The following quote is one of my favorite quotes regarding the right way to conduct Software Engineering (SE) research. It summarizes the importance of utilizing empirical methods to inspire and guide the development of new SE tools and techniques:
“In all fields of SE, empirical methods should enable the development of scientific knowledge about how useful different SE technologies are, for different kinds of actors, performing different kinds of activities, on different kinds of systems. Such scientific knowledge should guide the development of new SE technology and be a major input to important SE decisions in industry and services.”
– Dag I. K. Sjoberg, Tore Dyba, Magne Jorgensen. The future of empirical methods in software engineering research. In Proc. of ICSE 2007, Future of Soft. Eng. (FOSE ’07), pages 358-378, 2007.
This quote is five years old but is still relevant today. One only needs to look at the proceedings of any recently held SE conference (e.g., ICSE 2012) to see the importance that is placed on empirical methods. In research there is no substitute for sound empirical results and one should always avoid shortcuts that downplay the importance of empirical research methods.