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Research Paradigms and Logic of Research:

Implications for Research Design?

The Classical Greek The Classical Greek

philosopher Plato. philosopher Socrates

By : Mr. Nagendra Bahadur Amatya

Institute of engineering, Pulchowk campus, Nepal
Presentation Outline (Part I)

 What is Research?
 What is Paradigm? Definition, Concept,
the Paradigm Shift
 Main Components of a Paradigm:
Ontology, Epistemology & Methodology
 Research Paradigms and Social Research:
Three Main Paradigms
Presentation Outline (Part II)

 Paradigm Positions on Selected

Practical Research Issues
 Logic of Inquiry: Research Strategies
 Quantitative/Qualitative Research:
Salient Features; Mixed Methods?
 Research Process
 The Researcher as Bricoleur
What is research?
• “A studious inquiry or examination,
especially a critical investigation or
experimentation having for its aim the
discovery of new facts and their correct
interpretation, the revision of accepted
conclusions, theories, or laws in the light
of new discovered facts or the practical
application of such conclusions, theories
or laws.”

• “Diligent and systematic inquiry or

investigation into a subject in order to
discover facts or principles.”
What is a paradigm?
 A broad framework of perception, understanding,
belief within which theories and practices operate.

 … a network of coherent ideas about the nature of

the world and the functions of researchers which,
adhered to by a group of researchers, conditions
their thinking and underpins their research actions
[Bassey, 1990: para 8.1]

 A basis for comprehension, for interpreting social

reality [Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000: 9]
What is a paradigm? (Continued)
 It pre-structures perceptions, conceptualisation &

 Shifts in scientific theory require new paradigms

[Science is] …a series of peaceful interludes
punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions …
in which one conceptual world view is replaced by
another. [Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000: 396]

 Researchers from different disciplines

[traditions?] may have different paradigms

 There are competing paradigms in education

Synoptic View of PARADIGM ?

 a mental model
 a way of seeing
 a filter for one's perceptions
 a frame of reference
 a framework of thought or beliefs through
which one's world or reality is interpreted
 an example used to define a phenomenon
 a commonly held belief among a group of
people, such as scientists of a given discipline
Paradigm Shift
 In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of
Scientific Revolution, and fathered, defined and
popularized the concept of "paradigm shift" (p.10).
Kuhn argues that scientific advancement is not
evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful
interludes punctuated by intellectually violent
revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual
world view is replaced by another".

 Think of a Paradigm Shift as a change from one way

of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a
transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does
not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change.
Main Components
of a Paradigm:
(Ontology, Epistemology,
Main Components of Paradigm

 ‘Epistemology – „The branch of

philosophy concerned with the
origin, nature, methods & limits of

 Ontology – „concerned with being‟ or

 Ontology is the starting point of all
research, after which one‟s
epistemological and methodological
positions logically follow. A dictionary
definition of the term may describe it
as the image of social reality upon
which a theory is based
 Norman Blaikie offers a fuller definition,
suggesting that ontological claims are
„claims and assumptions that are made
about the nature of social reality, claims
about what exists, what it looks like, what
units make it up and how these units
interact with each other.

 In short, ontological assumptions are

concerned with what we believe constitutes
social reality‟ (Blaikie, 2000, p. 8)
 Epistemology, one of the core branches of
philosophy, is concerned with the theory of
knowledge, especially in regard to its
methods, validation and „the possible ways
of gaining knowledge of social reality,
whatever it is understood to be.

 In short, claims about how what is

assumed to exist can be known‟ (Blaikie,
2000, p. 8).
Derived from the Greek words episteme
(knowledge) and logos (reason), epistemology
focuses on the knowledge-gathering process and
is concerned with developing new models or
theories that are better than competing models
and theories.

Knowledge, and the ways of discovering it, is not

static, but forever changing. When reflecting on
theories, and concepts in general, researchers
need to reflect on the assumptions on which they
are based and where they originate from in the
first place.
Ways of Knowing about the
World: Inquiry Strategies
•Authority (parents, state, boss, etc)
•Religion (faith, belief, standard, morals, etc)
•Tradition (we have always done that way, folkways,
cultural patterns, we know how to behave in
certain situation)
•Science and scientific research
Research Methods and
Methodology refers to general principles
which underline how we investigate the
social world and how we demonstrate that
the knowledge generated is valid.

