Empirical research

Empirical research is research using empirical evidence. It is a way of gaining knowledge by means of direct and indirect observation or experience. Empiricism values such research more than other kinds. Empirical evidence (the record of one's direct observations or experiences) can be analyzed quantitatively or qualitatively. Quantifying the evidence or making sense of it in qualitative form, a researcher can answer empirical questions, which should be clearly defined and answerable with the evidence collected (usually called data). Research design varies by field and by the question being investigated. Many researchers combine qualitative and quantitative forms of analysis to better answer questions which cannot be studied in laboratory settings, particularly in the social sciences and in education.

In some fields, quantitative research may begin with a research question (e.g., "Does listening to vocal music during the learning of a word list have an effect on later memory for these words?") which is tested through experimentation. Usually, a researcher has a certain theory regarding the topic under investigation. Based on this theory, statements or hypotheses will be proposed (e.g., "Listening to vocal voice has a negative effect on learning a word list."). From these hypotheses, predictions about specific events are derived (e.g., "People who study a word list while listening to vocal music will remember fewer words on a later memory test than people who study a word list in silence."). These predictions can then be tested with a suitable experiment. Depending on the outcomes of the experiment, the theory on which the hypotheses and predictions were based will be supported or not,[1] or may need to be modified and then subjected to further testing.


The term empirical was originally used to refer to certain ancient Greek practitioners of medicine who rejected adherence to the dogmatic doctrines of the day, preferring instead to rely on the observation of phenomena as perceived in experience. Later empiricism referred to a theory of knowledge in philosophy which adheres to the principle that knowledge arises from experience and evidence gathered specifically using the senses. In scientific use, the term empirical refers to the gathering of data using only evidence that is observable by the senses or in some cases using calibrated scientific instruments. What early philosophers described as empiricist and empirical research have in common is the dependence on observable data to formulate and test theories and come to conclusions.


The researcher attempts to describe accurately the interaction between the instrument (or the human senses) and the entity being observed. If instrumentation is involved, the researcher is expected to calibrate his/her instrument by applying it to known standard objects and documenting the results before applying it to unknown objects. In other words, it describes the research that has not taken place before and their results.

In practice, the accumulation of evidence for or against any particular theory involves planned research designs for the collection of empirical data, and academic rigor plays a large part of judging the merits of research design. Several typologies for such designs have been suggested, one of the most popular of which comes from Campbell and Stanley.[2] They are responsible for popularizing the widely cited distinction among pre-experimental, experimental, and quasi-experimental designs and are staunch advocates of the central role of randomized experiments in educational research.

Scientific research

Accurate analysis of data using standardized statistical methods in scientific studies is critical to determining the validity of empirical research. Statistical formulas such as regression, uncertainty coefficient, t-test, chi square, and various types of ANOVA (analyses of variance) are fundamental to forming logical, valid conclusions. If empirical data reach significance under the appropriate statistical formula, the research hypothesis is supported. If not, the null hypothesis is supported (or, more accurately, not rejected), meaning no effect of the independent variable(s) was observed on the dependent variable(s).

The outcome of empirical research using statistical hypothesis testing is never proof. It can only support a hypothesis, reject it, or do neither. These methods yield only probabilities.

Among scientific researchers, empirical evidence (as distinct from empirical research) refers to objective evidence that appears the same regardless of the observer. For example, a thermometer will not display different temperatures for each individual who observes it. Temperature, as measured by an accurate, well calibrated thermometer, is empirical evidence. By contrast, non-empirical evidence is subjective, depending on the observer. Following the previous example, observer A might truthfully report that a room is warm, while observer B might truthfully report that the same room is cool, though both observe the same reading on the thermometer. The use of empirical evidence negates this effect of personal (i.e., subjective) experience or time.

