Any research aims at discovering something about the world

Any research aims at discovering something about the world. Epistemologically speaking, one may claim that knowledge can be uncovered, established or ascertained by clear and precise procedures. Even though some facts are sometimes known accidentally, they can be corroborated by investigations. These investigations can be conducted by use of such approaches as experiments, hypothesis-testing, observations etc. (Seltman, 2012, p. 34). When these approaches are considered as a set, a question arises: “why one set of approaches is preferred than others?” The responses to this question stimulate epistemological and ontological ideas of each set of approaches.
In this discussion, I will look at what research paradigm is, since conducting research requires a philosophical perception that under¬pins investigation, which, in turn, influences methodological strategy to be used. Then, I will discuss about differences between positivist and interpretative paradigms.
According to Schwandt (2014) a paradigm is a shared worldview representing the beliefs and values in a discipline that guides how problems are solved. Thus, it is how a worldview is defined based on philosophical conceptions about reality, how it is known, and ethical processes used and the systematic values (Patton, 2002; Rubin and Rubin, 2005).
The most important research approaches to acquire knowledge in any field of study are positivist and interpretive strategies. I will argue in this discussion that the positivist and interpretive approaches are incomparable and at odds as they are based upon different philosophical concepts and goals. However, incomparability does not entail that they cannot be harmonised.
Philosophical concepts are declarations made without proper empirical support and founded on diverse views of reality, social beings, and knowledge. Positivist and interpretive approaches differ in their philosophical ideas and goals. Concerning positivist approach, it is a methodological philosophy in quantitative research where methods of natural sciences are applied to learn about social science (Crotty, 1998, p8-9). The term “methodology” refers how investigators respond to research questions and does not just include data-collection procedures, but also design, circumstances, respondents, analysis, reporting etc. Furthermore, Hudson and Ozanne (1988) stated that several positions can be loosely grouped under positivism: logical positivism, the received view, logical empiricism, modern empiricism, neopositivism, foundationalism, and objectivism. Likewise, the interpretive approach loosely captures several positions: subjectivism, phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, hermeneutics, and so on. p.509.
Pertaining to specific goals, they do not vary very much, but in the comparative weighting of goals and how goals are fulfilled. The positivists’ dominant goal is clarification through principles of conduct under universal laws; yet the goal of clarification involves prediction. The clarification is achieved when it is illustrated that there is systematic linkage of variables underlying an incident. On the other hand, the interpretivists’ basic research goal is to comprehend conduct, not prediction. The interpretivists’ perception of comprehension is completely different from the positivists’ perspective. The interpretivist recognise comprehension as more of a process than an end-product.


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