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Research Paradigms

Qualitative Research

Most quantitative research texts
identify three primary types of
Exploratory research on a
concept people or situation
that the researcher !no"s
little a#out$

%escriptive research on a
concept people or situation
that the researcher !no"s
something a#out #ut &ust
"ants to descri#e "hat he'she
has found or o#served$

Explanatory involves testing

a hypothesis and deriving that
hypothesis from availa#le

(enerally these types of studies )t "ithin our
understanding of qualitative and quantitative

Exploratory research involves

qualitative studies
*o#servation intervie"s and
content analysis+

Explanatory research involves

quantitative studies and
hypothesis testing$

%escriptive studies most often

involve quantitative research
techniques or a com#ination of
qualitative and quantitative
*Please note ho"ever that Rossman , Rollis
use the term descriptive to descri#e
some types of qualitative research+

-hen researchers tal! a#out di.erent
approaches to research they tal! a#out

1 paradigm is a /"orldvie"0
or a set of assumptions a#out
ho" things "or!$

Rossman , Rollis de)ne

paradigm as /shared
understandings of reality0

Quantitative and qualitative

research methods involve very
di.erent assumptions a#out
ho" research should #e
conducted and the role of the

%i.erences #et"een
qualitative and quantitative research
o#servation and
content analysis$
4ittle structure
4ittle manipulation
of su#&ects
5a!es a great deal
of time to conduct
4ittle social
distance #et"een
researcher and
surveys testing
and structured
content analysis
intervie"s and
7igh degree of
3ome manipulation
of su#&ects
May ta!e little time
to conduct
Much social
distance #et"een
researcher and

4ets tal! a#out some of the assumptions or values
that are part of qualitative or quantitative
8or example do you thin!:
5hat the /truth0 can #e
determined in every situation9
Can everyone agree on the
-hat evidence do you need to
determine "hat is the truth9

7o" is !no"ledge or truth

1re things true if they are

printed in #oo!s or the

-ho determines the truth9

Can di.erent people hold

di.erent perceptions a#out
"hat is the /truth09

2s an individual:s perception of
the truth determined #y his or
her experiences and
interactions "ith other people9

3hould society change or should
it stay the same9

2s it the researcher:s
responsi#ility to change

6r should the researcher

remain o#&ective or
neutral and only attempt
to )nd ne" !no"ledge9

3hould the researcher:s personal
experiences and values in;uence his or her

2f so ho" does the

researcher prevent
personal #ias from
in;uencing the study9

5o revie" qualitative research is:

3u#&ective di.erent people

can perceive the truth
di.erently$ Qualitative
research attempts to )nd out
ho" people perceive their
lives$ %i.erent people "ill
have di.erent perspectives$
5he researcher:s experiences
#eliefs and values are
incorporated into the research
design and analysis of data$

2n general research #ias is
controlled #y:

<eeping records on the

research process data analysis
and pro#lems encountered$

Conducting research in a
systematic "ay$

2nvolving colleagues and

research participants in
research design and data

=eing /upfront a#out the

researcher:s o"n #eliefs ,

*-e "ill discuss speci)c

techniques later in the course+

Purpose of most qualitative
research is to:

2ncrease !no"ledge of
people or situations that
are not usually studied
*especially the
experiences of "omen
persons of color and
people "ho are often
marginali>ed in society+

Provide information that

can #e used for social

Examples of research often used
for social change:

8eminist research *assumes

"omen are oppressed in
society research is to #e
used to help reduce

Participatory action research

people a.ected #y a social
pro#lem "or! "ith a
researcher to study a pro#lem
collect data analy>e data
ma!e recommendations and
use the results to in;uence
social change$

Rossman , Rollis identify ? di.erent paradigms #ut
the t"o primary paradigms are:
Positivism associated "ith quantitative
research$ 2nvolves hypothesis testing to
o#tain /o#&ective0 truth$ 1lso used to predict
"hat may happen at a future date$ Critical
realism is a su#type of positivism that
incorporates some value assumptions on the
part of the researcher$ 2t involves loo!ing at
po"er in society$ Researchers primarily rely on
quantitative data to do this$
2nterpretivism associated "ith qualitative
research$ @sed to o#tain an understanding of
the "ord from an individual perspective$
Critical 7umanism is a su#type of the
2nterpretive paradigm$ 5he critical humanism
approach is one in "hich the researcher
involves people studied in the research
process$ %ata is used for social change$

5"o terms from the #oo! that "e
should tal! a#out$
Community of practice: People you
"or! and consult "ith in the course
of a study$ 1 community of practice
helps you incorporate other points of
vie" in your "or!$
Re;exivity the relationship #et"een
the research and people #eing
studied$ 5he presence of the
researcher a.ects the people #eing
studies *thin! of the 7a"thorne E.ect
from 3-R< ABCD+$ 5he researcher is
also in;uenced #y the people studied$
Re;exivity in qualitative research
also pertains to the requirement that
the researcher thin! a#out "hat he or
she has found as "ell as the process
of doing research$

5"o other important terms$
Emic the insider:s vie" and voice$
Etic$ 5he outsider:s vie" and voice$
EEEResearchers are most often outsiders
trying to understand a community
group or individuals$ Emic refers to
the vie" of people in the community
or the individuals studied$ 7o"ever
there are di.erent approaches to
qualitative research that vary in the
amount of /social distance0 #et"een
the researcher and people studied$
Fext "ee! "e "ill listen to an
intervie"er "ho #ecame a part of the
community he studiedD

Exercise for 5oday:
2n groups choose an o#&ect "ith
"hich you and your group
mem#ers are familiar *for
example a can of Pepsi+$ 7and
the o#&ect to one person and
as! her to descri#e it in any
"ay she chooses$ Continue
this process "ith four or )ve
people until you run out of
things to say$ 7aving heard
other:s descriptions in "hat
"ay do you see the o#&ect
di.erently$ 7o" have individual
descriptions changed$