The varying perception of empiricism and rationalism shows concern with the limit to which there is dependency on experience of sense as an effort of gaining knowledge. According to rationalism, there are a number of different ways in which sense experience is gained independently for the knowledge and concepts. According to empiricism, sense experience is considered as the main source of every piece of knowledge and the concepts. In reference with a specific piece of knowledge, this paper will focus on differentiating between rationalism and empiricism or rational views and empirical views. In general, rationalists are known for the development of their own views following two different way. First, the key argument can be placed that there are cases in which the content of knowledge or concepts end up outstripping the information. This outstripped information is provided by the sense experience (Hjørland, 2010, 2). Second, there is construction of accounts as to how reasoning helps in the provision of addition knowledge about a specific or broader scope. Empiricists are known to be presenting complementary senses related to thought. First there is development of accounts of how there is provision of information by experience that is cited by rationalists. This is insofar for having it in the initial place. At times, empiricists tend to be opting skepticism as an option of rationalism. If experience is not helpful in the provision of knowledge or concept cited by rationalists, then they do not exist (Pearce, 2010, 35). Second, empiricists hold the tendency of attacking the accounts of rationalists while considering reasoning to be an important source of knowledge or concepts. The overall disagreement between empiricists and rationalists show primary concerns in how there is gaining of knowledge with respect to the sources of knowledge and concept. In some of the cases, disagreement at the point of gaining knowledge results in the provision of conflicting responses to other aspects as well. There might be a disagreement in the overall feature of warrant, while limiting the knowledge and thought. Empiricists are known for sharing the view that there is no existence of innate knowledge and rather that is derivation of knowledge out of experience. These experiences are either reasoned using the mind or sensed through the five senses human possess (Bernard, 2011, 5). On the other hand, rationalists are known to be sharing the view that there is existence of innate knowledge and this is different for the objects of innate knowledge being chosen. In order to follow rationalism, there must be adoption of one of the three claims related to the theory that are Deduction or Intuition, Innate Knowledge, and Innate Concept. The more there is removal of concept from mental operations and experience, there can be performance over experience with increased plausibility in being innate. Further ahead, empiricism in context with a specific subject provides a rejection of corresponding version related to innate knowledge and deduction or intuition (Weiskopf, 2008, 16). Insofar as there is acknowledgement of concepts and knowledge within the area of subject, the knowledge has major dependence on experience through human senses.

Empirical cycle

Empirical Cycle
Empirical cycle according to A.D. de Groot

A.D. de Groot's empirical cycle:[3]

  1. Observation: The observation of a phenomenon and inquiry concerning its causes.
  2. Induction: The formulation of hypotheses - generalized explanations for the phenomenon.
  3. Deduction: The formulation of experiments that will test the hypotheses (i.e. confirm them if true, refute them if false).
  4. Testing: The procedures by which the hypotheses are tested and data are collected.
  5. Evaluation: The interpretation of the data and the formulation of a theory - an abductive argument that presents the results of the experiment as the most reasonable explanation for the phenomenon.

See also


  1. ^ Goodwin, C. J. (2005). Research in Psychology: Methods and Design. USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  2. ^ Campbell, D. & Stanley, J. (1963). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for research. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  3. ^ Heitink, G. (1999). Practical Theology: History, Theory, Action Domains: Manual for Practical Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, p. 233. ISBN 9780802842947

External links

American Journal of Education

The American Journal of Education seeks to bridge and integrate the intellectual, methodological, and substantive diversity of educational scholarship and to encourage a vigorous dialogue between educational scholars and policy makers. It publishes empirical research, from a wide range of traditions, that contribute to the development of knowledge across the broad field of education.

American Journal of Epidemiology

The American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) is a peer-reviewed journal for empirical research findings, opinion pieces, and methodological developments in the field of epidemiological research. The current Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Moyses Szklo.

Articles published in AJE are indexed by PubMed, Embase, and a number of other databases. AJE offers open access options for authors. It is published semi-monthly. Entire issues have been dedicated to abstracts from academic meetings (Society of Epidemiologic Research, North American Congress of Epidemiology), the history of the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the life of George W. Comstock, and the celebration of notable anniversaries of schools of public health (University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health; Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health).

AJE is currently ranked 4th in the field of epidemiology according to Google Scholar. It has an impact factor of 5.230 (as of 2014) and the 5-year impact factor is 5.632 according to Journal Citation Reports.

Conceptual framework

A conceptual framework is an analytical tool with several variations and contexts. It can be applied in different categories of work where an overall picture is needed. It is used to make conceptual distinctions and organize ideas. Strong conceptual frameworks capture something real and do this in a way that is easy to remember and apply.

Isaiah Berlin used the metaphor of a "fox" and a "hedgehog" to make conceptual distinctions in how important philosophers and authors view the world. Berlin describes hedgehogs as those who use a single idea or organizing principle to view the world (such as Dante Alighieri, Blaise Pascal, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Plato, Henrik Ibsen and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel). Foxes, on the other hand, incorporate a type of pluralism and view the world through multiple, sometimes conflicting, lenses (examples include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Aristotle, Herodotus, Molière, and Honoré de Balzac).

Economists use the conceptual framework of "supply" and "demand" to distinguish between the behavior and incentive systems of firms and consumers. Like many conceptual frameworks, supply and demand can be presented through visual or graphical representations (see demand curve). Both political Science and economics use principal agent theory as a conceptual framework. The politics-administration dichotomy is a long standing conceptual framework used in public administration. All three of these cases are examples of a macro level conceptual framework.

