Paradigm in Social Science Research: Definition?

Research is an objective, systematic and scientific method of investigating a phenomenon or a subject of interest, with a view to finding solutions to the research problem. The main aim of research is to produce new knowledge or add to the already existing knowledge. The way the researcher goes about the research process is highly influenced by the researchers’ paradigm. A paradigm is a set of belief that guides researchers’ action while conducting research/ or seeking answers to the research problem. According to Schwandt (2001), a paradigm is a shared world view that represents the beliefs and values guiding how problems are solved within a discipline. Generally, a paradigm is a way of viewing the world; in research we call this world empirical because it needs to be measurable and is observable among other characteristics. The world view (paradigm) the researcher chooses affects the problem we choose to investigate and how we shall go about investigating the problem. This is because every researcher has an opinion about what is truth and knowledge, and this affects our thinking, beliefs and assumptions that we make about the world, the society and ourselves. For instance, our view on what is “quality education” will dictate the kind of schools we enroll our children in; our view on “good customer service” will dictate the type of supermarket we shop in. These two examples serve to show that as human beings, we hold on to some views (which may not be held by your neighbor) and these views affect our social life. In the same vein, the views researchers hold concerning the empirical world affects how they conduct research. These world views are what we call paradigms. Components of a Paradigm Research paradigms are characterized by their ontology, epistemology, axiology and methodology. These components make up the different paradigms and determine how a researcher views and addresses a research problem or a social phenomenon. These four components make together the 4 paradigms that are used in social science research. These are positivism, constructivism/Interpretivism, emancipatory and pragmatism

Understanding the Concept of Research

What is Research? Any word that has a prefix “re” tells the reader that there is a repletion of something, meaning, that activity had been done and its being repeated or redone again. In the same vein, the term research then tells us that there was a search that had been carried out and a repeat is being done again. Therefore, to research is to Re-search, there is a repetition of a search? What are we searching? In the world or the society, we live in, there were problems, there are problems and there will be problems. These are problems that affect our livelihoods, affect our environment, affect and influence our political and social life. If these problems are left un answered then the lacunae will always exist. There will always be a disequilibrium between what ought to be (in the society) and what is now (the present state). Research comes in as the main dependable and authentic discipline to search for answers these problems. Research helps us to acquire more knowledge to the problem. Problem? What do you mean by the problem? It is important to clarify that the problem we are talking about is the gap between what is in literature and what the researcher would want to know. For example, when a researcher wants to investigate the difference in academic performance between online students and face to face students in an institution of higher learning, the question that one needs to ask is, what is the issue here? In other words, what is the problem. At a glance, the main issue or what is nagging this researcher is the no significant phenomena (from literature) i.e. is there a parity in academic performance of students in online and face to face? When these students are released in the job market, do they exhibit “similar qualification” or one is more superior than the other? These may be some of the questions that are nagging this researcher to a point of wanting to find out, what does literature say about academic performance of online and face to face students? Does this hold in my institution? So, this gap between what is literature and what the researcher wants to know is what is refereed to as a research problem (we shall discuss more of the research problems in our coming blogs). Like we have mentioned earlier, it is only research that will yield credible, valid and reliable data that will provide answers to these questions (in research there are called research questions). How then can we define Research? Many scholars have tried to come up with different definitions to avoid copying from each other. In very simple terms research is the search for knowledge regarding a phenomenon. A phenomenon is an object of investigation; it is that this that you want to investigate. In this blog, we define research as an objective, systematic and scientific investigation of problem through collection, analyses and interpretation of data in order to gain understanding about phenomena. Facts about Research There are three important facts about research: Characteristics of Research Purpose of Research The sole purpose of research is to explore, describe and explain phenomena.