Research Paradigms: Explanation and Examples
  • 4-minute read
  • 1st March 2022

Research Paradigms: Explanation and Examples

Are you planning a research project? If so, you’ll need a research paradigm. But what exactly is a research paradigm, and why is it important? This blog post will cover the following:

●  The definition of a research paradigm

●  Why research paradigms are important

●  Common examples of research paradigms

●  Merging research paradigms

●  Expert editing and proofreading

Read on to find out more or learn about research paradigms in the video below!

The Definition of a Research Paradigm

A research paradigm is a philosophical framework that your research is based on. It offers a pattern of beliefs and understandings from which the theories and practices of your research project operate.

A research paradigm consists of ontology, epistemology, and research methodology.

●  Ontology answers the question: “What is reality?” That is, does a single reality exist within your research? An example of an ontological question would be: “Does God exist?” There are two possible realities (or ontologies) in response to this question: “Yes, God exists,” or “No, God does not exist.”

●  Epistemology is the study of knowledge. It answers the question: “How is it possible to know reality?” Epistemology incorporates the validity, parameters, and methods of acquiring knowledge. An example of an epistemological question would be: “How is it possible to know whether God exists or not?”

●  Research Methodology answers the question: “How do we go about discovering the answer or reality?” This includes the process of data collection and analysis. Research methodology should outline how you conduct your research and demonstrate that the findings are valid.

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Together, ontology and epistemology comprise research philosophy.

Research philosophy combined with research methodology comprises a research paradigm.

Why Are Research Paradigms Important?

Research paradigms are important because they form the philosophical basis of a research project. Research paradigms influence how different schools of learning (such as the sciences versus the humanities) undertake their research. Once a research philosophy has been determined, an appropriate methodology can be chosen.

Furthermore, a knowledge of the philosophical foundation of your research will increase its quality and improve your performance in any analysis you may have to undergo!

Common Examples of Research Paradigms

1. Positivism

Positivists believe that there’s a single reality that’s possible to measure and understand. Because of this, they’re most likely to use quantitative methods in their research. Typically, positivists propose a hypothesis that can be proved or disproved using statistical data analysis. Positivism tends to investigate the existence of a relationship between two variables rather than the reason behind it.

2. Constructivism

Constructivists believe that there’s no single reality or truth, but rather multiple realities. They devote themselves to understanding and interpreting the meaning attached to an action. For this reason, constructivists tend to use qualitative research methods, such as interviews or case studies, which focus on providing different perspectives. Constructivism aims to provide the answer to “why.” For example, asking “Why do 25% of the employees of an organization regularly arrive late to work?” rather than merely establishing the relationship between two variables (e.g., time of arrival at work and availability of nearby parking).

3. Pragmatists

Pragmatists believe that reality is continually interpreted and renegotiated against the backdrop of new and unpredictable situations. Because of this, the philosophy they apply in research depends on the research question itself. Pragmatists often combine positivist and constructivist principles in the same research project, using both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate different components of a research problem. They believe that the optimal research methods are those that most successfully answer the research question.

Merging Research Paradigms

While most social science research operates from either a positivist (experimental) or constructivist paradigm, it’s possible to combine both, as the field of psychology often does. Quantitative and qualitative methodology are frequently used together in psychology, illustrating the subject’s footing in multiple research paradigms (positivist and constructivist).

Test your knowledge of research paradigms by taking this short quiz! Click to start.

Expert Editing and Proofreading

If you’re writing a research proposal or paper, you’ll want to ensure that your writing is error-free, fluent, and precise. Although re-reading your own work is valuable, it can be very helpful to get another opinion on your writing. We offer a free trial of proofreading and editing services when you submit your first document. Find out more today!

Next Up

What Are the 4 Types of Research Paradigms?

