Mapping the world's opinions

The term research philosophy refers to a system of beliefs and assumptions about the development of knowledge. In layman’s terms, a research philosophy is the choice a researcher makes on how to pursue his research, consciously or subconsciously. Scholars have identified five of the most prominent research philosophies in academia, however, choosing one is a matter of debate. (main source: Saunders, Mark & Lewis, P & Thornhill, A. (2009). Understanding research philosophies and approaches. Research Methods for Business Students. 4. 106-135.)

Critical Realism

Supporters of critical realism claim that reality is much more than our senses allow us to see, preferring to focus on the bigger picture.

Strives for objectivity

Advances Historical Knowledge

Positivism

Focuses on the observable reality and aims to produce law-like generalisations.

Supports Objectivity

Uses large data samples

Postmodernism

A subjectivist philosophy, that emphasizes the role of language and aims to give voice to alternative or deprecated views.

Innovative

Challenges mainstream theories and may bring about new conclusions Explore

Interpretivism

A subjectivist philosophy that focuses on studying the people and the meanings they create.

Subjective

Focuses on the people and interprets findings though their eyes. Explore

Innovative

May create new, richer understandings and interpretations of social worlds and contexts Explore

Uses smaller data samples

Smaller data samples make research easier to manage Explore

Pragmatism

Rejects the views of the above philosophies and focuses on making scientific progress using a variety of methods.

Practical

Uses a variety of research methods according to the research question. Explore
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