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How Research Paradigms Improve the Research Process?

Published by at June 13th, 2024 , Revised On July 9, 2024

If you’re planning to write a research paper on a particular topic, then you should set specific criteria. These criteria will help you to successfully structure the approach that will be used in the methodology of your work. To write an outstanding research paper and set efficient criteria, you should understand the concept of the research paradigm.

In this blog, you will get to know about research paradigms, different types of research paradigms, and the importance of those paradigms.

What is the Research Paradigm?

Research paradigms refer to those beliefs and ideologies that efficiently help you to properly structure your research. These paradigms assist the researchers so that they can quickly understand how to implement different theories and practices for their research work.

Research Paradigm Definition

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a search paradigm is defined as “a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which the theories, laws, and generalisations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated”.

In simple words, a research paradigm is a method, model or pattern for conducting research. It is a set of ideas, beliefs, and understandings by using which theories and techniques are implemented for the research process.

Research paradigms are used in the research projects for the creation of research methods and their execution for the leal and appropriate research.

Research Paradigm Example

For example, if you are a medical scientist and want to conduct research on the efficiency of a new drug developed to eradicate cancer cells from the blood. Your research may be based on the premise that there is only one reality. Simply put, your research will allow you to know if the drug would perform better or not.

However, if you want to research the effects of parental literacy rate on the academic research of their children, then the result would not be one-sided. You will have to examine the agenda from different perspectives, such as socio-economical and cultural.

What are the Pillars and Different Types of Paradigms in Research?

Before discussing the different types of paradigms in research, you should also know about the three pillars of research paradigms.

3 Pillars of Research Paradigms

Ontology Ontology is the study of the nature of reality. It asserts that there is either a single reality or none at all. For example, an ontological question might be, “Does God exist?”. There could be two possible realities to the answer to this question, “Yes, God exists” and “No, God doesn’t exist”.
Epistemology Epistemology is the study of how you can understand and know reality. It simply exerts how this particular knowledge is gained and you can prove this. For example, an epistemological question might be, “How is it possible to know whether God exists or not?”.
Methodology Methodology is the study of researchers examining the validity of the information obtained about reality. It focuses on the collection and analysis of data about reality. For example, a methodological question might be, “How to go after you discover if the God exists or not?”.

4 Types of Paradigms in Research

Here are the different types of paradigms in research:

  • Positivist Research Paradigm

According to the positivist research paradigm, there is only one objective reality. People can accurately know about this reality and describe and explain it. Activists significantly obtain knowledge of their surroundings by relying on their observations through their senses.

When there is just one single reality, researchers can efficiently compare it with claims and determine its certainty. Positivists use qualitative research methodology in their research. This research paradigm is mostly used for research in physical sciences and natural sciences because large sample sizes are used in it.

  • Interpretivist Research Paradigm

According to the interpretivists, people experience and understand reality in different ways in our society. In short, there could be only one reality, but everyone interprets it according to their own point of view.

People also tend to believe that the theories and worldviews of the researchers heavily influence research all around the world. Interpretivists use qualitative research methodology. This includes interviews, focus groups, document collection, etc.

  • Critical Theory Research Paradigm

According to the critical theory paradigm, social science can never be one hundred percent objective. This paradigm is mainly focused on achieving societal change through thorough scientific investigation.

The objective of critical theorists is to ask questions about knowledge and procedure to know how power is being used in investigating. They aim to create an egiilitarian society for all the individuals with their freedom. Critical theorists use both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

  • Constructivist Research Paradigm

In this paradigm, constructivists believe that reality is the construct of our minds. It is better to assume that reality is subjective. According to constructivists, knowledge comes from individual experiences and the reflections of those experiences.

Constructivists only use qualitative research methodology. There is only a single methodology to generate knowledge according to this paradigm. The constructivists mainly focus on the subjective experiences of the participants as well as of their own.

Difference Between Research Philosophy & Research Paradigm

Research Philosophy Research Paradigm
It is the belief and set of assumptions about the development of knowledge. It is a broader term that includes philosophy as well as methodology, strategies and tools.
Its components are ontology and epistemology. Common research paradigms are positivism, interpretivism and critical theory.
It helps in choosing the research paradigm and related methodology. It helps to structure research and different aspects of data collection and analysis.

