Conceptual vs. Empirical Research

Conceptual research is that related to some abstract idea(s) or theory. It is generally used by philosophers and thinkers to develop new concepts or to reinterpret existing ones. On the other hand, empirical research relies on experience or involves observation alone, often without due regard for system and theory. It is a data-based research, with analyses coming up with conclusions, which are capable of being verified by observation or experiment. We can also call it as ‘experimental type of research. In such a research it is necessary to get at facts at the firsthand, at their source, and actively to go about doing certain things to usually stimulate the production of the desired information. In such a research, the researcher must first provide himself with a working hypothesis or guess as to the probable results. He then works to get enough facts (data) to prove or disprove his hypothesis. He then sets up his experimental designs, which he thinks will manipulate the persons or the materials concerned so as to bring forth the desired information. Such research is thus, characterized by the experimenter’s control over the variables under study and his deliberate manipulation of one of them to study its effects. Empirical research is appropriate when proof is sought that certain variables affect other variables in some way. Evidence gathered through experiments or empirical studies is today considered to be the most powerful support possible for a given hypothesis.

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Exploratory research

Exploratory research usually provides qualitative data. Exploratory research provides greater understanding of a concept or crystallizes a problem rather than providing precise measurement. The focus of such qualitative research is not on numbers but on words on observations: stories, visual portrayals, meaningful characterizations, interpretations and other expressive descriptions. Exploratory research may be single research investigation or a series of informal studies intend to provide background information.

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