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The research paradigm – methodology, epistemology and ontology – explained in simple language

❶It is the contact with "others," sharing their time, situations, relationships, hopes, achievements, and misfortunes that makes us modify our ways of knowing. Let me give you an example of an interview based research that is constructivist:.




Ontology and Epistemology are words very commonly used within academia, and although they can seem daunting when first encountered, their meaning for NLP research is simple. The choice of view in the research field is linked with the preferences of the researcher and the varieties and validities of the knowledge currently applied within NLP research. Some initial enquiries to probe, include;. NLP is not an exclusive study so it helps to understand the possibilities for further exploration so as to have the best possible background for making decisions about the approach.

It is important to remember that Research Design and Research Methods are different and will be discussed later in this series. Something is going on which we refer to as the phenomenal flow Jankowicz, and what some of us choose to explore depends on our own ontological position.

Others may disagree and choose something else. It is useful to note here that phenomenology can be confusingly used both to define a philosophical approach and also as a methodology Denzin and Lincoln, Bryman talks about an organisation as a tangible object, with rules, regulations and procedures, with people appointed to different jobs under a division of labour with a hierarchy, mission statement etc.

He suggests that the organisation has a reality which is external to those within in and it represents a social order that requires individuals to conform to the rules and regulations. It is a restraining force that both acts on and inhibits its members. Bryman also suggests that the same is true of culture, which can be seen as a collection of shared values and customs into which people are socialized to conform.

In essence, positivism says that social phenomena have an existence that is independent or separate from the actors within it. Examples of this are Virgin or GEC where the CEO Branson or Welch have clearly defined the cultural norms albeit in very different ways and new employees conform very quickly because the culture is so strong and dictated by charismatic leaders who are aligned with their strong brand. Truth only happens in the moment. He goes on to give the example that human beings construct the organisation and the culture instead of the organisation and culture being pre-given categories which affect behaviours.

This will often happen with start up companies where the culture evolves as the organisation grows and the product or service develops. Often this development is aligned to the intellectual and experiential growth of the founding team.

Microsoft and Apple where the leaders have empowered their teams and the organic internal growth evolves the brand and therefore could cause it to be more enduring and of course this is my experience and may not be true!

The Epistemology is about the information that counts as acceptable knowledge in NLP and how it should be acquired and interpreted. The two Ontological positions point to two of the main distinctions in the Epistemology of research in NLP ;. Positivism does not allow for the subjective opinions of the researcher as the approach deals with verifiable observations and measurable relations between those observations, not with speculation and conjecture. It is therefore the more scientific perspective with no room here for the subjective opinions of the researcher as the approach deals with verifiable observations and measurable relations between them, not with speculation and conjecture.

The Interpretivist approach however, rejects absolute facts and suggests that facts are based on perception rather than objective truth. With this approach, the conclusions are derived from the interpretations of the participants rather than the abstract theories of the researcher or scientist. This means there is a challenge to understand the meanings that individuals and teams attach to their activities. There are no Universal laws or experiences as the world is always being developed and re-developed by reflective, thinking, feeling beings who are able to make a difference to their environment and the focus is usually on meaning and perceived realities rather than facts.

The researcher will often need to get some specialist knowledge in order to understand the meanings, values and contexts of their subjects e. Easterby-Smith, Thorpe et al. Which research questions might be best answered using each epistemological approach? There are implications for the researcher from both the Positivist and the Interpretivist approaches.

In this way, while studies based on this epistemology, that is, on the different paradigms that operate in social sciences, were interested in marking the differences between individuals and groups by classifying and ranking them according to those concurrent differences, the Epistemology of the Known Subject understands that those differences make up exclusively the existential aspect of identity and that singling them out must, inevitably, be accompanied by the indication of the essential, common aspect of that identity 2.

Acceptance of the principle of essential equality is a necessary condition for cognitive interaction to take place in the research process, and without that interaction cooperative knowledge construction cannot occur. The path of epistemological reflection leads us, in this way, first from the object to the subject and then from the different subject to the same, but different subject or, what amount to the same, from the existential component to the two components of identity.

In other words, it leads us from the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject to the Epistemology of the Known Subject and from the latter to meta-epistemology, because both identity components must be known without either of them being left out. For the Epistemology of the Known Subject the relationship between this subject and the knowing person is egalitarian.

This statement represents a challenge to the traditional ways of knowing since for them knowers know insofar as they apply the rules, notions and strategies of the so called "scientific knowledge.