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 then designing instruments to generate
Research Paradigms
Social Research
Basic Beliefs (Metaphysics) of Alternative Inquiry Paradigms

Item Positivism Post Positivism Critical Theory, Constructivism

et al (learning theory)
Ontology Naïve realism— Critical realism— Historical Relativism—local
“real” reality but “real” reality but realism—virtual and specific
apprehend able only imperfectly reality shaped by constructed
and probabilistically social, political, realities
apprehend able cultural, economic,
ethnic, and gender
values; crystallized
over time

Epistemology Dualist/ Modified dualist/ Transactional/ Transactional/

objectivist; objectivist; critical subjectivist; value- subjectivist; created
findings true tradition/community; mediated findings findings
findings probably

Methodology Experimental/ Modified Dialogic/dialectical Hermeneutical/

manipulative; experimental/ dialectical
verification of manipulative; critical
hypotheses; multiplism;
chiefly quantitative falsification of
methods hypotheses; may
methods include qualitative
Paradigm Positions on Selected Practical Issues

Issue Positivism Post Critical Constructivism

Positivism Theory, et al
Nature of Verified hypotheses Non falsified Structural/historical Individual
knowledge established as facts hypotheses insights reconstructions
or laws that are coalescing around
probable facts consensus
or laws
Inquiry aim explanation Prediction and Critique and Understanding;
control transformation, reconstruction
restitution and

Knowledge Accretion – “building blocks” adding to Historical More informed and

accumulation “edifice of knowledge”; generalizations situatedness; sophisticated
and cause-effect linkages generalization by reconstructions,
similarity vicarious experience

Goodness or Conventional benchmarks of “rigor” Historical Trustworthiness

quality criteria internal and external validity, reliability situatenedness; and
and objectivity erosion of ignorance
and authenticity
action stimulus

Values Excluded – influence denied Included -- formative

Paradigm Positions on Selected Practical Issues (Continued)

Issue Positivism Post Positivism Critical Theory, Constructivism

et al
Ethics Extrinsic; tilt towards deception Intrinsic; tilt Intrinsic;
towards moral process tilt
elevation towards
special problems
Voice “disinterested scientist” as “transformative “passionate
informer of decision makers, intellectual” as participant” as
policy makers, and change agents advocate and facilitator of
activist multi-voice
Training Technical and Technical; Re-socialization; qualitative and
quantitative; quantitative and quantitative; history; values of
substantive qualitative; altruism and empowerment
theories substantive
Accommodation Commensurable Incommensurable

Hegemony In control of publication, funding, Seeking recognition and input

promotion, and tenure
Theoretical Perspective History




Logic of Inquiry: Research
The Inductive approach to enquiry builds
generalizations out of observations of specific
events. It starts with singular or particular
statements and ends up with general or universal

It presupposes that explanations about the

workings of the world should be based on facts
gained from pure, dispassionate and neutral
observation, rather than on preconceived notions;
that nature will reveal itself to a passively receptive
Induction (Continued)
The Inductive strategy assumes that all science starts with
observations which provide a secure basis from which
knowledge can be derived and claims that reality impinges
directly on the senses, hence there is a correspondence
between sensory experiences, albeit extended by
instrumentation, and the objects of those experiences. The
conclusion of an inductive argument makes claims that
exceed what is contained in the premises and so promises
to extend knowledge by going beyond actual experience.
The more observations that demonstrate, say, a
relationship between phenomena, the higher the probability
that the general statement is true. Verification of derived
generalizations comes through observations about
particular phenomena that appear to support it.
Induction (Continued)
Critics of this approach claim that: it is essentially
descriptive and does not really explain anything
as it fails to uncover the causes of the
generalized conjunctions; there is no purely
logical inductive process for establishing the
validity of universal statements from a set of
singular ones; it is impossible to make the infinite
number of observations required to prove the
universal statement true in all cases and; is
objectivity possible when observations and their
analysis are made by people who have some view
of the world arising out of their particular
Inductive Thinking

