Types of Research Philosophies Used in Dissertation Methodology

Dissertation Methodology
Research philosophy is the set of briefs showing development of knowledge. In simple words, research philosophies show how a researcher can collect, analyse, and report data. Research philosophy is an essential part of the research method. The two common research models include Saunders’ research onion, and Honeycomb Model. Research philosophy is the first step in both models. Research philosophy tells the researcher’s views about basic principles of the world. It helps the author in choosing the correct research approach. It also tells how to select the correct strategy in methodology chapter of the dissertation.

Different Types of Research Philosophies for the Method Section of Dissertation

Generally, the Research philosophy has three basic components;
  • Ontology
  • Epistemology
  • Axiology
The details highlighting how these three terms differ from each other are as follows;


Ontology tries to explain the reality of nature of assumptions. One benefit of ontology is that you can change it according to the research project. Common research projects include;
  • Business management
  • Business organisation
  • Artefacts
  • Business events

Hence, Ontology reflects a researcher’s perspectives about the world. It governs the researcher’s decision about selection of a research project.

For example, you want to research the hurdles about organisational changes. Relevant data reflect that such hurdles are damaging stability of the organisation. Yet, the harmful nature of obstructions is a form of Ontology assumption. Scientists argued that resistance is a type of misconduct. Hence checking employees who resist such changes will be the aim of this research. In other aspects, Ontology assumptions may include the following;
  • Resistance is a phenomenon that takes place at the time of organisational changes.
  • What are the ways to control resistance for benefit of the organisation?


Epistemology describes the assumptions about knowledge that you may include in research. These can be any from the following;
  • What are the acceptable forms of data?
  • It concerns the reliability and validity of knowledge.
  • Ways of communicating knowledge with others.
The nature of business management means using different types of knowledge. In a dissertation, the data may be in any of the following ways;
  • Numerical data
  • Textual data
  • Graphical representation of data
  • Data in the form of Visual aids
  • Narrative data
  • Descriptive data
  • Fictional accounts
Hence, Epistemology provides different briefs to deal with huge versatility in knowledge types. These types of data allow researchers to adopt any of the following;
  • Archival Research
  • Auto bibliography Research
  • Fictional research account
  • Narrative analysis
It can be said that Epistemology offers a wide choices of methods. A researcher can adopt them for constructing his research method. But before using Epistemology in research, you must know about its strengths and weaknesses. Epistemology also consists of four more components. These are highlighted as follows;
  • Positivism
  • Interpretivism
  • Realism
  • Pragmatism


The common features of Positivism that make it different from the other two types are as follows;
  • It is helpful in research projects containing natural processes. Because in natural sciences researches, data is present in the observable form.
  • It depends upon data collection approach, and components of the hypothesis.
  • It facilitates the research. This is because it offers an organised structure to a research’s method.
  • It also helps in the quantification of statistical data. It directs researchers towards the selection of analysis techniques.
  • Positivism specifies selection of deductive approach for the dissertation.
  • Positivism relates viewpoints that allow the researchers in concentrating on facts.
  • Selection of Positivism in research is important. This is because it clarifies that the current research was a result of your independent efforts.


Some common features of Interpretivism are as follows;
  • Interpretivism helps in social science researches.
  • It is a less structured way of organising research methods.
  • It deals with conceptual aspect of the qualitative data analysis.
  • Qualitative data in the form of an open-ended questionnaire is a subject of this philosophy.
  • The derivation theory of Interpretivism is derived from ‘social action theory.’
  • It specifies selection of inductive approaches within the dissertation.
  • Interpretivism deals with the provision of human interests.

Extra facts about Interpretivism are also given below;
  • Before selecting Interpretivism, the researcher should be aware of the biasness. It can be related to this philosophy.
  • In primary data analysis, Interpretivism gives specific results. Yet, the researcher’s point of view is important. This is because it increases generalisation of the study.

In Interpretivism, reliability and generalisations of the results are uncertain.

But Interpretivism helps a lot in solving qualitative research problems such as;
  • Measuring cultural differences of the organisations.
  • Highlighting the ethical issues among different organisations.
  • Estimation of leadership styles.
Also Read This: Things You Should Know about HIBAR Research


Like Positivism and Interpretivism, Realism has its own features. Some characteristic features of Realism are as follows;
  • Realism pursues the idea of independence of research objectives from human mind.
  • This branch of Epistemology specifies the type of knowledge for a research project.
  • Realism is of two types. These include Direct, and Critical Realism.
  • Direct Realism is an act of describing the world from your own perspective.
While in critical Realism, you can use sensations, or images of the real world. This is different from Direct Realism due to imaginary nature of those images.


The most important feature of Interpretivism and Positivism is the data that you want to analyse. Positivism deals with quantitative data, while Interpretivism deals with qualitative data. What if a researcher wants to deal with both types of data at the same time? The one-word answer to this question is ‘Pragmatism.’ Some common features of Pragmatism are as follows;
  • Pragmatism accepts assumptions only if they support the action.
  • It explains that a single point cannot reveal reality of the world. So you should use many ideas side by side to achieve this.


Axiology is another branch of research philosophy. It helps researchers in making the judgement from a given value. Its major role is to show the researcher’s own knowledge about stages of the research process. In simple words, you can define Axiology as the aims of researchers. In broad terms, a scientist can use this philosophy to understand or predict the world’s reality.

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