Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Epistemology of Qualitative Research

"The epistemology of qualitative research provides the underpinnings for how qualitative research is conducted-how data are collected and analyzed and how conclusions are reached."

Epistemology refers to a branch of philosophy that studies the origins, methods and limits of human knowledge.  With respect to research, epistemology refers to the underlying assumptions and basic ideas about how research is conducted.

Qualitative Research is more than techniques.  It is an approach to research which has somewhat different underpinnings than quantitative research.

The Underlying Epistemology of Qualitative Research can be summarized as follows:

  1. Phenomena should be viewed holistically
  2. The researcher operates in a natural setting
  3. It is the perceptions of those being studied that are important
  4. Assumptions and conclusions are subject to change as the research proceeds