Empirical research

Any research involving data as well as theory rather than purely exploring theory (conceptual research).

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This is still far too often assumed to be quantitative research: not so. Qualitative research is at least as important as quantitative and equally “empirical”. It is perhaps unfortunate that the idea of a “thought experiment” has been neglected in our field. (The German “Gedankenexperiment” can make it sound very formal and pomous, and a good thought experiment does deserve great respect!) Sadly, rather vague conceptual theorising (which is vital but weak without empirical exploration) is often treated as if it were careful “what if” conceptual or thought experimenting. However, that is generally not seen as empirical. Sadly, poor theorising going way beyond the empirical findings is as common the discussion sections of too many empirical therapy change papers as it is in therapy theory papers!

“Secondary” empirical research through all manner of systematising of literature reviewing has exploded over the last 20 years in our field and health care generally. Simulation work: primary research into data, but data which is entirely simulated out of formal models, remains very rare in our field.

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Systematic reviewing

Chapters #

Chapters 1 to 3 and 10.

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