JICA Ogata Research Institute


Literature Reviews

No.15 Qualitative Research is not a Unified Paradigm: Implications for the Evaluation of Qualitative Research Studies

Qualitative research is very popular in social science. When compared with quantitative research studies, the common characteristics seen among qualitative research studies stand out. Nonetheless, when the philosophical and methodological foundations of the latter are examined carefully, their variations surface. Qualitative research is not a unified paradigm.

The current paper reviews the literature on research paradigms in social science and based on this review presents four implications regarding the evaluation of qualitative research studies. These are: (1) the necessity for divergent evaluation criteria, (2) the importance of a clear indication of the researchers’ paradigm, (3) the possibility of a single criterion, and (4) the impracticality of setting evaluation criteria. These implications are contradictory. This incompatibility reflects the complexity of establishing evaluation criteria for qualitative research studies and the diversity of these studies. At the end, the paper also provides an implication for researchers in international development studies (IDS). Namely, the IDS researchers should be self-reflexive in the research paradigm of their own studies.

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