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What are the most suitable research philosophies in academic research?

The term research philosophy refers to a system of beliefs and assumptions about the development of knowledge. In layman’s terms, a research philosophy is the choice a researcher makes on how to pursue his research, consciously or subconsciously. Scholars have identified five of the most prominent research philosophies in academia, however, choosing one is a matter of debate. (main source: Saunders, Mark & Lewis, P & Thornhill, A. (2009). Understanding research philosophies and approaches. Research Methods for Business Students. 4. 106-135.)
Education , Ethics , Philosophy , Science

Critical Realism

Supporters of critical realism claim that reality is much more than our senses allow us to see, preferring to focus on the bigger picture.

Strives for objectivity

Advances Historical Knowledge


Focuses on the observable reality and aims to produce law-like generalisations.

Supports Objectivity

Uses large data samples


A subjectivist philosophy, that emphasizes the role of language and aims to give voice to alternative or deprecated views.


Challenges mainstream theories and may bring about new conclusions Explore


A subjectivist philosophy that focuses on studying the people and the meanings they create.


Focuses on the people and interprets findings though their eyes. Explore


May create new, richer understandings and interpretations of social worlds and contexts Explore

Uses smaller data samples

Smaller data samples make research easier to manage Explore


Rejects the views of the above philosophies and focuses on making scientific progress using a variety of methods.


Uses a variety of research methods according to the research question. Explore
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 10 Sep 2019 at 21:32 UTC