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A brief note on philosophical assumptions Ontology and Epistemology which influence

research design Qualitative and Quantitative and the methods which can be used in
both Quantitative and Qualitative research.
Ontology and Epistemology are the branches of philosophy through which we can enter into
the body of knowledge or how something is right or wrong and why, by knowing something
and uses parameters to evaluate that knowing. In ontology we discuss about the general things
or what is truth or what exists while in epistemology we discuss about what is reality and how
we can reach to reality, what and how the specific things are exists. In general we can say that
ontology deals with what is true and epistemology deals with methods to figuring out the
truth but many issues have often different ontologies and epistemologies, for example science
and religion have different views about existence of God and universe. We can say that when
we discuss about the ontology/epistemology for science and religion they have different views
about reality and how the reality is judged by apply different tools and techniques.
The two branches of philosophy i.e. ontology and epistemology are intimately related because
when ontology explores some phenomena what is truth then epistemology investigates the
particular phenomena by using methods that how this phenomena is true or false followed by
empiricism or rationalism.
Qualitative and Quantitative research designs, these are may be called as the two different
approaches or research designs used to figure out some specific under-studied phenomena
either by qualitative approach or quantitative approach. Some of the differences between
qualitative and quantitative approach are following:

Qualitative is primarily inductive process used to formulate theory or hypotheses while

Quantitative is primarily deductive process used to test pre-specified concepts,
constructs, and hypotheses that make up a theory.
Qualitative is more subjective research while Quantitative is a more objective research.
Qualitative is an text based (documents) research while Quantitative is an number based
(statistical data)
Qualitative research is more in depth information of subject while Quantitative is less
in depth information of object but more knowledge/information of object.
Qualitative usually involves no statistical tests but Quantitative has usually involves
statistical tests.
Qualitative research is valid and reliable and depend upon the ability of researcher while
Quantitative is also valid and reliable and depend upon measurements or instruments
Qualitative research is time consuming during the analysis phase while quantitative is
time consuming during planning phase.
Qualitative research by nature (subjective) is less generalizable while Quantitative
research by nature (objective) is more generalizable.
Qualitative is a semi-structured question/discussion based while Quantitative is a
structured question based.
Qualitative research is designed to develop and initial understanding and sound base
for decision making while Quantitative research is designed to recommend a final
course of action or decision.

On the base of above mentioned differences we can generally summarize that:

Qualitative approach is used to collecting, investigating and interpreting data by observing
subjects that what they are saying while in Quantitative approach is used to collect and
investigate followed by statistical tests and interpret the results.
Qualitative research refers to research method of collecting descriptive (non-numerical) data.
The common instrument used to collect data are interview and observation, but Quantitative
refers to research method of collecting numerical data. The common tools used to collect data
are questionnaires and experiments.
When we discuss about the influence of Philosophical Approaches (Ontology & Epistemology)
on Research Designs (Qualitative & Quantitative) we came to know that these two
philosophical approaches influencing in a different way on research designs, when we discuss
about the research approaches (Qualitative & Quantitative), the concept of entire research
methods is different because former is highly subjective and later is highly objective and the
entire phenomena of collecting, analysing and interpreting the data is different so we can say
that these two philosophical assumptions (Ontology & Epistemology) influencing in a different
way by nature of research design.
The following table shows that how the two philosophical assumptions differently influencing
the research designs also called as the strengths and weakness of two research designs
Qualitative Research Design
Quantitative Research Design
Ontological Aspects
Ontological Aspects
Ends with hypothesis and grounded
Begins with hypothesis and theories
Manipulation and control
Emergence and portrayal
Used formal instruments
Researcher as instrument
Component analysis
Searches for pattern
Seeks consensus
Seeks Pluralism, complexity
Reduces data to numerical indices
Descriptive language in reporting
Abstract language is reporting
Epistemological Aspects
Epistemological Aspects
Reality is socially constructed
Facts have an objective reality
Primacy of subject matter
Primacy of method
Variables are complex, interwoven
Variables can be identified and
and difficult to measure
relationships measured
Takes an insiders point of view
Takes an outsiders point of view
Research Purpose
Generalization is fuzzy
Interpretation is consensual
Understanding actors perspective
Researchers role
Personal involvement and partial
Empathetic understanding

Research purpose
Generalization is scientific
Causal explanations are scientific
Researchers role
Detached and impartial
Objectively portrayed

Determining Which Method Should Be Used

If study aims to explain further why this particular event happened then you should make use
of Qualitative Research. If a study aims to find out the answer to an inquiry through numerical
evidence, then should make use of the Quantitative Research.
However some studies make use of both Quantitative and Qualitative Research, letting the two
complement each other. If your study aims to find out, for example, what the dominant human
behaviour is towards a particular object or event and at the same time aims to examine why
this is the case, it is then ideal to make use of both methods.
Research Designs/Methods
There are three commonly used approaches of doing research for phenomena of interest or
under studied are Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed methods which depends upon the
researcher that what type of study a researcher plans to do. For instance it may be the textual,
numerical or both textual and numerical. Researcher select the qualitative research approach
for research questions require textual data, researcher used quantitative research approach to
respond to questions require the numerical data and the mixed method approach used when
both the textual and numerical questions requires it.
Research Designs and the Methods Used In Research Designs
Qualitative Research Design is holistic in nature that involves discovery. It builds its premises
on the base of inductive reasoning and a researcher is highly involved with the subjects to
collect, analyse and interpret the results and give new insights about that phenomena. It is
highly subjective research and needs a researcher ability to analyse and interpret the results.
There are different methods used in qualitative research approach are case study, ethnography
study, grounded theory study, phenomenological study, and content analysis study. These
are the different methods of conducting a qualitative research depends upon the researcher that
how it wants. Case study method is used when the researcher wants to find out the solution of
a little known situation, a specific activity or event. This method uses the observation,
interviews and discussion with on-site people related to that particular case study.
Ethnography study method is used to observe and spend time with an entire group of people
who are sharing common cultural values. The focus on everyday behaviours to identify norms,
beliefs, social structure and other factors. This method used the observation and interviewing
the group and ask them questions that what they think about things and by spending time with
them researcher able to find the factors that influencing them. Grounded theory method is
used when a researcher attempts to derive a general, abstract theory of a process, action or
interaction grounded in the views of participants in a study. This method uses the observation,
interviewing and reviewing data available to build up a grounded theory. Phenomenological
study method is used to understand an experience from participants point of view or how a
participants seeing the event/experience and by this the researchers study is trying to answer
the question about experience. This method uses commonly the interview method which may
be long. Content analysis study method is used to identify the specific characteristic from the
content in human communications. The researcher is exploring the visual, verbal, behavioural
patterns, themes and biases. This study requires to identify the content and then use the
statistical analysis to analyse the data.
Quantitative Research Design is used to create meaning and new knowledge, to quantify data.
It is highly objective research and used statistical tools to analyse and interpret the results about
the data. The intent is to establish, confirm or validate the relationship and to develop the
generalizations that contribute to theory. There are different methods used in quantitative

