Scientific knowledge obtained by observation and experimentation is termed empirical data. The collection of empirical data is a crucial step in the scientific method.
Since Emile Durkheim, there has been a significant historical tradition in the sociology of employing empirical evidence to analyze social reform. Based on actual data on rates of suicide across Europe in the latter half of the nineteenth century, Durkheim published ‘Suicide’ in 1897.
Theories of the middle range are interpretations established by Merton based on facts from particular sectors of social life.