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

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❶Finally, someone who can explain all the jargon simply.




The purpose of paradeigma is to provide an audience with an illustration of similar occurrences. This illustration is not meant to take the audience to a conclusion, however it is used to help guide them there.

One analogy of how a paradeigma is meant to guide an audience would be a personal accountant. It is not the job of a personal accountant to tell their client exactly what and what not to spend their money on, but to aid in guiding their client as to how money should be spent based on their financial goals. Anaximenes defined paradeigma as "actions that have occurred previously and are similar to, or the opposite of, those which we are now discussing.

In linguistics , Ferdinand de Saussure used paradigm to refer to a class of elements with similarities. The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines this usage as "a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly: Kuhn suggests that certain scientific works, such as Newton's Principia or John Dalton's New System of Chemical Philosophy , provide an open-ended resource: Normal science proceeds within such a framework or paradigm.

A paradigm does not impose a rigid or mechanical approach, but can be taken more or less creatively and flexibly. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a paradigm as "a typical example or pattern of something; a pattern or model". In his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions first published in , Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as: In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Kuhn saw the sciences as going through alternating periods of normal science , when an existing model of reality dominates a protracted period of puzzle-solving, and revolution , when the model of reality itself undergoes sudden drastic change.

Paradigms have two aspects. Firstly, within normal science, the term refers to the set of exemplary experiments that are likely to be copied or emulated. Secondly, underpinning this set of exemplars are shared preconceptions, made prior to — and conditioning — the collection of evidence.

Kuhn was at pains to point out that the rationale for the choice of exemplars is a specific way of viewing reality: For well-integrated members of a particular discipline, its paradigm is so convincing that it normally renders even the possibility of alternatives unconvincing and counter-intuitive. Such a paradigm is opaque , appearing to be a direct view of the bedrock of reality itself, and obscuring the possibility that there might be other, alternative imageries hidden behind it.

The conviction that the current paradigm is reality tends to disqualify evidence that might undermine the paradigm itself; this in turn leads to a build-up of unreconciled anomalies. It is the latter that is responsible for the eventual revolutionary overthrow of the incumbent paradigm, and its replacement by a new one. Kuhn used the expression paradigm shift see below for this process, and likened it to the perceptual change that occurs when our interpretation of an ambiguous image "flips over" from one state to another.

This is significant in relation to the issue of incommensurability see below. An example of a currently accepted paradigm would be the standard model of physics. The scientific method allows for orthodox scientific investigations into phenomena that might contradict or disprove the standard model; however grant funding would be proportionately more difficult to obtain for such experiments, depending on the degree of deviation from the accepted standard model theory the experiment would test for.

To illustrate the point, an experiment to test for the mass of neutrinos or the decay of protons small departures from the model is more likely to receive money than experiments that look for the violation of the conservation of momentum, or ways to engineer reverse time travel.

Mechanisms similar to the original Kuhnian paradigm have been invoked in various disciplines other than the philosophy of science. They have somewhat similar meanings that apply to smaller and larger scale examples of disciplined thought. In addition, Michel Foucault used the terms episteme and discourse , mathesis and taxinomia , for aspects of a "paradigm" in Kuhn's original sense.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Kuhn wrote that "the successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science" p. Paradigm shifts tend to appear in response to the accumulation of critical anomalies as well as the proposal of a new theory with the power to encompass both older relevant data and explain relevant anomalies.

New paradigms tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, a statement generally attributed to physicist Lord Kelvin famously claimed, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.

In this case, the new paradigm reduces the old to a special case in the sense that Newtonian mechanics is still a good model for approximation for speeds that are slow compared to the speed of light. Many philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it.

Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited [ citation needed ]. Kuhn's idea was, itself, revolutionary in its time.

It caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science; and, so, it may be that it caused or was part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognize such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science. Perhaps the greatest barrier to a paradigm shift, in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis: Examples include rejection of Aristarchus of Samos' , Copernicus ', and Galileo 's theory of a heliocentric solar system, the discovery of electrostatic photography , xerography and the quartz clock.

Kuhn pointed out that it could be difficult to assess whether a particular paradigm shift had actually led to progress, in the sense of explaining more facts, explaining more important facts, or providing better explanations, because the understanding of "more important", "better", etc. The two versions of reality are thus incommensurable. Kuhn's version of incommensurability has an important psychological dimension; this is apparent from his analogy between a paradigm shift and the flip-over involved in some optical illusions.

He suggested that it was impossible to make the comparison needed to judge which body of knowledge was better or more advanced. However, this change in research style and paradigm eventually after more than a century led to a theory of atomic structure that accounts well for the bulk properties of matter; see, for example, Brady's General Chemistry. This apparent ability does not guarantee that the account is veridical at any one time, of course, and most modern philosophers of science are fallibilists.

However, members of other disciplines do see the issue of incommensurability as a much greater obstacle to evaluations of "progress"; see, for example, Martin Slattery's Key Ideas in Sociology. Opaque Kuhnian paradigms and paradigm shifts do exist. A few years after the discovery of the mirror-neurons that provide a hard-wired basis for the human capacity for empathy, the scientists involved were unable to identify the incidents that had directed their attention to the issue.

Over the course of the investigation, their language and metaphors had changed so that they themselves could no longer interpret all of their own earlier laboratory notes and records. However, many instances exist in which change in a discipline's core model of reality has happened in a more evolutionary manner, with individual scientists exploring the usefulness of alternatives in a way that would not be possible if they were constrained by a paradigm. Imre Lakatos suggested as an alternative to Kuhn's formulation that scientists actually work within research programmes.