Construct (philosophy)

A construct in the philosophy of science is an ideal object, where the existence of the thing may be said to depend upon a subject's mind. This contrasts with a real object, where existence does not seem to depend on the existence of a mind.In a scientific theory, particularly within psychology, a hypothetical construct is an explanatory variable which is not directly observable. For example, the concepts of intelligence and motivation are used to explain phenomena in psychology, but neither is directly observable. A hypothetical construct differs from an intervening variable in that it has properties and implications which have not been demonstrated in empirical research. These serve as a guide to further research. An intervening variable, on the other hand, is a summary of observed empirical findings.

The creation of constructs is a part of operationalization, especially the creation of theoretical definitions. The usefulness of one conceptualization over another depends largely on construct validity. To address the non-observability of constructs, U.S. federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute has created a construct database termed Grid-Enabled Measures (GEM) to improve construct use and reuse.


An explanation is a set of statements usually constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context, and consequences of those facts. This description of the facts et cetera may establish rules or laws, and may clarify the existing rules or laws in relation to any objects, or phenomena examined. The components of an explanation can be implicit, and interwoven with one another.

An explanation is often underpinned by an understanding or norm that can be represented by different media such as music, text, and graphics. Thus, an explanation is subjected to interpretation, and discussion.

In scientific research, explanation is one of several purposes for empirical research. Explanation is a way to uncover new knowledge, and to report relationships among different aspects of studied phenomena. Explanation attempts to answer the "why" and "how" questions. Explanations have varied explanatory power. The formal hypothesis is the theoretical tool used to verify explanation in empirical research.


Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans. In human history, its most dramatic rise was during the Age of Discovery when European explorers sailed and charted much of the rest of the world for a variety of reasons. Since then, major explorations after the Age of Discovery have occurred for reasons mostly aimed at information discovery.

In scientific research, exploration is one of three purposes of empirical research (the other two being description and explanation). The term is often used metaphorically. For example, an individual may speak of exploring the Internet, sexuality, etc.


A fallacy is the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning, or "wrong moves" in the construction of an argument. A fallacious argument may be deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. Some fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, while others are committed unintentionally due to carelessness or ignorance. The soundness of legal arguments depends on the context in which the arguments are made.Fallacies are commonly divided into "formal" and "informal". A formal fallacy can be expressed neatly in a standard system of logic, such as propositional logic, while an informal fallacy originates in an error in reasoning other than an improper logical form. Arguments containing informal fallacies may be formally valid, but still fallacious.A special case is a mathematical fallacy, an intentionally invalid mathematical proof, often with the error subtle and somehow concealed. Mathematical fallacies are typically crafted and exhibited for educational purposes, usually taking the form of spurious proofs of obvious contradictions.

Intimate relationship

An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship that involves physical or emotional intimacy. Although an intimate relationship is commonly a sexual relationship, it may also be a non-sexual relationship involving family, friends, or acquaintances.Emotional intimacy involves feelings of liking or loving one or more people, and may result in physical intimacy. Physical intimacy is characterized by romantic love, sexual activity, or other passionate attachment. These relationships play a central role in the overall human experience. Humans have a general desire to belong and to love, which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship. Such relationships allow a social network for people to form strong emotional attachments.

Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics

The Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics is a peer-reviewed academic journal that covers ethics and medical ethics. The editor-in-chief is Joan E. Sieber (California State University, East Bay). It was established in 2006 and is published by Sage Publications.

Juraj Schenk

Juraj Schenk (born May 6, 1948) is former Foreign Minister of Slovakia from 1994 to 1996 in cabinet of Vladimír Mečiar.

Schenk studied sociology at the Univezita Komenského, Bratislava and is working there since 1972. In 1994 he became a professor of sociology and is teaching there until now.

His main professional interests include sociological methodology, self-organisation of social systems (synergetics, chaos theory), causal modelling, construction of sociological theories and empirical research.

His current research activities concern with Alexander Hirner's methodological conception, scaling in sociological research, chaos theory and empirical research.

Lists of skepticism topics

Scientific skepticism (also spelled scepticism) is the practice of questioning whether claims are supported by empirical research and have reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". Scientific skepticism, or skepticism for short, manifests itself since the 20th century as a societal phenomenon involving several individuals and more or less organised groups through several different media, commonly referred to as "the skeptical movement". This is a compilation of the various lists about skepticism with articles in Wikipedia.

List of books about skepticism

List of notable skeptics

List of notable debunkers

List of prizes for evidence of the paranormal

List of skeptical conferences

List of skeptical magazines

List of skeptical organizations

List of skeptical podcasts

National Economic Council (United States)

The National Economic Council (NEC) of the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering economic policy matters, separate from matters relating to domestic policy, which are the domain of the Domestic Policy Council. The council forms part of the Office of White House Policy which contains the National Economic Council and other offices. The Director of the NEC is titled the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council. The NEC is distinct from the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), which was established in 1946. The CEA provides much of the objective empirical research for the White House and prepares the annual Economic Report of the President.