If this is so, how can the participant actors prevent his identity from being denied, distorted, or ignored? The danger of such technical versions is that they may, inadvertently, reinforce and uphold some actors' world views and overshadow others'.

In this fashion, social researchers have to consider the consequences that their theoretical background, which take certain descriptive social categories for granted, may bring about.

Thus, from the perspective of the Epistemology of the Known Subject, questions such as the following could be asked: Likewise, accepting the current value of certain theories that "'establish' the relevance of class, gender, race, etc. So, names construct and reify human bonds and social divisions, are rooted in actions and give rise to specific practices CHARMAZ, , p.

So, it is necessary to ask oneself how stereotypes constructed around the research participant actors influence their identity, their capacity for action and decision. These stereotypes are constructed following scientific knowledge instructions that lead into grouping the similar within the different and into categorizing, then ranking, assessing those differences in relation to an order which is, later on, reproduced in daily interaction. A serious reflection on such aspects enables the avoidance of the ontological distortion of those actors' identity.

Consequently, people who carry out an inquiry in which some "other" participates will have to question themselves on who they want to know, what they think they know about that person, on the origin of that knowledge— for instance, academic, experiential, the mass media—and, very particularly, on the place, the value, and the relevance they will assign to the knowledge with which that person provides them.

Given the egalitarian relationship between the knower and the known, the new ways of knowing proposed by the Epistemology of the Known Subject are not those characteristic of the knowing subject, but of both subjects in cognitive interaction. Because the common identity component determines that those two subjects have the same capacity for knowing, it is the knowledge arising from that shared capacity that acquires pre-eminence.

There will be specific, technical, particular knowledge some may be lacking in, but there is, besides, knowledge shared by everyone alike. For example, that which enables people to know they are equal in essential identity to other people and, therefore, in dignity, or that constitutes grounds for people's reluctance to let their identity be distorted.

Were this not so, the unfairness deriving from disregarding that equality could hardly be recognized. What brings the knowing and the known subjects together in cognitive interaction, in which they are identical, is what makes communication possible.

It is the contact with "others," sharing their time, situations, relationships, hopes, achievements, and misfortunes that makes us modify our ways of knowing.

But especially, what changes them is attentive listening in the certainty that what is conveyed to us as their truths are no less important than ours. Only the mark of humility in dialogue that heeds "affinities or similarities, as well as alterity or differences" SAUKKO, , p.

If the researcher considers them different, belittled in their capacity and ways of knowing, he will not be able to find that he is identical to each one and in that identity, in that sameness, find himself. So, new ways of knowing entail knowing through what is common in identity, through shared identity, through its essential component. On that account, ontological considerations come before epistemological and methodological ones.

That is why we must deal with the question about who is known before the one about how it is known. That is why it is necessary to ask ourselves what identity of the known subjects is being assumed, what concepts they are being approached through and to what theories, set in which paradigms, those concepts belong.

It is not about simply establishing theory limits, what is to be considered is the being's unlimited nature shown in communication. Hence the openness of the listeners, of the receivers. Hence the need for acknowledgment of their own biases, their own deficiencies, but, at the same time, of that shared element which enables both to "understand each other.

Knowing through theories may, therefore, jeopardize communication and the egalitarian relationship, because no hierarchy, rank, order, privilege, or subordination taken as true in these theories or outside their scope should mediate the link between the knower and the known. Notions, concepts, and explanations provided by theories prove, many times, to be vacuous, hollow, inert, or dumb faced in respect of the utterances with which women and men narrate their existential vicissitudes and causally link different events, in turn creating theory themselves.

Qualitative research is nourished, mostly, by the different nature of the information provided by the people participating in the inquiry. Resorting to the knowledge of "others" and the validity of the collected data is usual practice in social sciences, whether taken, for example, from surveys or interviews. This situation talks about a feature of the knowledge process which the Epistemology of the Known Subjects highlights: Knowledge that subjects know with and know "themselves" as equals in cognitive interaction with is not limited to the existential aspect of identity, nor to the human beings' work, relationships, expressions, or productions.

Based on what people have in common, that is, on essential identity, this kind of knowledge empowers, makes human communication possible and this is the case because it expresses and interprets the two identity components at a time. Consolidated ways of knowing, focusing on the subject that knows, have given priority to existential characteristics of identity, laying the stress on what is factual, observable, accessible to sensitive register and which has a validity that can be proved.

However, what would be the sense of coming up to people with questions inquiring about what can be apprehended by simply resorting to observation? What the Epistemology of the Known Subject is about, then, is recognizing the limitations of those traditional ways of knowing and showing the need for the open-mindedness of the researcher to the plenitude of what can be perceived in a different way.

