Write an empirical work – valuable tips and tricks

June 25, 2019 0 Comments

Many aspiring academics want to be involved in research after graduation. In order to obtain deeper insights into these at the end of their studies, not a few students decide to take an empirical approach to the Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis.

An advantage of this approach lies in the fact that – in contrast to the literature work – you do not have to roll books for several weeks. Instead, you become active yourself. So far so good. But what do you have to consider if you want to do an empirical work? And how do you do this? The following article provides the answers! However, no claim is made for completeness. The topic is simply too comprehensive for that. It is therefore advisable to find out more about this form of final thesis before finally deciding on the empirical path!

An empirical work – what is that?

  • The word empirically derives from the Greek term empeiria. The direct translation is based on experience or experience. Based on this meaning, it becomes apparent that empirical work is primarily concerned with making statements about reality / reality. From these statements, theories are derived, which are checked for their validity using defined research methods (for a selection of methods, see above).
  • By the way: Empirical work is carried out in all scientific fields. They are mainly, but by no means exclusively, used in areas that seek to track down habits and prejudices. These areas of science include i.a. medicine, psychology, geography and ethnology.
  • This is how you develop an empirical work
  • Before you can deal with the actual study, you have to think about the following aspects:
  • What should be investigated?
  • Who is being investigated, that is: what is the field of research?
  • What is being researched (which possibilities do I have for the investigation)?
  • How is it investigated?

To answer these and other preliminary questions, a comprehensive literature search must be carried out. Only in this way can all the relevant information be collected, a hypothesis developed and the current state of research determined. In doing so, already completed studies and submitted bachelor theses can serve as inspiration.
Note: Most institutes of the universities provide a so-called guideline for term papers, papers, diploma theses and other theses. This is where aspiring academics can orient themselves when it comes to writing an empirical work.

How is research done?

As shown above, research methods play a significant role in the success of empirical work. But not every method is suitable for every purpose. Therefore, the student should consult with the supervisor, which type of investigation is suitable for the research question. Likewise, the framework conditions for collecting the data have to be clarified, ie which subjects are used, which rooms are available and which material can be used?

Do quantitative or qualitative research?

Before one can concretely decide on the methods of investigation, the first question is whether quantitative or qualitative research. The former is objective because it is focused on facts; Explanations should be identified. In contrast, qualitative methods are an interpretive approach that focuses on the subjective understanding of phenomena.

While quantitative work makes use of surveys, surveys and experiments, qualitative science uses interviews, surveys, etc. non-standardized data to evaluate.
Note: Qualitative and quantitative research differ in some aspects but are not mutually exclusive. In order to find the appropriate method for answering the question, you should also include pragmatic considerations (personal preferences, feasibility) in the selection.

Into the “field”!

Once the research question has been developed and the research methods selected, the data collection is done. This phase is called a field phase. However, before the study can be conducted, the survey tools must be tested: was enough time scheduled? And are all questions made sense? The more thorough the preparation of this phase, the more promising the results of the investigation will be.
Note: Each research method is characterized by specific requirements. These must be meticulously adhered to by the researcher. Only in this way can reliable, objective and at the same time valid results be achieved.

The collected information wants to be analyzed

If you have collected the data, the evaluation follows this. How to do this depends primarily on the question as well as on the hypotheses to be worked out. Thus, in the investigation of the relationship between two variables, so-called bivariate analysis methods (for example t-test) are used. However, multivariate methods of analysis (e.g., logistic regression) are used to study more than two variables.
Important: All steps, whether the decision qualitatively or quantitatively, the choice of the research method or even the analysis method, are justified in the context of the empirical work and explained in detail.

Put the empirical work on paper

Next follows the “trailer” of the work, i. the collected findings relevant to the research question must be presented. By discussing the data, an assignment or a refutation of the established hypotheses takes place.
During the writing process, the reader has to be guided through the examination step by step. The success of empirical work stands and falls with a meaningful structure:
Cover page (title of the work, name of the author, etc.)


Introduction: Here are the preliminary considerations, the question and the current state of research reproduced.
Body: Includes the presentation of the hypotheses, the selection of methods, and the reasons why subjects were interviewed for the study. Also in this section the results are presented, interpreted and discussed.
Content Analysis – Summary, Conclusion and Summary: What significance do the research findings have for the practice or an existing debate?

Mapping and Bibliography: Includes all secondary literature as well as diagrams, charts, tables etc.
Additional tip: In the written form, the empirical work does not differ from a theoretical work. In order to know the exact requirements, (regular) consultation with the supervisor should be held.

Writing an empirical paper is exhausting, but …

Finally, it should be noted that an empirical work means more effort than a theoretical one. This is mainly due to the need for (own) data collection. Despite this additional effort, however, it is a good exercise for the further career in research. If you talk regularly with the supervising professor, you also get enough help, so that not too much can go wrong.

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