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    As I’m hoping to start a PhD in the autumn after I finish my MSc (part-time basis), I’m interested in finding out about approaches to research.  I’ve described myself as a pragmatist in my dissertation and I’m now realising that it fits rather well with mixed methods and confirms my initial reservations about the apparent absolute split between quantitative and qualitative methods. 


    If anyone’s interested in exploring research paradigms/philosophy, perhaps we could have a discussion here?

    Mehdi Riazi

    Hi Linda,

    Good to know about your study and your interest in research approaches and welcome to the community of MM researchers. Discussion of research paradigms will be informative at a philosophical level and thus beneficial if we are really concerned about the philosophical underpinnings of the paradigms: they way they define reality (phenomena), the theory of knowledge (what is legitimate knowledge), and the methods that can materialize the conceptions of reality and knowledge. There has been hot debates on these topics resulted in the past even as paradgim war with accusations from each camp. Recently, fortunately the harsh debates have been replaced with more reconcillation dialogues recognizing that any research approach has its own merits and drawbacks and that the choice of approach and consequently the method higly depends on the research question we pose and the purpose we follow in conducting the research project.


    Interestingly enough while each paradigm has its own proponents (and probably still opponents!) and therefore research trend, we’re witnessing that the community of those who are more interested in embracing both paradigms and implementing MMR is rapidly increasing. My personal observation is that MMR has been in use for a long time (probably more than a quarter), but with the recent advancement of the knowledge base on MMR and the systematicity this new paradigm is achieving, MMR is on its way to becoming a full-fledged and appreciated research approach.


    In practice, I don’t see myself, e.g., not embarking on a quant or qual research just because philosophically and/or epestimologically I’ll be wrong faced. I look at which paradigm and method fulfills my need in finding answers to my questions and that the answers could be justified within their paradigmatic boundaries. The advantage of MMR has been for me to substantiate or complement my answers to my questions with different approaches thus more evidence and ultimately more validity for my findings, if I can say.



    Hi Linda

    First of all, wish you good luck for your research endeavor.

    Before you go, please have a basic understanding of two methods of reasoning namely, deductive and inductive.

    I don’t know how much it will fit into science research, but I am sure that it will bring  a clear understanding of how to move with your research.


    Dr Hareesh N Ramanathan

    Brian Hardy

    Hi Linda, well I am at the opposite end of the research process, trying to finish my thesis off. What I found perplexing about this research paradigm debate, was in fact that it was taking place at all. I am coming back to university research after being away for along time, and what I found helpful was C Wright Mills ideas of relevance and context because they helped indicate what research methods would be best in seeking to answer the questions asked. Essentially a pragmatic approach, so yes some 1500 questionnaires were completed together with 10 hours of interviews. However in doing some 4 chapters of literature review, the material gathered for that had to have some original work done, finding missing figures and suggested answers to issues/problems that were evident and that in turn impinged on the ‘research questions’. So actually various research methods were need to understand the issues and the answers



    Hi Linda,


    I would recommend you to read Danermark et al.’s “Explaining Society”, a book that illuminated me in thinking about combining different research methods and paradigms. I think it is useful for everyone starting serious social research, whether he/she is committed to Pragmatism or Critical Realism or something else.





    Steffen, Thank you for the reference.  I’ve found the book on Amazon.

    Brian, C Wright Mills seems to have written several books, at least. Is there a particular one that you’d recommend?

    Hareesh and Medhi, Thank you for your comments.  

    Does MMR fit with or into any other research paradigms?


    Thank you for all your replies and for not doing so sooner.  I’ve been busy finalising my MSc dissertation which I’ll submit next week.  So now I’m trying to do some background reading, pending starting my PhD in September. 


    Ae there any other books or thinkers that you would suggest that I would benefit from reading? 




    I have a question:  I am preparing some materials for PhD students on mixed methods and I have used a philosophical framework of ontology, epistemology, methodology and axiology for qualitative (positivist/postpostivist and interpretive approaches in previous materials.  I am familiar with the philosophical approach of pragmatism in mixed methods, but does anyone have a good statement on ontology and epistemology?




    thanks for this Dave

    We must have telepathy.  I found the article you attached right after posting the quesiton.  I have’t fully read it yet, but it looks like a good paper. 


    Jack Willis

    I’ve benefited from reading Ray Pawson & Nick Tilley’s work on realist evaluation. Their 1997 book, Realitic Evaluation; Pawson’s 2006 SAGE publication, Evidence-based policy: A realist perspective; and a short 2004 piece further refines their ideas (

    In this latter, they point out that

    • Programs are theories, or “conjectures,” as Popper would say
    • Programs are embedded in social systems. “… programme resources can be the spur promoting change, but whether and to what extent that transformation will hold is contingent on the social circumstances of that person.” (p 4)
    • Programs are active. “The triggers of change in most interventions are ultimately located in the reasoning and resources of those touched by the programme. Effects are thus generally produced by and require the active engagement of individuals.” (p 5)
    • Programs are open systems. “Programmes cannot be fully isolated or kept constant. Unanticipated events, political change, personnel moves, physical and technological shifts, inter-programme and intra-programme interactions, practitioner learning, media coverage, organizational imperatives, performance management innovations and so on make programmes permeable and plastic.” (p 5)

    Before I leave, I must add one more source: Nigel and Jane Fielding and their 1986 Linking Data in SAGE’s Qualitative Research Methods series. They introduced me to the concept of the “generic frame.” Such a frame ties data analyses together in more like a cable used in suspension bridges than a chain. Such a cable is composed of smaller cables which are, in turn, composed of smaller wires. The idea is that a wire or even a small internal cable may break without the whole cable breaking and the bridge falling; whereas a chain is as risky as its weakest link.

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