Using Academic Research

What is ‘empirical’ scientific research – and why use it?

The findings of scientific research often show something that was previously well-known through experience; but their value lies in collecting data using the scientific method. This involves testing specific hypotheses (propositions or theories) by collecting information in a controlled manner. Two main principles characterise this method: objectivity and reproducibility. Objectivity refers to the fact that measurements and the sample of participants must be taken in the most unbiased way possible. Reproducibility simply means that the research can be reproduced by other researchers. These two features reduce biases, allowing one to make more reliable conclusions. Because the scientific method takes such precautions to guard against biases, it gives empirical research findings greater value in a court of law, as they can be reasonably expected to hold true. Because of the weight of emphasis on credibility in the asylum process, this is particularly important. What this means is that you may find that the results of CSEL’s research do not surprise you or your colleagues. However, the research findings are useful not only in what they reveal, but in their reliability, and, having been published in peer-reviewed academic journals, their credibility.


A really useful site showing how to cite any work in the Harvard system (we use this in our recommended citations for each of our papers):