Title

The Positivism Paradigm of Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1-2020

Journal

Academic Medicine

DOI

10.1097/ACM.0000000000003093

Abstract

© 2020 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved. Research paradigms guide scientific discoveries through their assumptions and principles. Understanding paradigm-specific assumptions helps illuminate the quality of findings that support scientific studies and identify gaps in generating sound evidence. This article focuses on the research paradigm of positivism, examining its definition, history, and assumptions (ontology, epistemology, axiology, methodology, and rigor). Positivism is aligned with the hypothetico-deductive model of science that builds on verifying a priori hypotheses and experimentation by operationalizing variables and measures; results from hypothesis testing are used to inform and advance science. Studies aligned with positivism generally focus on identifying explanatory associations or causal relationships through quantitative approaches, where empirically based findings from large sample sizes are favored - in this regard, generalizable inferences, replication of findings, and controlled experimentation have been principles guiding positivist science. Criteria for evaluating the quality of positivist research are discussed. An example from health professions education is provided to guide positivist thinking in study design and implementation.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS