Reading Today: Social Research Strategies

Key Points:

  • Quantitative and qualitative research constitute different approaches to social investigation and carry with them important epistemological and ontological consideration.
  • Theory can be depicted as something that precedes research (as in quantitative research) or as something that emerges out of it (as in qualitative research).
  • Epistemological considerations loom large in considerations of research strategy. To a large extent, these revolve around the desirability of employing a natural science model (and in particular positivism) versus interpretivism.
  • Ontological considerations, concerning objectivism versus constructionism, also constitute important dimensions of the quantitative/qualitative contrast.
  • Value may impinge on the research process at different times.
  • Practical considerations in decisions about research methods are also important factors.
  • Feminist researchers have tended to prefer a qualitative approach, though there is some evidence of a change of viewpoint in this regard.

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