research approach are descriptive method, experimental method, and causal comparative
method. These are the different methods of conducting a qualitative research depends upon
the researcher that how it wants. Descriptive method is basic research method that
examines the situation, as it exists in a current situation. It involves the identification of
attributes of a particular phenomenon based on an observational basis. Experimental method
is used to investigate the treatment of an intervention into the study group and then measures
the outcome of the treatment. The experimental research method may be included with preexperimental, true experimental and quasi-experimental which can be used as required. Causal
comparative method is used to examine that how the independent variables are affected by
the dependent variables and involves cause and effect relationship between the variables. It
provides an opportunity to the researcher to examine the interaction between independent
variables and their influence on dependent variables.
Mixed Methods Research Design is an approach used to combine both the qualitative and
quantitative methods into a research and it will helpful in better explaining the research
phenomenon being studied. The mixed method approach to research is an extension to research
rather than a replacement of qualitative or quantitative research methods. The aim of mix
methods is to collect, analyse and interpret the data and results by using qualitative and
quantitative methods where it can be best applied to refine and better tackle the research
problem and it helps to overcome the limitations in method that might be an hurdle while
choosing among qualitative or quantitative method particularly, it is easy to use mix methods
where the better results or goals of study can be achieved. Qualitative research is used to
examine the complex nature of the phenomenon being studied and quantitative research is used
to analyse the data by statistical tools to validate the results, the former use textual explanation
and later used the numerical explanation.
Conclusion of Research Designs and Methods
Quantitative and qualitative research methods investigate and explore the different claims to
knowledge and both methods are designed to address a specific type of research question. The
Qualitative method allows the researcher to better understand the complexity of a phenomenon,
while the quantitative method provides an objective measure of reality. The above description
shows what constitutes quantitative and qualitative research designs and summarized
techniques used to conduct studies for both research approaches. The above description also
shows that what constitutes the mixed methods approach when conducting research. Although
each approach seeks to validate sensory knowledge as truth, neither is absolute in its form.
Addressing the Questions in Research Designs
The research questions are one of the more important pieces of a research design. A research
question define what you want to learn or understand. The question addressed in research
design method helps us to focus on study and it gives us guidance that how to conduct study.
The type of questions that are looked in Qualitative method questions are How and Why
and on the base of that it can answer to the question that when, where and how often things
happen. Case study questions are often related to ask about the particular situation that is
under studied and start with the questions How and When and Why which gives us an
information about particular case. Ethnography questions are related to the culture of people
and their norms that how they feel about specific things in their point of view. Question starts
with What is your opinion, How you think and Why it is these type of questions asked
to explore their thinking depend on their cultural specific. Grounded theory questions are
related to discover the things which a researcher wants and on base of that he can make a
grounded theory. The questions included in this type are commonly start by How, Why

and then on base of that they came to know the specific things that are related to the study.
Phenomenological questions are related to study or describe the experiences of subjects about
the particular phenomenon. The questions are asked in this are What, Why it happened,
Does it these are used to understand their experience about the particular phenomenon.
The type of questions that can be asked in Quantitative method questions are comprised of
three types, Descriptive research questions simply aim to describe the variables we are
measuring, the questions that can be a included are i.e. How much, How often ,What
percentage , What proportion etc. these are the common type of questions that raised during
this type of method. Comparative research questions aims to examine the differences
between the two or more groups on one or more dependent variables. The questions that are
asked in this method are What is, What are these questions are basically posed to determine
the difference or compare two or more things. Relationship research questions aims to
understand the causal relationship, associations, interaction among two or more variables on
one or more group. The questions starts with what is the relationship which is followed by
the between or amongst.
The type of questions that can be asked in Mixed method questions are developing by keep
in mind the significance and use of specific method, if we want to get the deep understanding
its necessary to ask open ended questions that can better help to understand the particular
phenomenon while if we want to get numerical data we may use close ended question which
are exactly related. The questions are about to ask What happened, How it, Why,
When and Does it , when we asked the questions from both methods we can better get
more broad sense and understanding about the phenomenon.
However, when we talk about developing question in specific research methods its necessary
to examine the theory which is related to problem statement and that theory also guides the
researcher to develop the questions and further guides that how to refine and define it in
connection with specific methods, it also require the ethical consideration in questions and ask
questions that help better understand the particular phenomenon. The mixed method of
questioning is used when either research method or design is not sufficient to answer the
question then it is better to use mixed method.