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This Research Guide provides information about economics resources found in the CCCC libraries and linked databases.

What This Section is All About

Icon of a light bulbIn this section, you will find an overview of different research methods in economics. You will find links to tools and resources in the library related to the different types of research and writing.

Qualitative vs. Quantitative

Research in Economics is categorized into two general methods:

icon of a profileTheoretical Research

Theoretical research makes reasonable assumptions about a topic for which there is not very much reliable data.

Based on your knowledge of the relevant environment, people, and concepts, you can make predictions about what should “theoretically” happen if the event described by the research question came true.

Used to explain how something could happen or if something should happen.

Example: How would the restriction of F1 Student Visas affect economic growth in the United States over the next ten years?

icon of graphEmpirical Research

Empirical means based on observation.  Empirical research attempts to answer a research question by gathering data through observation or experiment.

Used to explain why or how something happens.
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Example: How does the shift to a four day work week affect production costs in manufacturing?

When to use them

Theoretical: when there is no clear data but you can make reasonable assumptions about behavior

Empirical: when data exists and is reliable, you can apply your own analysis to answer your question


Can you use both together? 

You can develop a theoretical model to predict an outcome, then gather and analyze data to test that prediction!