How to Write an Empirical Research Paper

Empirical research papers attempt to simultaneously respond to and propel current research in a given discipline. Consequently, the structure of an empirical research paper reflects this attempt to both contextualize the goals of the research in contemporary reports and theory and point out how those reports and theories can be expanded. Writing an empirical research paper requires you to format your paper in a way that first reflects contemporary research, details your analysis methods and finally points out the findings of your research.

State and explain the problem or unanswered questions that prompted your empirical research. You should contextualize the problem in contemporary research, demonstrating how your empirical research will confirm, deny or otherwise respond to conclusions drawn by other researchers in your field. For example, oftentimes researchers generate additional questions while researching that are outside of the purview of their individual research. They often highlight these unanswered questions, which future researchers then attempt to respond to in their own future research.

Describe and analyze the research methods and existing theory you will employ over the course of your research. You can either use methods and theories other researchers have employed in prior research (as discussed in your contextualization), or you can introduce new methods and theories or methods and theories not previously employed in your field. For example, in a physics empirical report you might attempt to analyze small projectiles using Einsteinian mechanics, even though small projectiles are typically analyzed using Newtonian mechanics.

Present and analyze all the data you collected during the course of your research. Empirical research focuses on data gathered with the senses or data that can be confirmed with the senses. Data analysis involves identifying and describing trends in data that could potentially indicate natural laws or principles. For example, if you've noticed that 90 percent of respondents to a survey prefer chocolate to vanilla, you might conclude that that percentage holds true for the larger population.

Summarize your report. Begin your concluding summary by redescribing the problem that prompted your research. Follow the description of the problem with a brief description of your research methods. Conclude your summary with a re-presentation of the important components of your collected data as well as the major points of your data analysis.