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The research paradigm — methodology, epistemology and ontology — explained in simple language July 15, CommentsViews I have put together this post to explain what a research paradigm is, which includes ontology, epistemology, theoretical framework and methodology, and why it is important for your research or PhD.
It took me a while to understand this properly, and below is a summary of my understanding of the topic, which I hope will help you. I suggest you go easy on yourself I was pulling my hair out on the second day.
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I would also love to be corrected if anything below is wrong though as you are aware, there are so many disagreements amongst philosophers and epistemologists — there is no one right answer!
The diagram below explains the above terms and the relationship between them: I would now recommend you watch this video which explains the above in very simple terms, and explains the two major paradigms: Why is it important?
Awareness of philosophical assumptions will increase quality of research and can contribute to the creativity of the researcher. Furthermore, you will be asked about it in your viva and are expected to narrate it when you write up your research findings.
Which research paradigm does my research belong to? In really simple terms, the three most common paradigms are explained below and are shown in this epistemology diagram too, taken from here: Positivists believe that there is a single reality, which can be measured and known, and therefore they are more likely to use quantitative methods to measure and this reality.
Constructivists believe that there is no single reality or truth, and therefore reality needs to be interpreted, and therefore they are more likely to use qualitative methods to get those multiple realities.
Pragmatists believe that reality is constantly renegotiated, debated, interpreted, and therefore the best method to use is the one that solves the problem The table below which I created gives a more detailed overview of each paradigm and contains subjectivism and critical tooand your own research paradigm could very well sit in between one of the paradigms.
You could use a top down or a bottom up approach Rebecca explains here to decide where your research sits.
In reality, I believe its probably neither strictly a top down or bottom up approach, you probably go back and forth till you find the right fit. I believe each research project would have a different research paradigm and hence a different theoretical perspective.
Table adapted from various sources, including Crotty But the assumptions underlying every piece of research are both ontological and epistemological. Where does most social science research sit?
According to Eddieand quoting directly, most social science sits into the following: Experimental Positivistwith a more realist ontology i. Postmodernist constructivism, with a less realist ontology i.
A more traditional experimental quantitative approach, which sees social reality as a set of facts to be known for all time by measuring people in the laboratory; 2. A more critical, discursive qualitative approach, which sees social reality as mutually constructed between people in the real world.
What impact will my chosen paradigm have on my research? It will have a huge impact. Let me give you an example of an interview based research that is constructivist: Useful reading and references Texts I found useful: Foundations of social research: Meaning and Perspective in the Research Process.
Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms.
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