Operations management

Operations management is an area of management concerned with designing and controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations in the production of goods or services. It involves the responsibility of ensuring that business operations are efficient in terms of using as few resources as needed and effective in terms of meeting customer requirements. Operations management is primarily concerned with planning, organizing and supervising in the contexts of production, manufacturing or the provision of services. It is concerned with managing an entire production system which is the process that converts inputs (in the forms of raw materials, labor, and energy) into outputs (in the form of goods and/or services), or delivers a product or services. Operations produce products, manage quality and creates service. Operation management covers sectors like banking systems, hospitals, companies, working with suppliers, customers, and using technology. Operations is one of the major functions in an organization along with supply chains, marketing, finance and human resources. The operations function requires management of both the strategic and day-to-day production of goods and services.

In managing manufacturing or service operations several types of decisions are made including operations strategy, product design, process design, quality management, capacity, facilities planning, production planning and inventory control. Each of these requires an ability to analyze the current situation and find better solutions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of manufacturing or service operations.


Phenomenology may refer to:

Empirical research, when used to describe measurement methods in some sciences

An empirical relationship or phenomenological model

Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties

Phenomenology (archaeology), based upon understanding cultural landscapes from a sensory perspective

Phenomenology (philosophy), a philosophical method and school of philosophy founded by Edmund Husserl (1859–1938)

Phenomenology (physics), a branch of physics that deals with the application of theory to experiments

Phenomenology (psychology), subjective experiences or their study

Poetics (journal)

Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts is a bimonthly peer-reviewed academic journal covering the field of poetics and the empirical study of literature. The editors-in-chief are Tally Katz-Gerro (University of Manchester), Jennifer C. Lena (Columbia University), Jorg Rössel (Universität Zürich), and Marc Verboord (Erasmus University Rotterdam). It is published by Elsevier and was established in 1971. According to the Journal Citation Reports, the journal has a 2014 impact factor of 1.293.


Research comprises "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. Research projects can be used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school research project, they can be used to further a student's research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to applied research) are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities, artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner research, life, technological, etc.

Secular Buddhism

Secular Buddhism—sometimes also referred to as agnostic Buddhism, Buddhist agnosticism, ignostic Buddhism, atheistic Buddhism, pragmatic Buddhism, Buddhist atheism, or Buddhist secularism—is a broad term for an emerging form of Buddhism and secular spirituality that is based on humanist, skeptical, and/or agnostic values, as well as pragmatism and (often) naturalism, rather than religious (or more specifically supernatural or paranormal) beliefs.

Secular Buddhists interpret the teachings of the Buddha and the Buddhist texts in a rationalist and often evidentialist manner, considering the historical and cultural contexts of the times in which the Buddha lived and the various suttas, sutras and tantras were written.

Within the framework of secular Buddhism, Buddhist doctrine may be stripped of any unspecified combination of various traditional beliefs that could be considered superstitious, or that cannot be tested through empirical research, namely: supernatural beings (such as devas, bodhisattvas, nāgas, pretas, Buddhas, etc.), merit and its transference, rebirth, Buddhist cosmology (including the existence of pure lands and hells), etc.

Traditional Buddhist ethics, such as conservative views regarding abortion, and human sexuality, may or may not be called into question as well. Some schools, especially Western Buddhist ones, take more progressive stances regarding social issues.

Stop Porn Culture

Stop Porn Culture is an international feminist anti-porn organization with branches in the United States, Norway, and the United Kingdom. It works as an advisory body, trains trainers, and builds public health educational materials based on empirical research. It has a network of volunteers and activists and collaborates with other organizations in the U.S. and Europe. Some of its work is grassroots activist work.

Trolley problem

The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this:

You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track, and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track. You have two options:

Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.

Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.Which is the more ethical option?

The modern form of the problem was first introduced by Philippa Foot in 1967, but also extensively analysed by Judith Thomson, Frances Kamm, and Peter Unger. However an earlier version, in which the one person to be sacrificed on the track was the switchman's child, was part of a moral questionnaire given to undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin in 1905, and the German legal scholar Hans Welzel discussed a similar problem in 1951. In addition, a similar problem involving whether it is ethical to deflect a projectile from a larger crowd toward a smaller one, was discussed by Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz in his commentary on the Talmud, written and published well before his death in 1953.Beginning in 2001, the trolley problem and its variants have been used extensively in empirical research on moral psychology. Trolley problems have also been a topic of popular books. The problem often arises in the discussion of the ethics of the design of autonomous vehicles.

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