The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

Introduction to positivism, interpretivism and critical theory

Ryan, Gemma (2018). Introduction to positivism, interpretivism and critical theory. Nurse Researcher, 25(4) pp. 41–49.

Full text available as:
[img]
Preview
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (710kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.7748/nr.2018.e1466
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

Background There are three commonly known philosophical research paradigms used to guide research methods and analysis: positivism, interpretivism and critical theory. Being able to justify the decision to adopt or reject a philosophy should be part of the basis of research. It is therefore important to understand these paradigms, their origins and principles, and to decide which is appropriate for a study and inform its design, methodology and analysis.

Aim To help those new to research philosophy by explaining positivism, interpretivism and critical theory.

Discussion Positivism resulted from foundationalism and empiricism; positivists value objectivity and proving or disproving hypotheses. Interpretivism is in direct opposition to positivism; it originated from principles developed by Kant and values subjectivity. Critical theory originated in the Frankfurt School and considers the wider oppressive nature of politics or societal influences, and often includes feminist research.

Conclusion This paper introduces the historical context of three well-referenced research philosophies and explains the common principles and values of each.

Implications for practice The paper enables nurse researchers to make informed and rational decisions when embarking on research.

Item Type: Journal Item
ISSN: 1351-5578
Keywords: critical theory; interpretivism; novice researchers; nursing research; positivism; research philosophy
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Health, Wellbeing and Social Care > Nursing
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Health and Wellbeing PRA (Priority Research Area)
Item ID: 49591
Depositing User: Gemma S Ryan
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2019 13:47
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 18:16
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/49591
Share this page:

Metrics

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU