How to locate an empirical research article

timer Asked: Jul 1st, 2018
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Question description

For this Assignment,

  • Locate an empirical research article that is either a quantitative or qualitative study from a peer reviewed social work journal for the final assignment.
    • Do not select an empirical research article that describes a mixed methods study. The reason is because a mixed method study involves both a quantitative and qualitative component. You would have to do two reviews – one for the quantitative component and one for the qualitative component -- for the final assignment.
  • Upload the article. Your instructor will review the article to make sure it is an empirical research article and will approve it for your use for the final assignment

Tutor Answer

School: Rice University

Thank you for working with me attached is the empirical research article

Wangmo and Provoost BMC Medical Ethics (2017) 18:79
DOI 10.1186/s12910-017-0239-0


Open Access

The use of empirical research in bioethics:
a survey of researchers in twelve European
Tenzin Wangmo1*

and Veerle Provoost2

Background: The use of empirical research methods in bioethics has been increasing in the last decades. It has
resulted in discussions about the ‘empirical turn of bioethics’ and raised questions related to the value of empirical
work for this field, methodological questions about its quality and rigor, and how this integration of the normative
and the empirical can be achieved. The aim of this paper is to describe the attitudes of bioethics researchers in this
field towards the use of empirical research, and examine their actual conduct: whether they use empirical research
methods (and if so, what methods), and whether (and how) they have made attempts at integrating the empirical
and the normative.
Methods: An anonymous online survey was conducted to reach scholars working in bioethics/biomedical ethics/
ethics institutes or centers in 12 European countries. A total of 225 bioethics researchers participated in the study.
Of those, 200 questionnaires were fully completed, representing a response rate of 42.6%. The results were analysed
using descriptive statistics.
Results: Most respondents (n = 175; 87.5%) indicated that they use or have used empirical methods in their work.
A similar proportion of respondents (61.0% and 59.0%) reported having had at least some training in qualitative or
quantitative methods, respectively. Among the ‘empirical researchers’, more than a fifth (22.9%) had not received
any methodological training. It appears that only 6% or less of the ‘empirical researchers’ considered themselves
experts in the methods (qualitative or quantitative) that they have used. Only 35% of the scholars who have used
empirical methods reported having integrated empirical data with normative analysis, whereas for their current
projects, 59.8% plan to do so.
Conclusions: There is a need to evaluate the current educational programs in bioethics and to implement rigorous
training in empirical research methods to ensure that ‘empirical researchers’ have the necessary skills to conduct
their empirical research in bioethics. Also imperative is clear guidance on the integration of the normative and the
empirical so that researchers who plan to do so have necessary tools and competences to fulfil their goals.
Keywords: Empirical bioethics, Empirical research, Bioethics, Qualitative research, Quantitative research

* Correspondence:
Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
© The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to
the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver
( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Wangmo and Provoost BMC Medical Ethics (2017) 18:79

The use of empirical research in bioethics, broadly defined
as the use of qualitative and/or quantitative research
methods from the social sciences, has increased in the last
few decades. Sugarman and colleagues [1] reported that
8% of the papers published between 1980 and 1984 used
empirical methods and the proportion of empirical biomedical ethics publications in bioethics has increased to
16% in 2000–2005. Another study that captured the
prevalence of empirical research in nine biomedical ethics
journals concluded that the use of empirical research had
increased from 5.4% in 1990 to 15.3% in 2003 [2]. This
trend of increasing empirical work in bioethics is also
evident with the emergence of journals devoted to
publishing empirical studies in bioethics, such as AJOB
Empirical Bioethics and Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics: A
Journal of Qualitative Research. Newer journals like the
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry (since 2004), BMC Medical
Ethics (since 2000), and Developing World Bioethics
(since 2001) are also embracing empirical work carried
out in this field.
The empirical trend in bioethics has resulted in (at least)
two kinds of debates: (a) whether the empirical trend is
necessary and valuable; and (b) how the empirical data
and normative ethics could (or should) be integrated.
Several scholars have discussed how empirical findings
can be combined with ethical norms [3–10]. Davies and
colleagues [11] noted 32 distinct methodologies of empirical ethics highlighting the many ways of integrating the
normative and the empirical. Such integration raises many
questions since among other things, the diverse normative
ethics viewpoints may result in different interpretations of
the same empirical results [12, 13].
Although the value of empirical studies to the field of
medical and clinical ethics have been highlighted [14,
15], doubts are raised about the quality of bioethics
studies for which empirical research methods are used
[16–18]. Specifically, scholars have underlined that
these normative empirical integration must comply
with two quality standards: the standards of a normative
conceptual analysis and the epistemological standards of
the parent discipline whose empirical methodology was
used [16, 19].
In light of the lack of data about who uses empirical
research methods in bioethics (and what methods are
used) as well as the lack of clarity as to how the empirical and the normative is or can best be merged
(due to the availability of several methods and their
novel characteristics) [5–7, 20–23], we designed this
study. Its aims are twofold: 1) to explore the attitudes
of researchers in bioethics towards the use empirical
research, and 2) to examine their actual empirical research conduct: whether they use empirical methods,
if so, what methods they employ and what, if any,

