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Research Paradigms and Assumptions of Understanding

Research Paradigms and Assumptions of Understanding

Assumptions Questions Quantitative Qualitative
Ontological What is the nature of reality? Reality is objective and singular, apart from the researcher. Reality is subjective and multiple as seen by participants in a study.
Epistemological What is the relationship of the researcher to that researched? Researcher is independent from that being researched. Researcher interacts with that being researched.
Axiological What is the role of values? Value-free and unbiased. Value-laden and biased.
Rhetorical What is the language of research? Formal

Based on set definitions

Impersonal voices

Use of accepted quantitative words


Evolving decisions

Personal voice

Accepted qualitative words

Methodological What is the process of research? Deductive process

Cause and effect

Static design-categories isolated before study


Generalizations leading to prediction, explanation, and understanding

Accurate and reliable through validity and reliability


Inductive process

Mutual simultaneous shaping of factors

Emerging design-categories identified during research process

Context bound

Patterns, theories developed for understanding

Accurate and reliable through verification

Adapted from Table 1.1 Quantitative and Qualitative Paradigm Assumptions (Creswell, 1994, pp.5)

Lofland (2006) in Chapter 1, Starting Where You Are explained there are three possibilities of starting point of a researcher to commence a research. The possible start point are:

  1. Personal experience and biography, in which researchers may start a research from their personal experience (such as job, physical mishap, the development loss-maintenance of an intimate relationship, illness, enjoyed activity and living arrangement) and biography of themselves and others.
  2. Intellectual curiosity, as a powerful motivator of research that academic interests an ideas can move the researcher to fieldwork just as experiential factors can.
  3. Tradition and justification, in which a research starts from where a researcher provided with the necessary meaningful linkages between the personal and emotional on the one hand, and the stringent intellectual operations to come on the other.

Babbie (2005) explain paradigm as a model or framework for observation and understanding, which shapes both what we see and how we understand it.

There are two paradigms of methodology of research we can use to look into certain subject in the research. As explained by Creswell (1994) that the paradigms are:

  1. Quantitative that comes from an empiricist tradition established by the authorities, also termed as traditional, positivist, experimental or empiricist paradigm.
  2. Qualitative which began as a countermovement to the positivist tradition in the late 19th century then its known as well as constructivist approach or naturalistic, interpretative approach or post-positivist / postmodernism perspective.


Babbie, Earl. 2005. The Basic of Social Research. Thomson Learning, Inc. Wadsworth

Creswell, John W. 1994. Research Design: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. SAGE Publications, Inc.Thousand Oaks

Lofland, John, David A. Snow, Leon Anderson, and Lyn H. Lofland. 2006. Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis. Thomson Learning. Belmont, USA

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