Skip Nav

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

Navigation menu

❶That is, they determine the particular nature of what is to be known, so much so that they propose different methods for knowing and different validation criteria to assess research quality.

Other Philosophy Terms


It is useful to note here that phenomenology can be confusingly used both to define a philosophical approach and also as a methodology Denzin and Lincoln, Bryman talks about an organisation as a tangible object, with rules, regulations and procedures, with people appointed to different jobs under a division of labour with a hierarchy, mission statement etc.

He suggests that the organisation has a reality which is external to those within in and it represents a social order that requires individuals to conform to the rules and regulations. It is a restraining force that both acts on and inhibits its members.

Bryman also suggests that the same is true of culture, which can be seen as a collection of shared values and customs into which people are socialized to conform. In essence, positivism says that social phenomena have an existence that is independent or separate from the actors within it. Examples of this are Virgin or GEC where the CEO Branson or Welch have clearly defined the cultural norms albeit in very different ways and new employees conform very quickly because the culture is so strong and dictated by charismatic leaders who are aligned with their strong brand.

Truth only happens in the moment. He goes on to give the example that human beings construct the organisation and the culture instead of the organisation and culture being pre-given categories which affect behaviours.

This will often happen with start up companies where the culture evolves as the organisation grows and the product or service develops. Often this development is aligned to the intellectual and experiential growth of the founding team. Microsoft and Apple where the leaders have empowered their teams and the organic internal growth evolves the brand and therefore could cause it to be more enduring and of course this is my experience and may not be true! The Epistemology is about the information that counts as acceptable knowledge in NLP and how it should be acquired and interpreted.

The two Ontological positions point to two of the main distinctions in the Epistemology of research in NLP ;. Positivism does not allow for the subjective opinions of the researcher as the approach deals with verifiable observations and measurable relations between those observations, not with speculation and conjecture.

It is therefore the more scientific perspective with no room here for the subjective opinions of the researcher as the approach deals with verifiable observations and measurable relations between them, not with speculation and conjecture.

The Interpretivist approach however, rejects absolute facts and suggests that facts are based on perception rather than objective truth. With this approach, the conclusions are derived from the interpretations of the participants rather than the abstract theories of the researcher or scientist. This means there is a challenge to understand the meanings that individuals and teams attach to their activities. There are no Universal laws or experiences as the world is always being developed and re-developed by reflective, thinking, feeling beings who are able to make a difference to their environment and the focus is usually on meaning and perceived realities rather than facts.

The researcher will often need to get some specialist knowledge in order to understand the meanings, values and contexts of their subjects e. Easterby-Smith, Thorpe et al.

Which research questions might be best answered using each epistemological approach? There are implications for the researcher from both the Positivist and the Interpretivist approaches. Alternatively Easterby-Smith, Thorpe et al. It is vital to decide on your approach before moving into your research design, and the impact of your choice upon design e. The Landscape of Qualitative Research: Research Methods for Business Students 4 th ed.

Financial Times Prentice Hall. What on earth are Ontology and Epistemology? By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website. Again thanks for sharing us.

P, thank you so much for this explanation! Glad to know I have some place to go to for clarity. I wish all reviewers would read your article it is useful and clear. I certainly will keep it in mind for my own future reviews. Hi, thanks for the information. I have a question that maybe you or someone can help me with.

If symbolic interactionism is influenced by pragmatism, how did it end up being a interpretist theoretical perspective? I get that pragmatism states to use the best methods possible, but is there any more information on this? Many thanks in advance. This is a clear, logical post that provides explanation in an easily accessible fashion. I am currently writing my Methods chapter and was struggling to understand a lot of the philosophical underpinnings piece.

What you have provided here is very clear and comprehensive. Thank you for sharing. I just wanted to say Thank you! Finally, someone who can explain all the jargon simply. I am so much better equipped both in my personal studies and in my academic career. Salma, I have shared this with many researchers and students and keep coming back to it.

