The first year of a PhD usually involves a study of research methods, strategies of inquiry, and epistemological and ontological underpinnings of research.
Our ontology, or better termed worldview (Creswell, 2009), is the lens through which we look at our research problem. Whilst this is inevitably connected to the our individual standpoint and expertise, it also has a lot to do with our chosen field of study and what we want to do with the research. The researcher then decides on what strategies of inquiry to adopt.
John Creswell conveniently divides worldviews into four:
Postpositivism: reductionist, deterministic, and lends itself to Quantitative strategies to research.
Social Constructivism: seek understanding through interaction and engagement and meanings are socially constructed. This ‘lens’ favours more Qualitative approaches to research.
Advocacy/participatory: seek emancipation for particular groups/individuals. The Social Constructivism approach doesn’t go far enough, so the researcher adopts recursive or dialectical methods. This ‘lens’ also favours qualitative strategies.
Pragmatism: arises out of situations and consequences, concerned with context and conditions of the research problem. Naturally, it favours Mixed-Methods strategies.
Categories: PhD Reflections