Page 2 of 11

training they have had; and whether as well as how
they have attempted to integrate the normative and
the empirical. This study is thus a first attempt to
provide a description of bioethics scholars’ empirical
research conduct, the methods that they use, how they
assess their methodological competencies, as well as
their views about the use of empirical research in this

Selection of study participants

Using our network of experts and scholars working in
the field of biomedical ethics and bioethics on the continent, we compiled a comprehensive list of 38 European
bioethics institutes1 from 13 countries. We amended our
list by adding members of the European Association of
Centres of Medical Ethics (EACME) and the European
Society for Philosophy of Medicine and Healthcare
(ESPMH). Twenty-five institutes were added from 12
countries using the EACME list (7 countries were not
previously represented), and one institute was added
using the ESPMH list. In total, we identified 64 relevant
bioethics institutes across 20 European countries. For
each of the institutes on our list, we searched for the
email addresses of their members. We included all
countries for which contact information of members
could be obtained in more than half of the centers
identified in the particular country. This resulted in the
inclusion of 12 countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany,
Ireland, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania,
Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom. The
study’s individual participants included all researchers
working in bioethics institutes (listed on the institutes’
official websites or obtained via our expert networks) in
the 12 countries selected above. Additional file 1 summarizes our sampling method.

We constructed a questionnaire including three thematic
sections: (a) respondents’ attitudes and views about empirical research in bioethics; (b) their use of empirical
methods in bioethics and if never used, willingness/
intention to use empirical methods in the future, and (c)
general questions related to the (types of) empirical
methods used in the past, specific questions related to the
(types of) empirical methods planned for a current project, as well as the training in empirical research methods
the researcher had. The last part also included questions
about the integration of the empirical and the normative
to find out if (and how) the respondents have made attempts to do so. The questionnaire concluded with a
socio-demographic section. Survey logic was applied to
automatically filter questions based on the participant responses to ensure all questions were relevant. The survey

Wangmo and Provoost BMC Medical Ethics (2017) 18:79

completion time was expected to be between 10 and
20 min. No incentives were provided for participation. For
more details, we refer the readers to Additional file 2, the
survey in its entirety along with the survey logic.
The survey and the cover letter were pilot tested with
10 researchers located in the EU and North America
who were not part of the targeted sample of the survey.
They ranged from recent graduates to experts in the
field to mimic the characteristics of the study participants. The goal of the piloting was to test both the content (including wording of the questions) and the
structure of the questionnaire (including efficiency of
the layout). The responses of the piloting were positive.
Only small changes were made to the wording of a few
questions and one open-ended question was added.
Data collection

A request to participate in the survey was sent via personalized email to all researchers listed as a faculty
member, post-doc, research assistant, or PhD student on
the websites of the bioethics institutes in the 12 countries. A total of 469 scholars from 35 bioethics institutes
received a link to the online survey (using Qualtrics)
during the first week of January 2017. The email introduced each potential participant to the study, explaining
briefly that they were identified as eligible participants,
informing them about the researchers, the study’s significance, and its anonymous nature. A reminder to
complete the survey was sent during the third week of
January 2017, followed by a final reminder at the end of
January 2017. A final note of appreciation and conclusion of the survey was sent to all potential participants
in February 2017.
Response rate

A total of 225 participants took part in the survey. This
accounts for an actual response rate of 47.9%. Incomplete
surveys (25) were excluded, leaving 200 fully completed
questionnaires for analysis. The final response rate for the
study was 42.6%.
Data analysis

Respondents’ data recorded through Qualtrics was
exported to a data file compatible with Statistical Package of the Social Sciences, IBM SPSS.22. Responses to
Likert-type scales (totally agree, agree, neut...

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