It is really an invaluable post and you have done the academic community a great service in sharing it. Just wanting to say thank you. That was extremely helpful. It is just so good! I am a PhD candidate and return to this page time and again. Thank you for putting it together. Thank you for this very useful information.

Please anyone, help me to understand that, where is the definition of Paradigm mentioned in the book of Kuhn Salma, Thank you so much for your time, effort and sharing your knowledge. Your website is invaluable and has really helped me feel confident about starting my thesis, after feeling completely lost and hopeless. Ideally I should be able to clearly articulate to others what my research paradigm is, though I often find myself oscillating between different poles depending on the day of the […].

A well written article on the paradigms of research in social science. I found many insights regarding the topic. The tabular form is much interesting and comprehensive.

This has been fantastic and has saved me from losing my mind. The detail is clear, simple and understandable. I thank you for this. The diagram below explains the above terms and the relationship between them: Why is it important?

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 too , and your own research paradigm could very well sit in between one of the paradigms.

Where does most social science research sit? According to Eddie , and quoting directly, most social science sits into the following: 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.

What impact will my chosen paradigm have on my research? Let me give you an example of an interview based research that is constructivist: Useful reading and references Texts I found useful: Blog posts that were useful: You may also like.

Profile cancel Sign in with Twitter Sign in with Facebook. Changing direction a little … Salma Patel. View November 30, View May 31, View October 13, View October 28, View November 1, View November 14, View November 16, View November 18, View November 26, View November 27, View November 28, View December 16, Dear Salma, I found it very useful and learn lots out of it. View December 20, View December 31, Hi Salma Thank you so much for your sharing such an informative information, it was very helpful for me.

Research Basics — Cynthia's Website. View January 29, View February 1, This is so ridiculously helpful of you. View February 2, View February 7, A very useful review.

View February 9, View February 13, View February 27, View March 7, View March 9, View March 14, View March 23, An exampler of a best teacher! View April 3, View March 25, View April 1, View April 6, View April 12, View April 27, View May 12, View May 7, You have lucidly and successfully explain the technical terms to the novice. View May 23, Hi Helubi, You would normally make reference to both Ontology and Epistemology in the thesis.

View July 6, Learnt a lot from ur simple explanations Thanks n keep up. View July 8, View August 25, View September 5, View August 2, View 11 months ago. View August 4, Thank you so much Salma. View August 16, View 10 months ago. Wow, thank you so much for making this clear. It will certainly help with my assignment. Thank you for sharing, this has been so helpful for my understanding of the different paradigms. View 9 months ago.

Thank you so much brother! Your article has helped me a lot in my thesis review. View 8 months ago. View 7 months ago. This was good and helpful,,,i was about to begin pulling my hair out.

View 6 months ago. Truly appreciate this information, it could not have been any clearer,.

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Ontology and epistemology are two different ways of viewing a research philosophy. Ontology in business research can be defined as “the science or study of being” and it deals with the nature of reality. Ontology is a system of belief that reflects an interpretation by an individual about what constitutes a fact.

Privacy FAQs

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations.

About Our Ads

What on earth are Ontology and Epistemology? Dr Sally Vanson I am an NLP Master Trainer, sit on the accreditation panel of ANLP, the Research Committee of ICF and am CEO of The Performance Solution where as well as training professional coaches to get accreditation through ICF, we have designed, developed and run the world’s first NLP based Masters’ degree. 3. Choose a spokes person to report back on: (i) how your research brief grew out of your epistemological starting point(s); (ii) any difficulties you faced in agreeing on epistemological and ontological positions in relation to your proposed research; (iii) potential limitations to the research: e.g.

Cookie Info

There is also a 2nd (ie alternate) meaning of `ontology' in the Digital Humanities (and, information science), which is sort of more like a `key term' in a `list of key . Nevertheless, a distance between the knower and the known, rendering the former "an impartial observer and the other to be subject to the observer's gaze" (SAVAGE, , p), often persists in those who, despite carrying out qualitative research, cannot get rid of an empiricist ontology and epistemology.