Epistemological, Ontological, and Methodological

There are three assumptions in research: epistemological, ontological, and methodological. Epistemological refers to the ways to acquire the knowledge (Alan Bryman, 2001). The knowledge those are acceptable in certain paradigms. For example, epistemological in the normative paradigm is how the social world can investigate as natural science. Hypotheses have to test by empirical approaches. The results have to be objective through scientific method. In contrast, epistemology in interpretive is acquire the knowledge by investigate the phenomena in many ways, because the social context is different from natural science. Therefore, investigation the social phenomena can result many interpretations. Furthermore, in critical theory, practical issues can construct the knowledge. It tends to change the certain conditions through criticizing the practical, politics, and social issues. Therefore, the results can be subjective.

Furthermore, ontological assumption concerns on the nature of the world and human being in social contexts (Alan Bryman, 2001). There are different assumptions to see the world as outside individual. Therefore, ontology in normative emphasis that social phenomenon is independent from other factors. The world is one that there are no other perceptions. In contrast, interpretive emphasize that the world in social phenomena has different meanings. One factor influences the change in social context. As a result, different researches can have different conclusions for one observation. On the other hand, critical theory paradigm tends to see the world as something that has to change. It involves criticizing and the social phenomena and changing it based on the interrogations of the phenomena both social and individual.

Finally, methodological assumption focuses on analysis of the methods used for gaining the data (Louis Kohen, Lawrence Manion, Keith Morrison, 2001). In normative paradigms, scientific method, quantitative is used to observe the objects. It uses mathematics calculation to generalize the finding and test the theory. In contrast, an interpretive paradigm uses observation, fieldwork note to investigate the object. In short, an interpretive paradigm tends to use qualitative methods for observation. As a result, the findings can be open to many interpretations. On the other hand, methodology in critical theory tends to use both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitative to control the social setting when doing the actions and qualitative to observe the changes that happened after the actions are given.


18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by trinirastawoman on January 1, 2010 at 12:06 am

    I understand, but what part does ontological and epistemological play in research methods and values in research methods?


    • Posted by yulirahmawati on February 8, 2010 at 4:42 am

      Thank you for your comments on my blog

      You can read another topic on my blog. Ontological and epistemological determine the way the researcher conduct the research methods. The reading on research paradigms will help you to understand hows it influences the research.

      Please send me an email on yuli.chem@gmail.com for next discussions.

      thank you


      • Posted by BettyFeng on November 23, 2010 at 2:05 am

        I couldn’t find the blog you mentioned: Ontological and epistemological determine the way the researcher conduct the research methods. Can you send the link to me? Thank you so much!

      • same is the case with me i too not found your blog and in reply sent you in email for getting the good readings. thanks

  2. Posted by jaredcormier on February 8, 2010 at 4:12 am

    I really wish I could summarize these three so concisely; I am afraid my linguistic capacity is far outmatched by your own, though. Thank you for simplifying what I have been trying to say.


    • Posted by yulirahmawati on February 8, 2010 at 4:48 am


      I am sorry for my English limitation whih make you confuse. Hope we can discuss it further.

      Thank you,



      • Posted by jenifer on June 21, 2014 at 2:51 am

        this article was so interested because it enable me to understand assumptions of communication research

  3. Posted by Hulisani Nemaxwi on March 25, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Hi there,

    Your discusion on ontology and epistimology is very interesting and helped me to understand better. You you mind to send some of the research material relating to this topic. I am busy with my Honours studies and want more informative and authoritative copies on this.

    Thank you


  4. I am so glad I stumbbled upon this article. I have spent 2 days now trying to write on the research design aspect of my dissertation proposals but to no avail as I did not understand those three methodological assumptions that you have explained.


  5. Posted by Claytus Mufalo on September 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    ur explanation is quite good.


  6. Posted by Anna on April 26, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Thank you for explaining this in a direct way!


    • Posted by kelvin nchwali on November 11, 2012 at 9:56 am

      thanx for these explanations madam,but there somthing i got in mind,can these explanation be linked to the objectives for ontological,resercher interaction in epistemological,and if yes how can i establise such link,then sorry,it will be a great help if you can wtite up a topic also on axiological and rhetorical assumptions,. Thanx for reading mom! Hav a gud day


  7. Posted by jj on August 14, 2013 at 5:38 am

    sounds great, but science has not proved


  8. Posted by daina on April 14, 2014 at 10:31 am

    well its nice discussion but one more question what is the linkage between ontological assumption and epistemological assumption in understanding the reality and knwledge


  9. can i get the information about axiologic paradigms


  10. Posted by Odion on February 23, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Hello, could you please explain what axiological assumption is


  11. Posted by John Kombe on October 7, 2015 at 4:34 am

    i am glad i bumped into this article. Research language can be confusing. this has helped.


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