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The research paradigm – methodology, epistemology and ontology – explained in simple language

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❶Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods 2nd ed.

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You believe that knowledge is a social reality, value-laden and it only comes to light through individual interpretation? Are we part of that knowledge or are we external to it? Your view will frame your interaction with what you are researching and will depend on your ontological view.

Your approach, for example, will be objective if you see knowledge governed by the laws of nature or subjective if you see knowledge as something interpreted by individuals. This in turn affects your methodology. Methodology refers to how you go about finding out knowledge and carrying out your research.

It is your strategic approach, rather than your techniques and data analysis Wainright, Some examples of such methods are:. Now you may find it useful to read the Wikipedia articles and their related links on the following key words: In this exercise, match the following concepts to the following paradigms: Each paradigm can be used more than once.

Below are a few examples:. The next section considers why philosophy is important before asking you to consider your own research paradigms. Getting Started as a Researcher. The aim of post graduate research. Why is philosophy important? The scientific inquiry must focus on the study of multiple social realities, i. Find a ways to get individuals to reveal their constructions of social realities, including the person being studied and the researcher.

Generalization of case study findings must be made on a case-by-case basis. In other words, it is the reader who made the generalization based on his or her own interpretation: The focus is on the transferability instead of generalization. Data Collection and Design. The use of mathematics to represent and analyze features of social reality is consistent with positivist epistemology: The variables can be expressed as a numerical scales. Focuses on the study of individual cases and by making "thick" verbal descriptions of what they observe.

A mechanistic causality among social objects. Individuals' interpretation of situations cause them to take certain actions. Hence human beings are dehumanized without their intention, individualism and freedom taken into account in viewing and interpreting social reality. According to the critics of this paradigm, objectivity needs to be replaced by subjectivity in the process of scientific inquiry. This gave rise to anti-positivism or naturalistic inquiry.

Anti-positivism emphasizes that social reality is viewed and interpreted by the individual herself according to the ideological positions she possesses.

Therefore, knowledge is person all y experienced rather than acquired from or imposed from outside. The anti-positivists believe that reality is multi-layered and complex Cohen et al, and a single phenomenon is having multiple interpretations.

They emphasize that the verification of a phenomenon is adopted when the level of understanding of a phenomenon is such that the concern is to probe into the various unexplored dimensions of a phenomenon rather than establishing specific relationship among the components, as it happens in the case of positivism. Anti-positivism is marked by three schools of thought in the social science research.

These are phenomenology , ethnomethodology and symbolic interactionism. All the three schools of thought emphasise human interaction with phenomena in their daily lives, and suggest qualitative rather than quantitative approach to social inquiry.

It rules out any kind of objective external reality. Husserl and Schutz are the main proponents of this school of thought.

During interaction with various phenomena, human beings interpret them and attach meanings to different actions and or ideas and thereby construct new experiences. Therefore, the researcher has to develop empathic understanding to know the process of interpretation by individuals so that she can reproduce in her mind feelings, motives and thoughts that are behind the action of others.

It deals with the world of everyday life. According to enthomethodologists, theoretical concerns centres around the process by which common sense reality is constructed in everyday face-to-face interaction. They are mainly interested in the interpretation people use to make sense of social settings.

It basic all y emphasizes the understanding and interpretation of interactions that take place between human beings. Human interaction in the social world is mediated by the use of symbols like language, which help human beings to give meaning to objects. As a result, not only human beings change themselves through interaction, but also bring in change in societies. The two paradigms presented here are concerned with two concepts of social reality. While positivism stands for objectivity, measurability, predictability, controllability and constructs laws and rules of human behaviour, non-positivism essenti all y emphasizes understanding and interpretation of phenomena and making meaning out of this process.

Alongside the presence of these two major paradigms, another trend, which got developed during the post-sixties, gave rise to the third paradigm of research namely the Paradigm of Critical Theory. The main protagonist of this theory was Jurgen Habermas, who worked at the Frankfurt School in Germany to develop an approach of investigation and action in the social sciences, which could describe the historical forces that restrict human freedom and expose the ideological justification of those forces.

Critical theorists like Habermas were critical of the earlier paradigms as they were not tuned to question or transform the existing situation.


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Definition. A research paradigm is an approach or a research model to conducting a research that has been verified by the research community for long and that has been in practice for hundreds of years.

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The most quoted definition of paradigm is Thomas Kuhn's (, ) concept in The Nature of Science Revolution, i.e. paradigm as the underlying assumptions and intellectual structure upon which research and development in a field of inquiry is based. What is the difference between research paradigm and research approach? Can a research be: a qualitative research with post-positivistic paradigm and exploratory in nature? Research paradigm.

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A scientific paradigm is a framework containing all the commonly accepted views about a subject, conventions about what direction research should take . What is your paradigm? Time to spend on this section: hours Across disciplines (and within) there are varying views of what research is and how this relates to the kind of knowledge being developed.