Research Aptitude Free Study Material (UGC NET Updated Notes 2020)

Positive Approach/Positivism
Positivism refers to an evidence-based reality that can be mathematically interpreted. According to Waismann (2011), positivist generalizations are based on ‘real’ causes which are perceived as the true source of behaviour and are based on unchangeable, sound foundations.
In its broader sense, positivism is a rejection of metaphysics. It is a position that holds that the goal of knowledge is simply to describe the phenomena that we experience. The purpose of science is simply to stick to what we can observe and measure. Knowledge of anything beyond that, a positivist would hold, is impossible. In a positivist view of the world, science was seen as the way to get at truth, to understand the world well enough so that we might predict and control it. The world and the universe were deterministic- they operated by laws of cause and effect that we could discern if we applied the unique approach of the scientific method. Science was largely a mechanistic or mechanical affair. The positivist believed in empiricism – the idea that observation and measurement was the core of the scientific endeavor.

Positivist researchers believe that they can reach a full understanding based on experiment and observation. Concepts and knowledge are held to be the product of straightforward experience, interpreted through rational deduction.
The positive paradigm is based on the philosophical ideas of the French philosopher August Comte. Historically, the concept of positivism emerged after the French Revolution and was established by Auguste Compte during the 1830s in France. Emphasized observation and reason are means of understanding human behavior. True knowledge is based on experience of senses and can be obtained by observation and experiment. Verified data (positive facts) received from the senses are known as empirical evidence. Thus positivism is based on empiricism. Positive knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations, interpreted through reasons and logical observation. Positivist thinkers adopt scientific method as a means of knowledge generation. Hence it has to be understood within the frame work of the principles and assumptions of science.
In educational research, the type of research such as Quantitative, surveys, longitudinal, cross-sectional, correlational, experimental, quasi-experimental and ex-post facto research are the examples of positivism (Relationship between students’ motivation and their academic achievement, Effect of intelligence on academic performance of primary school learners).
According to the critics of this paradigm, objectivity needs to be replaced by subjectivity in the process of scientific enquiry. This gives rise to non positivism or naturalistic enquiry.
As a philosophy, positivism adheres to the view that only “factual” knowledge gained through observation (the senses), including measurement, is trustworthy. In positivism studies the role of the researcher is limited to data collection and interpretation in an objective way. In these types of studies research findings are usually observable and quantifiable.
The five main principles of positivism research philosophy can be summarized as the following:
1. There are no differences in the logic of inquiry across sciences.
2. The research should aim to explain and predict.
3. Research should be empirically observable via human senses. Inductive reasoning should be used to develop statements (hypotheses) to be tested during the research process.
4. Science is not the same as the common sense. The common sense should not be allowed to bias the research findings.
5. Science must be value-free and it should be judged only by logic.
The following are a few examples for studies that adhere to positivism research philosophy:
 A study into the impact of the global economic crisis of 2007 – 2009 on the brand equity of US-based listed companies
 An analysis of effects of foreign direct investment on GDP growth in Vietnam
 A study of relationship between diffusion of innovation of mobile applications and saturation of applications in a country
Positivism is also called empiricism. It is a philosophical viewpoint that limits knowledge to facts that can be observed and to the relationships between these facts. The proponents of positivism advocate that science can only concern itself with empirical questions. Empirical questions are questions about how things are in reality. In this context, reality is defined as the world which can be sensed. In empirical enquiry, it is assumed that facts “speak for themselves”.

Post-Positivistic Approach/Postpositivism
Post-positivism is a wholesale rejection of the central tenets of positivism. The post-positivist perspective is that not everything is completely knowable (Krauss, 2005).The post-positivist paradigm evolved from the positivist paradigm. It is concerned with the subjectivity of reality and moves away from the purely objective stance adopted by the logical positivists. A post-positivist might begin by recognizing the way scientists think and world and the way we thing in our everyday life not distinctly different. It can further be classified into Constructivists and Critical Realists.
Post-positivist research has the following characteristics:
1. Research is broad rather than specialized – lots of different things qualify as research;
2. Theory and practice cannot be kept separate. We cannot afford to ignore theory for the sake of ‘just the facts’;
3. The researcher’s motivations for and commitment to research are central and crucial to the enterprise (Schratz and Walker, 1995: 1, 2);
4. The idea that research is concerned only with correct techniques for collecting and categorizing information is now inadequate
However, since the middle part of the 20th century things have changed in our views of science. Probably the most important has been our shift away from positivism into what is called post-positivism. Postpositivism recognizes that the way scientists think and work and the way we think in our everyday life are not distinctly different. Scientific reasoning and common sense reasoning are essentially the same process. There is no difference in kind between the two, only a difference in degree. Postpositivism recognizes that all observation is fallible and has error and that all theory is revisable. Where the positivist believed that the goal of science was to uncover the truth, the post-positivist believes that the goal of science is to hold steadily to the goal of getting it right about reality, even though we can never achieve that goal.

Criteria of good research
An ideal research should have

  1. Clearly defined purpose and common concepts,
  2. Procedures described in details for further advancement,
  3. A complete frank report with no manipulations,
  4. Procedural design of research carefully planned as to yield results that are as objectives as possible,
  5. Limits and justification of data for adequate conclusions,
  6. Proper analysis of data, methods used, and proper checking for the validity and reliability of data, and
  7. Warranty for research through reputation, experience and intelligence of the researcher.

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