selection of a research paradigm

How to Select a Research Paradigm?

How to select a research paradigm for your research study? Selecting a research paradigm for your research study requires a thorough understanding of what are the characteristics of each research paradigm. A research paradigm is a philosophy, methodology, epistemology, and ontology that provides complete guidelines to conduct a research. A research paradigm gives direction and path to conduct the research. Every research paradigm follows anyone of the research paradigm.

The term paradigm was first used by the scientist and researcher Thomas Kuhn, according to him a research paradigm is “an integrated cluster of substantive concepts, variables and problems attached with corresponding methodological approaches and tools”. The first two paradigms that emerged were positivism and antipositivism. In recent years, many new paradigms emerged especially in the social sciences. Most of these newly emerged paradigms can be classified under antipositivism.

For further reading about each of the paradigms read the following articles:

Positivism in Social Science Research

Constructivism in Social Science Research

Types of Research Paradigms

Selection of Research Paradigm

It is evident that the selection of the right research paradigm is necessary to take the research in the right direction. What should be the criteria to select a research paradigm? To select a research paradigm one should first formulate the research problem, research objectives, and hypothesis. This gives the researcher an idea of what is expected from the study and how to do it.

Each research paradigm supports some research methods and once the researcher decides the paradigm the research method can be selected. For example, positivism supports quantitative approach and hence experiments, close-ended questionnaire, and other quantitative analysis techniques can be used in this paradigm. While antipositivism supports qualitative approach and hence interviews, observations, and open-ended questionnaire are some of the techniques that can be used.

The researcher should be able to select a research paradigm and mention it in the research proposal. The selection of the right research paradigm is challenging for many researchers. The researcher needs to know in what paradigm the research can fit well, the researcher should be able to justify the selection. To select a research paradigm the researcher needs to ask some questions to himself. The answers to these questions will enable the researcher decide what paradigm can be used in the research.

  1. What is the nature of the research problem that needs to be studied?
  2. The research problem that needs to be studied is quantitative in nature or qualitative in nature?
  3. How the knowledge that you want to know can be acquired and how it can be communicated to other people? Is the knowledge that you want to gain available and you can know it through other people’s records or is it something that you have to experience personally?
  4. What is the nature of reality that you want to study is it objective or something that is the creation of the cognition.


  • Dash, N. K. “Module: Selection of the Research Paradigm and Methodology.” Online Research Methods Resource for Teachers and Trainers.
  • Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolution. Chicago : University of Chicago Press.
  • Dash, N.K. (1993). Research Paradigms in Education: Towards a Resolution. Journal of Indian Education 19(2), pp1-6.
  • Kivunja, C. & Kuyini, A. B. (2017). “Understanding and applying research paradigms in educational contexts”.
    file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/12169-43505-1-PB.pdf Internation Journal of Higher Education: 6 (5).



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