Table 2

Relationship between research paradigms, perspectives, methodologies and methods.8 9

Ontological and Epistemological DecisionsTheoretical PerspectiveTheoretical Perspective
ParadigmIs there a reality? and how can we go about knowing/beginning to know this reality?What philosophical/Research position should we take?What research techniques are best used to achieve the desired knowledge?
PositivismThere does exists a reality or a truth (realist) that we can access and measure if we use reliable and valid tools.Positivism/ Post Positivism.Quantitative; Experimental and Survey designs, using standardised questionnaires and statistical analyses.
ConstructivistThere is no one single reality/truth. Instead realities are created between individuals. Our interpretation of experience/events enables us to discover underlying meanings.Interpretivism; including Phenomenological (descriptive and interpretive Phenomenology), Hermeneutic and Symbolic Interactionist approaches.Qualitative; interviews, focus groups, observation, Documentary/Narrative/Multimedia Analyses (including Discourse Analyses and Feminist research), Thematic Analyses and inferred Phenomenological (eg, IPA), Grounded Theory and Ethnographic processes. Some Action Research, Complex intervention development and Implementation Science work could also draw on these methodology/methods.
PragmatismReality is the product of different contexts. We understand/ access realities by reconstructing and interpreting them. In doing so, we can then solve problems and bring about change.Pragmatism.Usually involves a mixed method approach (drawing on both quantitative and qualitative methods as above) and often Action Research.
SubjectivismReality exists but is perceived differently, by different individuals/groups.Postmodernism Structuralism Post-structuralism.Discursive approaches; Autoethnography, Documentary/Multimedia/Narrative Analyses
CriticalReality is socially constructed, and related knowledge is influenced by societies and power relationships that exist within.Marxism, Queer Theory, Feminism.Critical Discursive approaches, Critical Ethnography, and Action rResearch. Including focus groups, open ended questionnaires, observations, and documentary analyses.