The Deductive (hypothetico-deductive or

falsificationist) approach is the reverse of
an Inductive one. It begins explicitly with a
tentative hypothesis or set of hypotheses
that form a theory which could provide a
possible answer or explanation for a
particular problem, then proceeds to use
observations to rigorously test the
The Deductive argument moves from
premises, at least one of which is a
general or universal statement, to a
conclusion that is a singular statement.
Deductive propositions form a hierarchy
from theoretical to observational; from
abstract to concrete. The Deductivist
accepts that observation is guided and
presupposed by the theory.
Deduction (continued)

Attempts are made to refute the hypotheses

through rigorous criticism and testing. If the
data derived by testing the hypothesis is not
consistent with the predicted conclusions, the
theory must be false. Surviving theories are
corroborated, but are never proved true despite
withstanding testing and observation. A current
theory is superior to its predecessors only
because it has withstood tests which falsified
its predecessor.
Deduction (continued)
Critics of this approach claim that:

• where a theory has not been falsified, its acceptance relies

on data that lend 'inductive support';
• Deductivists are reluctant to deal with the process by
which hypotheses come into being;
• whether Deductivism provides any rational basis for
choosing between all un-refuted alternative theories in
order to make some practical prediction.
• The Inductivist position is that the truth of theories could
be conclusively established.
• The Deductivist position claims that while the pursuit of
truth is the goal of science, all scientific theories are
• Neither Induction or Deduction contributes a single new
concept or new idea.
Deductive Thinking
The Research Wheel
Combined approach:

A scheme has been proposed by Wallace

(1971) that combines Inductive and
Deductive strategies to capitalize on their
strengths and minimize their weaknesses
creating a cyclic process that allows for
movement between theorizing and doing
empirical research while using both
Inductive and Deductive methods of

Retroductive research strategy involves the building of

hypothetical models as a way of uncovering the real
structures and mechanisms which are assumed to
produce empirical phenomena. The model, if it were to
exist and act in the postulated way, would therefore
account for the phenomena in question. In constructing
these models of mechanisms that have usually never
been observed, ideas may be borrowed from known
structures and mechanisms in other fields.

A phenomena or range of phenomena is identified,

explanations based on the postulated existence of a
generative mechanism are constructed and empirically
tested, and this mechanism then becomes the
phenomenon to be explained and the cycle repeats. p168

Pierce regarded Retroduction or 'hypothesis

formulation' as being the first stage of an enquiry. It
is a process akin to finding the right key for the lock,
although the key may never have been observed

The hypothesis must be tested using both

Deduction and Induction; in the second stage of an
enquiry, consequences are deducted from the
hypothesis and, in the third stage, these
consequences are tested by means of Induction. He
suggested that a hypothesis must eliminate
puzzlement as a necessary first step.
Retroduction/Abduction occurs in the
context of ontological, conceptual and
theoretical assumptions; the researcher
does not start with a blank slate in the
manner implied by Inductivists. Quasi-
accessible mechanisms can be discovered
from empirical studies of an exploratory
kind with input from an associated field of
knowledge in which some process is used
as an analogy for the one under
investigation. p 169
Retroduction differs from Induction which infers
from one set of facts, another set of
facts, whereas Retroduction infers from facts of
one kind, to facts of another. Unlike Deductive
reasoning, Inductive and Retroductive reasoning
are synthetic or ampliative because they make
claims that do not follow logically from the
premises. In addition, neither Induction nor
Deduction can produce any new ideas. On the
other hand, Retroductive/Abductive reasoning
involves making an hypothesis which appears to
explain what has been observed; it is observing
some phenomenon and then claiming what it was
that gave rise to it.

The Abductive research strategy is used by

Interpretivism to produce scientific accounts of
social life by drawing on the concepts and
meanings used by social actors and the activities in
which they engage.