Communication between subjects of cognitive interaction is, thus, a suitable means to express the essential and existential components of identity, or what amounts to the same, to show, at the same time, what a person is equal to all the others in, that is, his "shared humanity" ANGEN, , p.

Facing a researcher is, then, not a different "other," but an equal "other," but also different from the ones who understand, for they share the same humanity. He is one and the same with him or with her, and in that being the same, all distance, hiatus, and separation, which, in a moment, were the conditions for the objectivity of knowledge are surmounted.

If in such communication a researcher is not grounded in the essential dimension of identity, as is the case in the usual ways of knowing, he is bound to construct the human beings he interacts with according to the measure of observable objects and, although he may question them when external observation is not enough, he is also likely to register the differences rather than the common features that identify him with the others, since the difference is, in general, what he has become used to perceiving on approaching the "others.

Without the acceptance of the common component of identity, neither cognitive interaction nor cooperative knowledge construction will be possible, and hopes, needs, claims, questions and proposals of those "others" will hardly be understood.

Simply because, as is usual, their actions are not liable to interpretation through the common dignity bringing both subjects of cognitive interaction together, but through the alleged difference separating them.

When those differences are not tolerated and are marked as significant where essential equality should have been stressed, that is, when those differences become essential, scientific knowledge appears to be contributing to the strengthening of discriminatory processes. An example of this is when poverty is associated with crime, or unemployment to a lack of suitable capacity to meet market requirements, reproducing, in this way, the deterministic model of natural sciences and, consequently, taking for granted causal relationships prescribed by general laws that are supposed to enable prediction and phenomena control.

Acknowledgment of the common-union of subjects of cognitive interaction characterizes the Epistemology of the Known Subject: In such interaction, as stated, two subjects, essentially equal, make different contributions derived from their same capacity of knowing and their own biography, circumstances, struggles and achievements of their own existence. Validity of knowledge resulting from cooperative construction does not therefore match that of the so called scientific knowledge, because it is not its norms, rules, directions, and methods that must be applied, followed, and obeyed to enable that construction.

The attained knowledge, being of a different nature, lies in a different legitimacy, a legitimacy conferring a scope, depth, development, magnitude of its own.

That kind of knowledge, to be valid, must account for the two components of identity at the same time, that is, focusing on what is common to all, it must be able to display the differences without essentializing them and without turning them into the axis of cognitive interaction.

Such differences constitute nonessential features that do not represent people's integrity nor do they have any bearing on their dignity. Would extolling the differences to the detriment of equality not enable those self-appointed "knowers" the use of an advantage given by those differences which, in part, they have contributed to consolidate?

Likewise, does acknowledging the equal knowing capacity, common to all human beings, not jeopardize the foundation of the pedestal that so called "science" stands on? However, does questioning that equal capacity for knowing not attack the validity of the produced knowledge as a consequence of resorting to the information "others" provide us with?

Why should we collect their stories? Why should we ask them about the meaning they assign to their actions? Why should we appeal to them to understand the situations they live in, the processes they go through?

On the other hand, even from the assumption of attempting theory creation, researchers frequently resort to the current theories of different disciplines, first to lead their research question and then to be assisted in data interpretation, or to show the pertinence of their findings.

This appeal to theories constitutes a threat for both cognitive interaction, as already stated, and for cooperative knowledge construction. So much so that, for example, if researchers assume social reality is subjected to some sort of normativity, of law and that, in consequence, the autonomous capacity of the person's will is constrained, determined, or conditioned, what value will they ascribe to the subjective meaning actors assign to their actions?

Will they consider that the actors' words will provide them with some knowledge they lack? Reflection on the answers to these questions enables a recognition of the obstacles researchers often, and even unintentionally, raise to cooperative knowledge construction.

This cannot be attained while they believe that only some, and in particular theory creators, scientists, and philosophers, may understand the sense, the destiny of mankind in the world, and of the person in society. For cognitive interaction and cooperative knowledge construction to take place it is necessary to bear in mind that different theories do not constitute a mirror in which people's identity and life in society is reflected. Those theories have their own ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions and, if we incorporate the concepts of these theories cognitively, the subjects who are to be known will be observed, and their actions interpreted, along the line of those assumptions.

The weight of notions and categories with which the knowledge of the "other" is attained is, in general, so strong that it does not just hinder access and recognition of the common aspect of identity, but it also overshadows it, darkening the differences between individuals and groups, as well.

