Empirical Research – Characteristics & Advantages

03.09.20 Qualitative vs. Quantitative Time to read: 5min

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Many people ascribe to the quote, “I will not believe it unless I see it.” What most don’t know is that this quote came from empirical research enthusiasts in the renaissance period and is currently a cornerstone for modern science and research. The word empirical has a Greek origin from empeirikos, meaning experienced.

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Empirical Research – FAQs

This is a type of research whose findings and conclusions are based on valid data or evidence. These pieces of evidence are collected using either or both qualitative research and quantitative research. In philosophy, empiricism is concluding direct observations and assessment instead of using logic alone.

An excellent example of empirical research is the process of DNA testing and its findings.

While empirical research focuses on individual pieces of evidence and facts, the non-empirical study considers personal judgment and authoritative experience as necessary as the data collected.

A research project can use either descriptive, relational, or causal questions to collect and analyse data.

This form of research is quite useful in science, history, and business as it validates hypothesis, thus increasing human knowledge with tangible pieces of evidence.

Empirical Research: Definition

Empirical Resarch is a type of research where the conclusions and decisions are based on valid data or evidence. Empirical research  can be analysed quantitatively or qualitatively. Instead of using only logic,  in philosophy empiricism is concluding direct observations and assessment.

Characteristics of Empirical Research

The distinctive feature of empirical research is its strictness in collecting and observing data and experiences to collect useful information that is used to create a provable analysis. For this reason, the research has six main characteristics, better known as the steps to complete empirical research.



The first step involves coming up with the foundational purpose of the research. The researcher answers questions like:

  • What do I want to find out?
  • How do I define the problem statement?
  • Is the data readily available?
  • Are there challenges that might limit the collection of data in terms of time, resources, language barrier, etc.?
  • What is the ratio between the research itself and the finding in terms of profitability? In short, is it worth the effort?

This is the area where the researcher goes deep into why he/she wants to perform it and what he/she seeks to find or prove from the outcome.



The second step involves having an initial report for the research. Here, any facts ever documented on the same are highlighted plus the statement of hypotheses for the current study. Also, the parties involved describe tolerable errors, measurements, and acceptable methods in this section.



This is where the actual research takes place, plus the recording of the process and data. Researchers decide whether they will use experimental or non-experimental methods for data collection in relation t the hypotheses. Depending on the field of research, they will then carve out a research design that can maximise their resources and methods of data collection. Data collection techniques are then used, which might include sampling and questionnaire methods.



Some researchers merge this part with step 3, while others handle them separately. This is where the findings from the data collection methods are put together. The data is then cleaned and analysed.



Data analysis methods include qualitative or quantitative methods. From either or both of these methods, researchers cheque their findings to support or reject their hypothesis. A discussion on the interpretation and implications of the findings plus the study as a whole is then documented for formal use.



Finally, credit is given to whomever the credit is due. Citations or a bibliography with materials used in the report are also included.

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Uses of Empirical Research

Thanks to it insisting on having tangible pieces of evidence, empirical research comes in handy in various disciplines. The most prevalent uses are in medicine, anthropology and law. In medicine, the research helps to prove several hypotheses that increase human knowledge on the body’s behaviour and adaptability to new methods of handling diseases.

In the legal field, this type of research helps to study how rules and regulations impact the society or a certain institution understudy while in anthropology, it follows human patterns to understand cultures.

Empirical Research Methods

The two main methods used in empirical research are quantitative and qualitative. In quantitative research, numerical data is used to collect information or any other quantifiable process. The most common examples are polls, longitudinal studies and surveys.

On the other hand, qualitative research focuses more on meaning, underlying reasons and opinions from the data collected. The method takes on an unstructured approach or semi-structured. By the nature of its data, the method provides in-depth information and is often a smaller sample. Its examples include interviews, groups, and experiments.

Empirical vs Non-Empirical Research

While empirical research stops at verifiable data, non-empirical research includes authoritative opinions and logic. This is to add some meaning to the data for further elabouration. In short, data from the non-empirical study is theorised. While empirical research uses qualitative and quantitative methods, a researcher using the non-empirical method will use a lot of systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and critical studies to conclude the matter at hand.

GOOD TO KNOW: Read our article about Research Methodology!

Advantages of Empirical Research

First and foremost, this form of research has increased the credibility of findings, making it easy for somaeone to make an argument out of facts instead of theoretical assumptions. It keeps works authentic, formal, and verifiable, thus increasing the quality depth of information.

Secondly, empirical research is quite flexible. The researcher has the authority to adjust methodologies and also the sample size to suit any form of necessity. All in all, it is easy and the most reliable type of research.

In a Nutshell

Empirical research is, in short, an essential approach to building up information and making provable arguments to support specific implications. To wrap this up:

  • Empirical research is a valid form of research that leaves no room for misinterpretation of information.
  • Both qualitative and quantitative methods help to draw viable conclusions and are useful in this form of research.
  • A researcher is free to explore the best approach to reach a viable conclusion within the empirical survey.