Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Research Paradigm: Does it matter?

To those who is doing PhD in a 'traditional' way (where you need to produce a research report at the end of the day), understanding research paradigm could be a great help in ensuring that you are on the right track. Things might not be that complicated for people yang buat pure quantitative or pure qualitative research. However, things may go beyond expectation if you are applying a mixed-method approach. I think as a researcher we should be able to say it loud and clear about our chosen ontology, epistemology and methodology, because these will determine our 'mazhab' in our research.

It is common for us to hear people claiming that they are applying phenomenological paradigm. The reality is that phenomenology is not a research paradigm. Phenomenology is one of the sociological perspectives (interpretive inquiry) which we could apply if we are applying constructivist ontology. There are at least four common sociological perspectives: 1) ethnography, 2)ethnomethodology, 3)Phenomenology, 4) Symbolic interactionism. Phenomenology and symbolic interactionism are the two most common sociological perspectives in social science research. The two basic classifications of research paradigm are the scientific and humanistic paradigms.

Another issue is that when a researcher decide to do a mixed method approach, he/she should be cleared on which type of mixed-method he/she would like to apply. The two common types are the 'linked' and the 'embedded'. This is important because normally as a PhD student we do not have enough time to complete the research if we would like to apply the 'pure mixed method' (combining exactly the quantitative & qualitative studies).

For instance, to make your research doable within the time limit, you may want to apply a positivist ontology, empirical epistemology and applying the linked mixed-method. In this case, you may want to put more weight on your quantitative part compared to the qualitative part. You may only want to triangulate your quantitive results with the qualitative findings. A clear understanding on the type of mixed method will also guide your report writing. For example, if you are applying the linked mixed method, synthesising of your findings probably become a 'must write' chapter or section before jumping to your discussion chapter. This might not be the case for the 'embedded mixed method'.

Pendek cerita, banyak benda yg bole diselesaikan kalau researcher put a little bit more effort to clearly understand research paradigm. Kita tak nak buang masa collect 1000 respondents for our survey and buat in depth interview plak untuk 1000 org or buat 3,4 case studies plak kalau apa yg nak dibuat hanyalah linked mixed method with the objective to triangulate the findings.... Masa itu emas babe! especially kepada pelajar tajaan. Apa apa pun...tepuk dada tanya selera!!


Anonymous said...

This is extremely helpful. Thanks for the clarification.

mulan said...

Sharing is caring....heee

mulan said...
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