Making sense of methodologies: a paradigm framework for the novice researcher

Contemp Nurse. 2002 Aug;13(1):10-28. doi: 10.5172/conu.13.1.10.


Methodologies abound in the field of health and social science research, making a confusing terrain for new researchers. In this article, we offer order out of confusion. Drawing on our work as postgraduate teachers, we outline a paradigm framework which proposes that methodologies are similar or different because of their underlying assumptions and values. We identify four major paradigms, explain the distinctive assumptions which underpin them, and show how each figures the researcher and the researcher-researched relationship. Along the way, we place a variety of methodologies into their paradigm of origin and offer some illustrative examples of health research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Nursing Methodology Research / organization & administration*
  • Researcher-Subject Relations