Access to any social world is by the accounts given

by the people who inhabit it. These accounts
contain the concepts that people use to structure
their world - the meanings and interpretations, the
motives and intentions which people use in their
everyday lives and which direct their behavior.
Abduction/Interpretivism acknowledges that human
behavior depends on how individuals interpret the
conditions in which they find themselves and
accepts that it is essential to have a description of
the social world on its own terms. It is the task of
the social scientist to discover and describe this
world from an 'insider' view and not impose an
'outsider' view.

A position taken by Douglas rules out experimental

situations. Everyday life is studied in its own terms
- the members' understanding, and only methods of
observation and analysis that retain the integrity of
the phenomena should be used.
Abduction is applied when attempting to move
from lay accounts of everyday life, to technical,
scientific or expert descriptions of that social
life. p 177

Abduction is a developing strategy with on-

going debate on how best to move from lay
language to technical language. There are
differences of opinion with regard to retaining
the integrity of the phenomena when moving
first order constructs (people's views and
explanations), to second order constructs (the
social scientist's interpretations).
The Abductive strategy has many layers to it. There is
some difficulty in preceding to the final stage in which
social theories might be generated from the second order
constructs or that these social scientific descriptions can
be understood in terms of prevailing social theories and
perspectives, leading to the possibility of an explanation
or a prediction.

Some positions argue that the research should go no

further than to sort through, devise categories for and
pigeon hole the various constructs provided by the social
actors within the study.

The Abductive/Interpretivist approach has been advocated

as either the only approach for social sciences, or an
adjunct to other strategies.
Positivism, Critical Theory et. al,
A Comparison Among Paradigms
Quantitative purists (Positivists):

 Believe that social observations should be treated as

entities in much the same way that physical scientists
treat physical phenomena.
 Contend that the observer is separate from the entities
that are subject to observation.

 Maintain that social science inquiry should be objective.

 That time- and context-free generalizations (Nagel,
1986) are desirable and possible, and

 Real causes of social scientific outcomes can be

determined reliably and validly.
Interpretivism / Constructivism
 Qualitative purists (also called constructivists
and interpretivists) reject positivism.

 Argue for the superiority of constructivism,

idealism, relativism, humanism, hermeneutics,
and, sometimes, postmodernism.

 Contend that multiple-constructed realities


 That time- and context-free generalizations

are neither desirable nor possible,
Interpretivism/Constructivism (Cont’d)

 That research is value-bound,

 That it is impossible to differentiate fully

causes and effects,

 That logic flows from specific to general (e.g.,

explanations are generated inductively from
the data), and

 That knower and known cannot be separated

because the subjective knower is the only
source of reality.
Understanding Critical Theory

Two Propositions

 1) People are a product of the society in

which they live. Hence this implies that
their is no such thing as an objective fact
that can be known outside of structure.

 2) Intellectuals should not try to be

objective and separate value judgments
from their work
Quantitative Versus Qualitative
Salient Features; Mixed Methods?
Quantitative Qualitative
research research

 Its purpose is to explain  Its purpose is to

social life understand social life

 Is nomothetic – interested  Is ideographic –

in establishing law-like describes reality as it is
statements, causes,
consequences, etc

 Aims at theory testing  Aims at theory building

 Employs an objective  Employs a subjective

approach approach
Quantitative Qualitative
research research

 Is etiological – interested  Is historical – interested

in explanations over in real cases
space and time

 Is a closed approach – is  Is open and flexible in all

strictly planned aspects

 Research process is  Research process is

predetermined influenced by the
 Uses a rigid and static  Uses a dynamic approach
Quantitative research Qualitative research

 Employs an inflexible  Employs a flexible

process process

 Is particularistic,  Is holistic – studies

studies elements, whole units

 Employs random  Employs theoretical

sampling sampling
Quantitative research Qualitative research

 Places priority on  Places priority on

studying differences
studying similarities

 Employs a reductive  Employs an

data analysis explicative data
 Employs high levels
of measurement  Employs low levels
of measurement
 Employs a deductive
 Employs an
inductive approach
Feature Quantitative Qualitative
Methodology Methodology
Nature of reality Objective; simple; Subjective;
single; tangible problematic;
sense holistic; a social
impressions construct

