Empirical Data: Definition & Example

Empirical Data: Definition & Example
Coming up next: How to Construct Graphs from Data

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Empirical Data
  • 1:00 Scientific Method
  • 2:09 Types of Empirical Data
  • 3:17 The Importance of…
  • 3:58 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

In this lesson, we will explore how empirical data is defined. You will also learn about different types of empirical data and the role empirical data plays in the scientific process.

Empirical Data

You were wearing your favorite black sweater today when you noticed the white flakes on your shoulders. It's time to head to the store for some dandruff shampoo! Upon reaching the shampoo aisle, you notice many choices. You choose the bottle of dandruff shampoo that claims its effectiveness is proven by empirical data. Why would this shampoo be more likely to work?

We can answer this question by understanding what we mean by empirical data. Empirical implies that the information is based on experience, and data is information we gather about something. Thus the information acquired by scientists through experimentation and observation is called empirical data. Gathering empirical data is an essential part of the scientific process.

It looks like you did not simply chose a dandruff shampoo on a whim. You knew that if the shampoo's effectiveness was backed up by empirical data it had a proven track record of success.

Scientific Method

We mentioned that gathering empirical data is essential in science. So, where does empirical data fit into the scientific method? The scientific method involves observing a phenomenon, forming an idea about what you observed, testing your idea with an experiment to see if it is correct, recording the results of your experiment, and analyzing the results to arrive at a conclusion.

The result of the experiment is the empirical data. It is information that has been tested and found to be true. Any conclusion you reach is backed up by this evidence.

Let's think about your dandruff shampoo again as an example. Shampoo researchers observe that a need exists for a reliable dandruff shampoo. They come up with a shampoo formula they think will be an effective dandruff treatment. The researchers then test the shampoo on people with dandruff and find that it cures dandruff in 95 out of 100 people it is tested on within two weeks of use. The information found through research is the empirical data. In this case, empirical data can be used to say that the shampoo will work on 95% of all dandruff problems within two weeks.

Types of Empirical Data

Empirical data can be gathered through two types of research methods: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative data is data that can be categorized based on qualities like appearance, texture, or taste. This type of data involves descriptions and can be observed but not measured. In our dandruff shampoo experiment, the qualitative data would be categorizing the shampoo as successful or unsuccessful in treating each test subject's dandruff. Quantitative data is a measurement and will always be represented by a numerical value. It refers to measurable units such as liters, inches, or hours. The quantitative data in our shampoo experiment was the two weeks' time it took for the shampoo to cure a person's dandruff.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account