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ⓘ The Age of Data

Research Philosophy - A Discussion

Joshua Ferdinand

Staff member
Sep 27, 2010
Research is generally guided by underlying beliefs (like positivism or interpretivism) that shape how we study things. These beliefs influence the methods we choose and how we interpret results. Different approaches offer different ways to see the world and ask questions.

PhilosophyCharacteristicsResearch Methods
PositivismAssumes a single, observable reality that can be studied objectively. Emphasises quantifiable observations and statistical analysis.Surveys, experiments, quantitative data analysis
InterpretivismBelieves in multiple realities shaped by human experiences and interpretations. Focuses on understanding the meaning behind social phenomena.Qualitative interviews, ethnography, case studies
PragmatismFocuses on the practical implications of research and the value of integrating both objective and subjective perspectives. Solutions-oriented.Mixed methods, action research, case studies
RealismAssumes a reality independent of human thoughts but acknowledges that our understanding of it is influenced by our perceptions and social constructs.Experiments, surveys, qualitative interviews
ConstructivismArgues that reality is socially constructed through human interactions and perceptions. Emphasises the subjective interpretation of social phenomena.Ethnography, narrative research, grounded theory
Critical TheorySeeks to understand and critique social structures and power dynamics to foster societal change. Focuses on issues of equity and justice.Participatory action research, critical discourse analysis

These philosophical approaches provide a framework for conducting research, influencing the choice of methodology, the design of studies, and the interpretation of findings. Researchers often select a philosophical stance that aligns with their research question, objectives, and the nature of the phenomena under investigation.