While philosophical concepts are not largely obvious in research (Slife and Williams, 1995), they nevertheless influence research practice and should be detected. Researchers must plainly reveal their key philosophical concepts they promote and help explain reasons why research approaches are chosen. The term “worldview” means “a set of beliefs that guide research” (Guba, 1990). Lincoln, Lynham, and Guba (2011) have coined them as paradigms; Crookes (2012) epistemology and ontology and Neuman (2013) as broadly conceived research methodology. Thus, knowledge and ways to discover it, are subjective.
Willis (2007) defined paradigm as “a comprehensive belief system, worldview, or framework that informs research and practice in a field” (p.8). Any research aims at discovering something about the world through experiments, hypothesis testing, observations etc. (Seltman, 2012, p. 34). However, the most salient research methods to attain knowledge are positivistic and interpretivist approaches.
Positivism is crucially associated with ‘scientific method’ because positivists understand social sciences to be strictly scientific as the natural sciences where theories and hypotheses are generated and then tested by using direct observation or empirical studies. Moreover, positivists use quantitative approaches, believe in objective and value-free research. Interpretivists, on the other hand, acknowledges the world that it is ‘socially constructed’ in which knowledge is not objective and value-free, but is conveyed through thoughts, discussions and experiences. Accordingly, using interpretivist research strategies make it challenging to see beyond personal preconceptions and experiences. Positivism essentially seeks to generalise, while interpretivism seeks to understand the worldview.