Michael Wood

Anecdote, fiction, and statistics: The three poles of empirical methodology

This article clarifies the role and value of three types of evidence used in empirical research – anecdotes derived from case studies or small samples of data, fictions (including both thought experiments and works of art such as novels and plays) and statistics. The conclusion is that all three have an important part to play. Many conventional stereotypes are deeply unhelpful: contrary to the usual assumptions, science is often dependent on anecdote and fiction for exploring possibilities, qualitative research is often statistical in spirit, and social science is more likely to lead to useful conclusions about future possibilities if it draws on anecdotes and fictions.

Need a simple solution for managing your BibTeX entries? Explore CiteDrive!

  • Web-based, modern reference management
  • Collaborate and share with fellow researchers
  • Integration with Overleaf
  • Comprehensive BibTeX/BibLaTeX support
  • Save articles and websites directly from your browser
  • Search for new articles from a database of tens of millions of references
Try out CiteDrive

More from our Archive