An empirical research paper is a well-written paper based on observations and analysis to generate knowledge. To know how to write an empirical research paper and its structure is an important part of writing a paper, which we will explain below.
Empirical papers can be written about humans, animals, or other natural phenomena. The paper might be quantitative (based on numerical data establishing a relation between variables A and B) or qualitative (based on feelings, emotions, and beliefs)
It is better to choose to write your paper in hourglass structure as in this structure the introduction begins broadly defining the topic, previous research, and hypothesis. It then narrows down as it focuses specifically on methods and the findings of the research. Then as you discuss the finding of the paper, the discussion again starts to broaden forming the structure of an hourglass.
The Steps of Writing an Empirical Paper
Step 01: Introduction
The introduction of an empirical paper is as important as any other academic paper; it is the part where you introduce the readers to your research question and the answer to that question. It is necessary that keep the reader in mind while writing the paper how I can make the readers understand the research in the easiest way possible.
Unlike other papers, you do not tell the readers about the main goals of the paper in the introduction, in fact, you only introduce your hypothesis in the last paragraph of the introduction.
Your introduction must include the sections below:
- Introduce the topic by illustrating the problem or the question, which should at least be one paragraph.
- Provide relevant background to your topic by providing social, theoretical, or field-related information about the research. This can be one to two paragraphs.
- Review past research discussing the themes of this past paper, the purpose of this literature review is to only provide a clear picture of your research. It should be two or more paragraphs.
- The hypothesis should be introduced in the last paragraph of the introduction stating the current purpose of the study.
Step 02: Method
The method section comes after the hypothesis of the research to let the reader know what you did, providing the readers with information about the data collection, analysis, and procedures. This section shows the validity of the research, what the researcher intended to do and the procedures research took place.
The heading in the method section might differ according to the paper or the research however; every method section should include the three headings participants, materials, and procedure.
As you write the method section, you should remember to include:
- The research design should answer the questions such as; was this method experimental, observational, or mixed methods? Is the method approved? Why did you consider the particular method to answer the research questions?
- The approval of your research by a governing board and the number they assigned your research.
- The participants: This part of the method section should include the information about the participants recruited in the study if they volunteered or got some sort of credit for participating in the research, the number of participants, their demographic characteristics ( age, education level, sex, and race, etc.) and if they were aware of the research purpose.
- The Materials: The questionnaires, surveys, or scales in the material should be described, how many questions does the questionnaire or the scale include, did you make them yourself if not cite it, who manage the material and where was it managed, what was the theme and what type of questions were asked.
- Procedure: what type of experiments did you run or did you use any clinical interference. How many participants were there, where they divided into groups, and if so on which bases they were divided into groups, where the experiment was conducted, how long the experiments took, what apparatus was used, and their settings.
Step 03: Results
The result section will tell the readers about the data and data analysis, it will also tell them about the research you conducted and what you found. Some fields put the data analysis at the end of the method section if you do so then no need to repeat it in the results.
- Data collection and analysis: You must include how was the data collected in the forms of video, audio, or notes, who collected the data and how long did it take, were there intervals in the data collection. Also if the data was transformed in any other forms (from video to transcript), which software was used in the procedure of data collection, if they missed any data and how they approached it.
- Findings: You should organize the findings of the research in a way that is effective and easy to understand for the readers, following the APA Publication manual. It is important that every finding should be supported by evidence, remember Qualitative research should be explained by themes or categories and Quantitative research should be explained by research questions or statistical tests.
In addition to these, charts or graphs should also explain the findings. Also, remember not to use statistics where they can be explained by words.
Step 04: Discussion
The discussion section of the research should be considered as important as the introduction of the research. It should include a summary of the findings, limitations, and future directions of the research.
One of the most common mistakes done while writing the discussion section is to use the same outline for the structure of the content and as well the discussion, discussion section should be considered a separate task as all of the above were considered.
Here you should focus on making context convenient for the readers, you should include the summary of the topic and the research question, the findings, and if the findings were compatible with the hypothesis. Then include the previous research related to your research if any. Also, make sure that you don’t state your research as the final report. Here are some elements you should keep in mind while writing the discussion.
- Dwell on the key findings: Concisely emphasize the key findings of your research and the benefaction of your research to the state of knowledge about the topic.
- Connect the research: Relate the findings of the research to any previous research, stating if the findings of the research support or challenge the previous research, and mention the similarities or differences between the research.
- Discuss the results: Discuss the results of the research letting the readers know if the results added to your knowledge or unexpected findings research.
- Limitations: The limitations should include information about any error in data collection or analysis and how it might have affected the research and other measures you were not able to take which could have added to your paper.
- Implications for practice: You should explain the implications of the results for professionals or practitioners and any barriers that might limit them from practicing the results.
- Conclusion: conclude the research by stating the importance of your findings, who might be benefited from these findings, the question answered by this research, and questions that rose due to it. In addition, the nest researchers should fill the unanswered questions and gaps.