Importance of Paradigms in Research

The research paradigms significantly help to establish the foundation of research and its methodologies. They thoroughly examine and investigate how information is researched and understood. They specifically encompass the objectives, motives and predicted results of the research.

When research paradigms are perfectly implemented, then the researchers can have a clear path to research their desired topics. They ensure high quality and proficiency in work. Some of the important terms related to research paradigms are discussed below:

What is Axiology?

Axiology refers to the branch of philosophy that deals with value judgements. It deals with the understanding of researchers about their values and role in the research process. Axiology is subdivided into ethics and aesthetics. Axiology compels the researcher to assume these questions:

  • Which ethical principles should be used in the research?
  • What should be done to respect the rights of each and every participant?

Critical Realism in Research

Critical realism refers to the branch of philosophy that differentiates between the real world and the observable world. The real world cannot be truly observed. It exists independently of the viewpoints of humans. The world is constructed through the perspective of humans and their experiences. Critical realism helps to enhance the research questions by accomplishing the complexity and context of social phenomena.

Feminist Paradigm in Research

This paradigm deals with and is specifically concerned with the oppression and exclusion of women in society. It also throws light on the struggles and insights of the oppressed and disempowered groups of society.

This paradigm leads to the construction of different ways to alleviate and empower those oppressed and disempowered groups. It also focuses on improving social policies for the betterment of society.

Functionalist Paradigm in Research

According to the functionalist paradigm, anything that exists in the society plays an important role to create social stability. Any person or institution that will not play its part will simply not survive.

Functionalism efficiently interprets how every part of the society contributes to the stability of the whole society. If anything becomes absent from it, whether any individual or an institution will significantly influence the performance of the community as a whole.

Research Paradigms for Mixed-Methods

Mixed-methods research has gained immense popularity in the field of social research during the past 20-25 years. This research is motivated by practical considerations rather than philosophical ones. It mainly focuses on what is achievable, what is useful, and what is most likely to get funded.

Quantitative research can provide researchers with a bigger picture by using numeric data and help them understand what has happened. Qualitative research deals with a deep understanding of the stories and experiences of different individuals. When these methods are combined, the best results can be obtained.

Difference Between Research Paradigm & Research Design

Research Paradigm Research Design
Scope It is an extensive philosophical and methodological framework of the whole research process. It deals with the specific strategy to conduct the research plan.
Purpose Helps to establish assumptions and principles of the research process. Includes all the practical steps and techniques to conduct the research when the paradigm is selected.
Components Includes assumptions, theocratical orientation and methodologies. Includes decisions about the research methods, techniques and procedures.

Research Paradigm Examples

Here are a few examples of research paradigms to thoroughly understand their concept:

Example 1: Pragmatism

Imagine an organisation is striving to reduce Type 2 diabetes in a low-income neighbourhood. They use a pragmatic approach to efficiently reduce Type 2 diabetes in the specific community. 

  • They will use the mixed-methods research (both quantitative and qualitative).
  • They will develop necessary interventions by introducing workshops about nutrition and diet.
  • They will gather feedback from the participants to improve their approach. 

Example 2: Positivism

Imagine a pharmaceutical company that wants to develop a specific medicine to treat hypertension. They will use a positivist approach to go through this process. 

  • They will formulate the necessary hypothesis focusing on the effectiveness of the new medicine compared to the old one.
  • They will use a gold-standard positivist method for medical research.
  • A quantitative data collection method will be used to collect blood pressure readings.
  • A statistical analysis will be done to compare treatment and blood groups.
  • They will analyse the results to study whether the new medicine is better than the old or not. 

Frequently Asked Questions

A research paradigm is a method, model, or pattern used to conduct research. It is a set of ideas, beliefs, and understandings using which theories and techniques are implemented for the research process.

Different types of research paradigms are given below:

  • Positivist Research Paradigm
  • Interpretivist Research Paradigm
  • Critical Theory Research Paradigm

According to the positivist research paradigm, there is only one objective reality. People can accurately know about this reality and describe and explain it. Activists significantly obtain knowledge of their surroundings by relying on their observations through their senses.

About Alvin Nicolas

Avatar for Alvin NicolasNicolas has a master's degree in literature and a PhD degree in statistics. He is a content manager at ResearchProspect. He loves to write, cook and run. Nicolas is passionate about helping students at all levels.