What Is Empirical Research Approach in PhD Dissertation?

Empirical Research Approach


  A PhD dissertation is a document that uses various research approaches. The usage of such different approaches depends pretty much on the type of research. The empirical research approach is one of those approaches that researchers use in a PhD dissertation. Often, the researchers use only the observation method to conclude the dissertation topics. This observational study is called empirical research approach. Today’s topic is all about this approach and its examples. There will be a mention of its characteristics as well later in the topic. Before we further describe this research approach, let’s begin with its definition.

What is an empirical approach in research?

The empirical research approach uses fact-based data to conduct a study. The researchers, upon collection of the data, analyse it and draw a conclusion. Most of the data in this research approach relates to a primary form of data. The investigator himself collects all the data and processes it to convert it into useful information.

This research approach is either used to support a theory or contradict it. Based on the theoretical underpinnings, the researcher conducts real-life experiments. The results of those experiments either support the base theory or contradict it. Hence, this is the empirical approach in research where you only observe different things and collect data. You can get help from PhD dissertation writing services in case of any issue.

What is empirical research with examples?

            In empirical research, the researcher draws a conclusion based on strong evidence. The strong evidence comes from extensive experimentation and observation. The researchers of sociology and psychology mostly perform this type of research. Also, an empirical research approach is best suited for them. The data collection methods can either be quantitative or qualitative. But the data is all primary. The core thing is that the data should be evidence-based, not edited or forged.


An example of empirical research can be finding out whether listening to positive music develops pro-social behaviour or not. To find this out, the researcher conducts an experiment. He splits the audience into two groups. The researcher then exposes one group to positive music. The other group is not exposed to any kind of music. After this activity, the researcher evaluates the results. He concludes whether listening to happy music develops pro-social behaviour or not.

See, this is a fact-based study. The researcher has conducted a whole experiment to study the theory and concluded it with evidence. So, this is one perfect example of the empirical research approach.

Why is an empirical approach important?

            The empirical approach to research has become important in today’s world. People now believe only what they see, hear and experience. Empirical research gives people a chance to do real-life evidence-based research. The empirical research approach is also important because it allows the researchers to validate multiple hypotheses and theories. It increases human knowledge by conducting authentic evidence-based research.

            This type of research is also important because it develops relevant analytical skills. Those skills can be helpful in producing valuable dissertations. It also enhances observational skills and accelerates more dynamic research. The research variables can be a problem at times in the PhD dissertations. The empirical research approach allows the researchers to control multiple variables. This enhanced control lets the investigators conclude the topic effectively. 

What are the characteristics of empirical research?

The empirical research approach has some characteristics like every research. A brief description of the major characteristics is as follows;

1.      Use research questions

Research questions are an important element of any research. They tell about the research context and primary goals of the research. Likewise, empirical research has also some pre-defined questions, and the researcher has to follow them. These questions are often derived from the problem that the researchers are trying to solve. After having research questions, the researcher uses any research method to analyse them. Two of the most common research methods are qualitative and quantitative research methods. The researchers use either of them depending on the demand of the PhD dissertation.

2.      Contain clearly defined variables

Having clear and defined variables diminish many problems. The research variables often affect the research results a lot. The empirical research approach uses some concrete variables that are limited to the only research context. This is why their handling is very easy.

Empirical research, like any other research, has two kinds of variables. One is independent, and the other is the dependent variable. The dependent variable changes with changes in the independent ones. The independent variables do not get changed due to anything unless the researcher himself changes them. So, the main thing here is that the empirical research contains clearly defined variables.

3.      Provide methods used

The next characteristic of empirical research is that it provides an explanation of all the methods used. This information allows the readers to evaluate the research for accuracy and reliability. The researcher can also provide the outline of the research methods that he is going to apply in the future. This outline can include testing instruments or supplemental data.

When providing the details of the methods, it is also important to provide an explanation of the procedures. The procedures make it clear how the particular test is going to be performed.

4.      Follow the research outline

Another characteristic of the empirical research approach is that it follows the research outline. It follows a very distinct research format. Its format includes an introduction, methods and methodology, results and discussion (IMRaD). This particular format increases the readability and facilitates peer-review of the PhD dissertation.

  • Introduction: This section describes the background of the empirical research. It also explains why there is a need to do this.
  • Methodology: This chapter includes an explanation of all the methods used in the research.
  • Results: There will be a list of the experimental results and outcomes.
  • Discussion: This section concludes the research topic by discussing the results in relation to the research questions.


The empirical research approach is essential in making provable and evidence-based arguments. The pieces of evidence in the research leaves no room for misinterpretation of the information.

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