Causes and Nomological Non-deterministic;

effects thinking; cause – mutual shaping; no
effect linkages cause – effect

The role of values Value neutral; Normativism;

value-free inquiry value-bound
Feature Quantitative Methodology Qualitative Methodology

Natural and social Deductive; model of Inductive; rejection of the

sciences natural sciences; natural sciences model;
nomothetic; bases on ideographic; no strict
strict rules rules; interpretations

Methods Quantitative, Qualitative, with less

mathematical; extensive emphasis on statistics;
use of statistics verbal and qualitative

Researcher‟s role Rather passive; is the Active; „knower‟ and

„knower‟; is separate from „known‟ are interactive
subject – the known: and inseparable

Generalizations Inductive generalizations; Analytical or conceptual

nomothetic statements generalizations; time-
and-context specific
Inter-relationship between the building blocks of Research

Ontology Epistemology Methodology Methods Sources

What’s out
there to
know? What and
how can
we know How can we
about it? go about
can we use to
acquire it?
data can
we collect?

Adapted from Hay, 2002, pg. 64

Researcher as Bricoleur
The Qualitative Researcher as Bricoleur
The multiple methodologies of qualitative
research may be viewed as a bricolage, and
the researcher as bricoleur.

A bricoleur is a “Jack of all trades or a kind

of professional do-it-yourself person”.

The bricoleur produces a bricolage, that is, a

pieced together, close-knit set of practices
that provide solutions to a problem in a
concrete situation.
The Qualitative Researcher as Bricoleur

 The solution (bricolage) which is the result

of the bricoleur‟s method is an (emergent)
construction that changes and takes new
forms as different tools, methods, and
techniques are added to the puzzles

 Bricoleur uses the tools of his or her

methodological trade, deploying whatever
strategies, methods or empirical
materials, as are at hand, or invents and
pieces together new tools if needed
 The choice of research practices depends
upon the questions that are asked, and
the questions depend on their context:

 The combination of multiple methods,

empirical materials, perspectives and
observers in a single study is best
understood, then, as a strategy that adds
rigor, breadth and depth to any
 The bricoleur is adept at performing a large
number of tasks, ranging from interviewing to
observing, to interpreting personal and
historical documents, to intensive self
reflection and introspection

 The bricoleur reads widely and is

knowledgeable about the many interpretive
paradigms/perspectives (Feminism, Marxism,
Cultural Studies, Constructivism) that can be
brought to any particular problem
 He/She may not feel that paradigms can be
mingled or synthesized, that is, paradigms
as overarching philosophical systems
denoting particular anthologies,
epistemologies, and methodologies cannot
be easily moved between.

 They represent belief systems that attach

the user to a particular worldview.

 Perspectives, in contrast, are less well

developed systems, and can be more
easily moved between.
 The researcher-as-bricoleur-theorist works
between and within competing and overlapping
perspectives and paradigms.

 Research is an interactive process shaped by

researcher‟s personal history, biography, gender,
social class, race and ethnicity and those of the
people in the setting.

 The bricoleur knows that there is no value-free


 Thus the narratives, or stories, scientists tell are

accounts couched and framed within specific
storytelling traditions often defined as paradigms
(e.g. Positivism, Post-positivism, Constructivism).
 He/She knows that researchers all tell stories
about the worlds they have studied

 The product of the bricoleur‟s labor is a

bricolage, a complex dense, reflexive, collage-
like creation that represents the researcher‟s
images, understanding, and interpretation of the
world or phenomenon under analysis.

 This bricolage will connect the parts to the

whole, stressing the meaningful relationships
that operate in the situations and social worlds
Suggested Readings
 Norman W. H. Blaikie, Approaches to Social Inquiry,
Polity Press, UK,1993.
 Norman W. H. Blaikie, Designing Social Research
Polity Press, UK, 2000.
 Norman K, Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln,
Handbook of Qualitative Research, SAGE
Publications, USA,1993.