Comments (32)
Michael Njobvu
3rd March 2023 at 18:50
I love what has been explained in the research paradigm, it was very helpful for my dissertation.
    10th March 2023 at 15:09
    Thanks, Michael! I'm glad this was useful.
mandie aregash
13th March 2023 at 09:34
than you for your brief concept about paradigm!!! pls write deeply about it and other setions and sub sections of research
    19th March 2023 at 12:14
    Hi, Mandie. You’re very welcome! I’m so glad you found this helpful. We have another article here you might be interested in If you type “research” into the search box on the Writing Tips home page, a good number of related articles come up that you might like too. And keep checking regularly as we are adding new articles all the time!
    14th July 2023 at 21:37
    Thanks for this information,Its quite helpful 👍
Osei Anokye Ernest
18th March 2023 at 21:55
I love this piece of work. It has help me to cut of overthinking concerning my assignment
    19th March 2023 at 12:29
    Thanks, Osei! Really pleased this helped.
Waziri Abdoul
21st March 2023 at 18:23
Wow! your presentation on research paradigm was concise and detailed to the point. Your explanation now gave me a clear and better understanding of research paradigm and methodology. Awesome!
    25th March 2023 at 11:35
    Great, Waziri! You're most welcome!
Esther Kubutu
24th March 2023 at 08:24
Thank you so much for the explanation of Paradigm. Now its clear and straight forward. I hope its going to be useful in this journey of research writing.
    25th March 2023 at 11:37
    Thanks, Esther! Really pleased you found it helpful. It's definitely worth checking our YouTube channel regularly as well as the Proofed Writing Tips blog, as we're adding new academic writing articles all the time.
      Zibusiso Kanye
      25th March 2023 at 13:59
      Thank you so much for the explanation of paradigm. Its clear and straight to the point, my struggles are over now
      31st March 2023 at 10:45
      Hi, Zibusiso. You're most welcome! I'm glad this was helpful :)
Erica. N
29th March 2023 at 09:22
At last my professor sent me this URL!! Thank you for this compact concept!!
    31st March 2023 at 10:47
    You're very welcome, Erica!
Kidanemariam Gidey
29th March 2023 at 16:53
Thank you for your clear and helpfull explanation.
    31st March 2023 at 10:50
    Thanks, Kidanemariam! I'm so pleased this was helpful.
Anne Ainembabazi
11th April 2023 at 10:29
Thank you so much, I feel like I can now do my research in peace. Very good explanations there. Am just wondering what Axiology is because it was given as part of the paradigms in class
    15th April 2023 at 15:05
    You’re welcome, Anne! I’m glad this article was helpful. Axiology, very broadly, is the study of what we value, most particularly when applied to a) the researcher themselves and b) their field of research. It includes ethics and aesthetics. Some researchers place it alongside ontology and epistemology (see our diagram) to comprise the research philosophy.
11th April 2023 at 21:26
this was vey helpful , could you please just give me an example of maybe essay or article that was specific on which paradigm was used.
    15th April 2023 at 15:03
    Hi there! I'm so glad this helped. We have another blog article that goes into more detail and includes a video from our YouTube channel - I hope this is useful :)
atukwatse judith
18th April 2023 at 12:01
This has been the best explanation that has opened my thinking on these concepts. Thanks.
    21st April 2023 at 12:49
    You're very welcome! I'm glad you found this article helpful.
Vanessa Ramos
18th May 2023 at 14:57
Thank you so much for the crystal clear explanation. It was very helpful for my research. One question, please. Should the research paradigm always be stated in the description of the project?
    23rd May 2023 at 13:03
    Hi, Vanessa. You’re very welcome! I’m really pleased you found this article helpful. The answer to your question would depend on your field of study and the guidelines set by your institution, but a research paradigm informs your conceptual framework and your methodology. We have an article on conceptual frameworks (research paradigms are included in the FAQs section) that might be useful -
Eugene Ayongaba
21st May 2023 at 13:47
Thanks so much. The explanation provided on research paradigm is very helpful.
    23rd May 2023 at 10:55
    Thanks, Eugene! Really glad this was helpful.
1st June 2023 at 21:04
i really thank you for more information about research paradigms thanks again
    4th June 2023 at 11:05
    You're most welcome, Waktola!
17th June 2023 at 23:27
Thank you so much for the clear explanation. It helped me a lot.
    Hannah Orde
    5th July 2023 at 09:59
    Glad it was helpful Adisalem!
Kumbani BM
17th August 2023 at 02:25
The information about the paradigm was helpful and has dispelled confusion that i got on the choice of the relevant paradigms.

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