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Research Paradigm and Nature of Reality

What is the relationship between research paradigm and the nature of reality, values, and beliefs? A research paradigm can only be understood if we know about the values and beliefs that make it. These values and beliefs give way to a methodology that help us solve world problems. These values and beliefs also form a shared world view that is called a research paradigm. However, a researcher can use any of the research paradigm to follow through the research. The researcher must decide about the research paradigm after looking at the research constraints, resources, and other requirements.

Many students begin their research without understanding of the research paradigm and its relationship to the nature of reality. Without having a proper understanding of it you cannot decide about the right methodology for your research. They are familiar with the term methodology or methods, but they are often confused between both. The other terms or components related to research paradigm are equally important to understand.

There are four components of a research paradigm: ontology, epistemology, methodology, and methods. As a student, first, you should know about the philosophical viewpoint that make each research paradigm. Next, you should know the components of research paradigm. Lastly, you should know what are the characteristics of each components in each paradigm. This will help you understand and decide about the research paradigm that you should follow in your research. Here, in this article we will understand each of the components and their significance in a research paradigm.

Ontology

Ontology is the foundation of the research paradigm, it is the nature of reality. It defines a research paradigm and explains how and in what direction the answers to the research question one can find. It also explains what kind of reality exists: is there a single reality, or, there are multiple constructed realities.

In positivism, the researcher believe that there is a single reality or truth that one can find with research. On the other hand, in social science paradigms like, post-positivism the researchers believe there can be multiple realities. And, the reality is something that is dependent on the perception and experiences of the persons involved. Ontology therefore, defines and paves a path to find answers to the research question.

It is therefore, very important that the researcher understands what is the best direction. In the absence of understanding the research ontology the researcher cannot decide about the right research methodology.

Epistemology

An ontological viewpoint leads to deciding about the research epistemology. Epistemology tells how and what approach can help a researcher lead to find the truth. Ontology and epistemology both are the essence of a research paradigm. Therefore, one cannot jump to decide about the research methodology without understanding these two.

The researcher must first decide about the right epistemological viewpoints. In case of positivism or single reality the researcher will use objectivity to find the truth. On the other hand, if the nature of reality is multiple and socially constructed the researcher will find the answers to the research problem subjectively.

Methodology

The research methodology makes it possible for the researcher to practically undertake the research in a given direction. Once the researcher decides about the ontological and epistemological viewpoints for the research the next step is lay out a plan to undertake that research. This lay out or plan is the methodology of the research.

It explains in detail about the type of data involved in the research. Also, what type of data collection tools and techniques the researcher will use. Methodology is a written plan that the researcher provides in the research manuscript. All the researchers involved in the should know and have excess to this written methodology. The researchers need the research methodology time-to-time during the research.

Methods

The methods in the research paradigm involve particular data collection tools that a researcher can use. The data collection tools may include any of the following: open-ended questionnaire, face-to-face interviews, participant observations, experiments etc. The above mentioned tools are just examples of the many available research tools.

As far as the choice of research methods is concerned the researcher should know the broad differences between different research paradigms. For example, positivism is base don objective inquiry, validity, reliability, generalizability, and rigor. So, the method adopted by the researcher must comply with the demands of positivism. On the other hand, interpretivism is based on multiple realities and socially constructed values and beliefs. Interpretivists look at the qualities like generalizability, validity, and reliability in a different light. Therefore, the researcher can adopt a method accordingly.

The researcher can follow one research paradigm in the research but there are many types of methodologies or methods that he can use in it. A single research paradigm does not bound the researcher to use a particular methodology or methods. Also, the nature of research problem is the nature of reality that help the researcher understand what methodology is best suitable.

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