In these cases cooperative knowledge construction does not take place because inquirers, far from allowing the participant actors' manifestations and expressions of their own knowledge, try to explain them, interpret what they observe, listen to or read "data" with codes which are alien to those of the people whose actions they try to understand, imposing on them the violence of a code, a narrative, or a law they do generally not know, nor consider guides their actions. This violence of the interpretation code imposes a "view" of the "others" on them and with it, an image of their identity, of what they are, can and, more often than not, must be and do.

It predicts a destiny for them, it shows them their possible and impossible goals and the various possibility conditions. Very little is finally known, on that account, about the destiny they aspire to and about what women and men look for and dream on a daily basis, although much is said about those other destinies, the so called "historical" ones, that are so often none other than the expression of certain individuals' desire to condition the future action and decision of others.

Concepts used to know, although critical at first, once established as universal cease to be analytical, and the religion of sense begins. They become canonical and enter the general system in theoretical reproduction mode. Scientific, universalizing discourse, code, therefore turns imperialistic: I will now give an example to show how the ontological and epistemological principles I propose for qualitative research operate.

This qualitative research tried to answer the following question: The interesting feature of this perspective lies in it examining the resources and strategies used in oral or written texts to impose, uphold, account for, and propose a certain interpretive model of social reality.

Those interpretive models are cognitively grounded, mostly, in the various epistemological paradigms I defined earlier Section 2. The inquiry was carried out at two time periods. The first stage generated a corpus of data Corpus 1 that consisted of 84 items of news that were published between 27 th December and 17 th February , all dealing with the topic of violence in general, and with young people associated with criminal acts in particular.

The second stage corpus Corpus 2 consisted of items of news on the same topic and from the same media along with articles from the "Co Latino" CL newspaper. The news articles were published between 7 th May and 17 th February The prevailing news items related to: The texts of those laws were also part of the corpus.

The strategies and linguistic resources examined were derived inductively from the study of the corpus, being those significantly and repeatedly used in the news, in particular, with argumentative functions. Among them are the categorization processes, characterization, different ways of representing social action, and metaphors.

One of the most salient features of the news in Corpus 1 is that the information it gives has been provided by the police "authorities," so that the prevailing interpretive model is the current one in that institutional discourse. Only one in ten pieces of news out of the in the entire corpus made reference to alternative interpretive models. I will compare, then, the prevailing model with the alternative interpretive models present in the entire corpus, so as to determine the main contrasting features of both types of models.

The acts of killing, crime, murder, and criminal activities are circumscribed to those categories SACKS, , pp. The word mara was used in El Salvador to mean a group of friends, but it then acquired a deprecatory meaning and is today used to refer to a group of organized youngsters who are linked to crime.

In the alternative interpretive models one group of young people is not different from the other and "youth," "adolescence," "childhood" are the terms used. Young people are not categorized by their inclusion in certain groups, nor by the activities they have or may have engaged in, nor is youth associated with violence. Characterization refers to both actions predicated on young people being associated with criminal activities and actions attributed to them using certain terms, "criminality" and "violence" in particular LPG, January 15, 20 and 27, In the alternative interpretive models no differences between groups of young people are pointed out, rather, they are all equally regarded as respectful of current and common societal values.

Those characteristics are presented as essentialized and, therefore, irreversible and unmodifiable LPG, February 10, For the alternative interpretive models the causes of violence are not subjective nor individual, but social and structural like, among others, the lack of educational options, in particular, LPG, January 29, and of opportunities, in general, LPG, February 10, together with poverty LPG, February 15, and discrimination EM, February 15, For the alternative interpretive models it is dignity which has to be privileged.

From this perspective, on 2 nd April the Supreme Court of Justice, choosing dignity over security, declared as unconstitutional the " antimaras law," which saw the very fact of belonging to a "gang" pandilla Art. The day before, the Legislative Assembly had supported a new version of that law for a period of three months. It can clearly be seen, then, how the media repeat the rhetoric of the police and President Flores about the "violence" of young people being linked to criminal acts, and how, on picturing them as "different," the media carry out violent actions themselves by essentializing those young people's so considered existential differences and denying, as a consequence, the principle of essential equality.

In this way, they are left symbolically out of participating, as free and equal, in the processes that construct society. This media and rhetorical violence, not usually seen as such, is exercised by subjecting "others" to categorizations, stigmatization, stereotypes, assessments, and characterizations they cannot challenge. The fact that such an act of identity deprivation is not seen as violent prevents their doers from recognizing it and, hence, from avoiding its practice.