This set of priorities, and the associated set of preferred techniques, is the positive heuristic of a programme. Each programme also has a negative heuristic ; this consists of a set of fundamental assumptions that — temporarily, at least — takes priority over observational evidence when the two appear to conflict. This latter aspect of research programmes is inherited from Kuhn's work on paradigms, [ citation needed ] and represents an important departure from the elementary account of how science works.

According to this, science proceeds through repeated cycles of observation, induction, hypothesis-testing, etc. Paradigms and research programmes allow anomalies to be set aside, where there is reason to believe that they arise from incomplete knowledge about either the substantive topic, or some aspect of the theories implicitly used in making observations.

Larry Laudan [29] has also made two important contributions to the debate. Laudan believed that something akin to paradigms exist in the social sciences Kuhn had contested this, see below ; he referred to these as research traditions. Laudan noted that some anomalies become "dormant", if they survive a long period during which no competing alternative has shown itself capable of resolving the anomaly.

He also presented cases in which a dominant paradigm had withered away because its lost credibility when viewed against changes in the wider intellectual milieu.

Kuhn himself did not consider the concept of paradigm as appropriate for the social sciences. He explains in his preface to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that he developed the concept of paradigm precisely to distinguish the social from the natural sciences. While visiting the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in and , surrounded by social scientists, he observed that they were never in agreement about the nature of legitimate scientific problems and methods.

He explains that he wrote this book precisely to show that there can never be any paradigms in the social sciences. Mattei Dogan , a French sociologist, in his article "Paradigms in the Social Sciences," develops Kuhn's original thesis that there are no paradigms at all in the social sciences since the concepts are polysemic , involving the deliberate mutual ignorance between scholars and the proliferation of schools in these disciplines.

Dogan provides many examples of the non-existence of paradigms in the social sciences in his essay, particularly in sociology, political science and political anthropology. However, both Kuhn's original work and Dogan's commentary are directed at disciplines that are defined by conventional labels such as "sociology".

These structures will be motivating research, providing it with an agenda, defining what is and is not anomalous evidence, and inhibiting debate with other groups that fall under the same broad disciplinary label. A good example is provided by the contrast between Skinnerian radical behaviourism and personal construct theory PCT within psychology.

The most significant of the many ways these two sub-disciplines of psychology differ concerns meanings and intentions.

Research Strategy , even if their dissertation guidelines do not mention such things, it is still worth checking with your supervisor whether this is a requirement. If you leave it out at the start, but are later told it needs to be included, it can be much more difficult to incorporate at a later date.

This is because when applied properly to your research, it is so instrumental in shaping the choices you make when setting your research strategy, as well as affecting the conclusions that you make based on your findings something that we discuss in Chapter Five: Since you are taking on a Route 1: Replication-based dissertation , you will ideally need to understand the research paradigm that underpins your main journal article so that you can compare this with your chosen research paradigm.

Unfortunately, journal articles rarely state the research paradigm that underpinned their research, usually because journals do not require such information to be included, or because many academics will either not think about such things or they will be implicit in the way that the research was carried out or written up.

Since understanding the principals and characteristics of research paradigms can be a difficult process in and of itself, especially at the undergraduate and master's level where you're limited in the time you'll have to look into such things, this makes it very tricky to recognize the characteristics of different research paradigms in the main journal article you are interested in.

As a result, assuming that including a Research Paradigm section within your Research Strategy chapter is a must, this leaves you with two choices:. Option A Focus on the research paradigm guiding your dissertation. If a difference in the research paradigm underpinning the research in the main journal article and your dissertation is not a major justification for your choice of route or the approach within that route, we would suggest ignoring the research paradigm used in the main journal article, and simply thinking about the research paradigm you want to use in your dissertation.

To do this, you'll need to think about your basic set of beliefs , since it is these beliefs that you have i. Ultimately, since you are doing a quantitative dissertation, this will most likely lead you to choose between a positivist or post-positivist research paradigm.

However, it is worth noting that there are other research paradigms that may be appropriate when taking on a quantitative dissertation, as well as different ways of describing such research paradigms e. Option B Learn how to recognize some of the main characteristics of research paradigms in a piece of research. If a difference in the research paradigm underpinning the research in the main journal article and your dissertation is a major justification for your choice of route or the approach within that route, we would suggest learning how to recognize some of the main characteristics of research paradigms in a piece of research.

A research paradigm can act as a major justification for your choice of route and approach when the choice of research paradigm in the main journal article has led to a potential flaw or limitation in the main journal article.

Take the following example:. Example A Research paradigms and "wild assertions" Imagine that the authors of your main journal article made what you would consider to be "wild assertions" when it came to saying how far their findings could be generalised.


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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.

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Research paradigms and research methods Each of the paradigms discussed above has definite research methods which can be used in carrying out scientific investigation. Positivism which emphasizes objectivist approach to studying social phenomena gives importance to research methods focusing on quantitative analysis, surveys, experiments and the like.

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Describing something as a ‘research paradigm’ means that it is an established model, accepted by a substantial number of people in aresearch community. For example, tt could be argued that positivism and interpretivism are (rival) paradigms of research within sociology. Each academic discipline may have its own research paradigms. 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.

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Research methods refers to the more practical issues of choosing an appropriate research design – perhaps an experiment or a survey – to answer a research question, and 5/5(18). research methodologies and methods that are often presented as competing paradigms and therefore as against each other. This paper is a humble attempt to discuss and clarify research.