectives? Well, the main reason why you’ll be asked to conduct such research is so you can use the findings drawn from your observations to answer well-defined questions that go with or against a particular hypothesis.

In the earlier mentioned example, for instance, the hypothesis would be “soft music promotes sleep.” Thus, the aim of carrying out empirical research, in this case, would be to come up with conclusions that either accept or reject the hypotheses.

Now to achieve this, you can either use quantitative or qualitative methodologies. Here is a breakdown of what each of the mentioned entails

Quantitative Methods

Quantitative empirical research methods are often used to collect information and draw conclusions through numerical data. Quantitative methods are usually predetermined and are set in a more structured format. Some good examples include

  1. Surveys
  2. Longitudinal studies
  3. Cross-sectional studies
  4. Experimental research
  5. Causal comparative research

The above techniques are often more effective for physics or medicine.

Qualitative Methods

Qualitative empirical research methods, on the other hand, are used to gather non-numerical data. They are mainly unstructured or semi-structured and are used to find meaning or underlying reasons for a particular phenomenon. In other words, they are used to provide more insight into the problem being researched. So, is qualitative research empirical? The short answer to that is yes. It is indeed empirical but more appropriate in finding answers to social science-related questions.

Types of Empirical Research

Note, there is a difference between methodologies and types of empirical research. Methodologies are the earlier mentioned quantitative and qualitative, and they refer to the methods used to conduct or analyze data. But when it comes to types of empirical research, it can be either experimental or non-experimental.

In experimental research, a particular intervention is often used to drive a hypothesized changed in the variables of interest. In non-experimental empirical research, however, the subjects of the study are simply observed without any form of intervention. This is why it’s also referred to as informal research.

How to Identify Empirical Research Articles

Now that you know the types of empirical research as well as methodologies, how do you distinguish an empirical research paper from a regular research paper? Well, as with any other research question, empirical research questions usually have features that can help you identify them as shown below

Empirical Research Article Format

The easiest way to identify an empirical research article is through its unique format. It’s usually divided into these sections

  • The Title. It offers an overview of the research and also includes the author(s) who conducted it
  • An abstract. It provides a very brief yet comprehensive summary of the empirical research study. It’s usually a paragraph long.
  • The Introduction. Here the author provides background information on the research problem. For instance, they talk about similar studies and explain why the research was conducted in the first place.
  • The MethodsIn this section, the author offers a detailed description of all methods used to conduct the empirical research study. In some articles, it may be titled methodology.
  • The Results. Here the author provides the answer to the research question.
  • DiscussionThe author will then go on to give a detailed discussion of the data obtained or the results found above. They may also compare the results of their empirical research study to the results obtained by other empirical studies on similar topics.
  • ReferencesHere as you may have guessed, the author lists citations of any journal articles, studies, or books mentioned or used in coming up with the results.

Keywords Used in an Empirical Research Paper

Other than the format, you can also identify an empirical research paper based on the phrases used within it. Some of the must-have keywords include:

  • Measure or measurements
  • Qualitative and quantitative research
  • Sample size
  • Methodology
  • Original study or research study
  • Analysis
  • Outcome
  • Findings

Empirical Research Examples

Some of the empirical questions you could come across in empirical research include:

  1. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, at which level are, leaders need level?
  2. The lop-sided sales of illegal guns among licensed handgun retailers.
  3. Freeway truck travel-time prediction for seamless freight planning using GPS data.
  4. Use empirical research to explain the entrepreneurial mindset concerning cognition and motivation.
  5. Are meta-analysis reviews theoretical or empirical research?

Theoretical vs. Empirical Research

Unlike empirical research, which is based on valid or observational evidence, theoretical research is more logical than observational. It is a logical exploration of a system of assumptions and involves defining how a particular system and its environment behave without the analysis of concrete data.

Therefore, theoretical research can be classified as non-empirical data as it is conducted without data. It is essential as it offers anyone conducting research a place to start. For instance, saying soft music promotes sleep gives the researcher a hypothesis to base their research proposal on and an easy way to start. However, theoretical data is only useful if empirical research is conducted.

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