And on the other hand, this kind of violence prevents those enduring it from having the possibility, much as they may claim their right to be protected or defended from it, of incorporating their resistance practices into their life-world as part of a new and renewed alternative interpretive model. The assumptions of the Epistemology of the Known Subject that guided this qualitative research enabled me to, among other things: This paper might, then, conclude with one question among the very many posed throughout the text: In the first place, it is necessary to highlight that, since it is people that the primary, fundamental characteristics of qualitative research orbits around, the acceptance of the ontological rupture of identity enables to grasp, at the same time, its two components: That is, to have access, on the one hand, to what is common, identical, thus enabling communication between the knowing and the known subjects and making cognitive interaction and cooperative knowledge construction possible, and, on the other hand, to grasp what is different, what makes for every person's uniqueness.

This ontological rupture enables the avoidance of the remnants of realistic ontology, so frequent in the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject, even if the interpretive paradigm is assumed and qualitative research carried out.

It is, then, about knowing "with" the "other" and not "about" the "other," about being one and the same with him or her, based on the shared component of identity; about leaving out separation, the otherness that separates the knower and the known and that turns them into "objects," much as their "subjectivity" as a knower may have been appealed to. It is about making the total manifestation of those "others" possible, about not exercising first, cognitive and then ontological violence against them, imposing an interpretation code they would have never resorted to, to account for the meaning of their actions.

It is about those researchers not giving up the principle of equality to lay stress on the differences. It is about their overcoming any distance and avoiding being trapped in the epistemological dualism with which "objectivity" is associated. It is about preventing the knowledge producers from denying not only the essential identity of the participant actors but also their own, by disregarding the shared feature of their humanity, which makes them one and the same, which identifies them and which is the reason for every person's dignity and, on that account, of that of both subjects of cognitive interaction.

Is it not the case, then, that knowledge produced in the interaction with "others" acquires a different entity and relevance from the one produced by a subject faced with an object that is asked about but cannot itself be asked, that is constructed but it is not possible to construct with, that is known about but does not share with the knower the same knowing capacity?

Reviewing the validity debate and opening the dialogue. Qualitative Health Research , 10 3 , Some perils of paradigms. Qualitative Health Research , 5 1 , Qualitative research—Unity and diversity. Qualitative Social Research , 6 3 , Art. Rethinking practices and structures.

Philosophy of the Social Sciences , 35 2 , The power of names. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography , 35 4 , Qualitative inquiry and research design. Choosing among five traditions. The Counseling Psychologist , 35 2 , Entering the field of qualitative research. On the compatibility between qualitative and quantitative research methods. Qualitative Social Research , 2 1 , Art.

An introduction to qualitative research. Classical and philosophical hermeneutics. The renaissance of qualitative methods. Competing paradigms in qualitative research.

Speech representation and the categorization of client in social work discourse. Text , 19 4 , Paradigms, purpose, and the role of the literature: Formulating a rationale for qualitative investigations. On the next level: Continuing the conceptualization of the bricolage. Qualitative Inquiry , 11 3 , Qualitative methods in Europe: The variety of social research. Academic armor, intimate ethnography, and the production of critical knowledge.

Qualitative Inquiry , 7 4 ,


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Identification of ontology at the start of the research process is critically important as it determines the choice of the research design. The figure below illustrates the consequent impact of ontology on the choice of research methods via epistemology, research approach, research strategy and methods of data collection and data analysis.

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What on earth are Ontology and Epistemology? Dr Sally Vanson I am an NLP Master Trainer, sit on the accreditation panel of ANLP, the Research Committee of ICF and am CEO of The Performance Solution where as well as training professional coaches to get accreditation through ICF, we have designed, developed and run the world’s.

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Epistemology, Ontology & Research Practice! 4 key items in the construction and process of research: 1. Methods - techniques or procedures 2. Methodology - strategy, plan or design linking the choice of methods to the desired outcomes 3. Theoretical perspectives - our philosophical stance. What is participatory research methodology? What is its ontology, epistemology and research methods examples? Key features of the participatory research methods included gaining permission.

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This ontological rupture enables the avoidance of the remnants of realistic ontology, so frequent in the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject, even if the interpretive paradigm is assumed and qualitative research carried out. Our Research Methods pages are designed to help you choose and then use the right research method for your purposes. They cover the whole process of research, from understanding the philosophical theory underpinning your choice of method, through choosing the methods that you will use to answer your research question, to .