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Three Philosophical Research Paradigms

Decent Essays
In the world of research, for any research study to be deemed valid and successful, there are certain underlying philosophical assumptions and paradigms that should be considered. A researcher needs to know what the research assumptions and paradigms are in order to know what role they play in research design and the knowledge created.

This essay will explore the three main philosophical research paradigms: Positivism, Interpretive and the Critical paradigm. In the first section of the essay, the epistemological, ontological, methodological underpinnings and their implication for research will be outlined and discussed. The second section will look at a practical research example incorporating the interpretive paradigm. Finally, an overall observation will be made of the three paradigms.

What is a paradigm?
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It is evident from the definition above that paradigms guide how research problems are understood and addressed by researchers. Patton (as cited by Chilisa & Kawulich 2012:1) argues that ontology relates to whether we believe there is one verifiable reality or whether there are multiple, socially constructed realities. Epistemology concentrates on how we as individuals know what we know? It questions the nature of knowledge, truth and reliability of the knowledge. Methodology concentrates on the procedures and approaches we use to acquire knowledge. Therefore every paradigm fundamentally has its own ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions which help to determine the assumptions and beliefs that frame a researcher’s view of a research problem and how he/she will go about investigating it and what methods he/she will explore to answer the research
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