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BY 499 - Senior Seminar

Empirical Versus Non-empirical Research

Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief.

How do you know if a study is empirical? Read the subheadings within the article, book, or report and look for a description of the research "methodology." Ask yourself: Could I recreate this study and test these results?

Key characteristics to look for:

  • Specific research questions to be answered
  • Definition of the population, behavior, or phenomena being studied
  • Description of the process used to study this population or phenomena, including selection criteria, controls, and testing instruments (such as surveys)
  • Author(s) present a new set of findings from original research after conducting an original experiment
  • Firsthand collection of data

Another hint: some scholarly journals use a specific layout, called the "IMRaD" format, to communicate empirical research findings. Such articles typically have 4 components:

  • Introduction: sometimes called "literature review" -- what is currently known about the topic -- usually includes a theoretical framework and/or discussion of previous studies
  • Methodology: sometimes called "research design" -- how to recreate the study -- usually describes the population or variables to be researched, research process, and analytical tools
  • Results: sometimes called "findings" -- what was learned through the study -- usually appears as statistical data or as substantial quotations from research participants
  • Discussion: sometimes called "conclusion" or "implications" -- why the study is important -- usually describes how the research results influence professional practices or future studies

Here are some common characteristics of review articles:

  • Author(s) analyze and summarize existing research
  • Author(s) did NOT do original research. They are summarizing work of others.
  • Often focus on a general topic (such as breast cancer treatment) and bring together all relevant, useful articles on that topic in one review article.
  • Do not contain sections such as Methods (and Materials), Results because they did not do any original research!



Fermentation and quality of yellow pigments from golden brown rice solid culture by a selected Monascus mutant.