Based on the purpose and available resources, researchers conduct empirical or non-empirical research. Researchers employ both of these methods in various fields using qualitative, quantitative, or secondary data. Let's look at the characteristics of empirical research and see how it is different from non-empirical research.


Historical research is a process of collecting and interpreting data about past events or ideas in order to find how they affected the present events and ideas. It studies possible reasons behind certain events to explain their influence on the events that followed. Historical research may not just help to figure out connections between past and present events, it can also provide the researchers with information regarding possible future events. In his book “Historical Research: A Guide” (2002), W.H.McDowell defines historical research as:


Depending on the purpose and goals of the research, researchers carry out basic research or applied research. Basic research, sometimes called pure research or fundamental research, aims to prove or expand theories regarding the phenomenon. In contrast, applied research uses scientific knowledge available such as technologies or techniques, to achieve a result on the study. It is a practical application of science. Pure research seeks answers to theoretical problems. Applied research, at the other end of the spectrum, tries to solve practical issues.


Meta-analysis is a statistical analysis that combines multiple similar or related studies and makes connections between them. In other words, it is a process that integrates different research results.  According to the Mariam-Webster dictionary,

“Meta-analysis is a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance.”


Practitioner research, also called practitioner action research, is a type of research where the researcher who is conducting the study is also a practitioner in the field. In other words, the researcher works in the area the research carried out. For instance, they can be teachers, social workers, and medical workers whose job requires occasional research.  Jean McNiff, together with Jack Whitehead, defines the practitioner research in his book “Action Research: Principles and Practice” (2002, second edition) as follows:


Research is a process of collecting data and analyzing it to reach a conclusion on a specific subject.  The research methods and practices are in constant development and change with the subject matter. In order to evaluate and improve the research methods and the process as a whole, researchers use meta-science, also called meta-research. It is a study of science itself, “research on research.” It seeks the reasons why specific research projects fail and offers solutions to overcome those obstacles.


Research design is a plan of how to conduct research. It includes defining research subject, questions, theories, methods, techniques, data collection methods, data analysis, report and distribution channels for the report. Designing research allows researchers to act according to the plans and finish the project in time. It guides the researchers through the entire research process and tells them what you need to give attention to and what is unnecessary for the research.


Grounded theory is a research methodology used mostly in qualitative research. Researchers using some other research methods build a theory about the research topic and then study the phenomenon and test the theory, whereas, in this method, a theory is developed directly from the data. According to the originators of the grounded theory, Glaser and Strauss (1967):

The aim of grounded theory is ‘’to generate or discover a theory.’’