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ERIC Number: EJ942913
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 37
ISSN: ISSN-1056-3997
Paradigms or Toolkits? Philosophical and Methodological Positions as Heuristics for Mixed Methods Research
Maxwell, Joseph A.
Mid-Western Educational Researcher, v24 n2 p27-30 Spr 2011
In this article, the author challenges the validity and usefulness of the concept of "paradigm," as this term has been used in the social sciences generally, and specifically in the debates over research methods. He emphasizes that in criticizing what he sees as the misuse of the paradigm concept, he is not arguing for dismissing or ignoring philosophical ideas and stances in mixed methods research. This is not only because such ideas can be useful heuristic tools for mixed methods researchers, but also because these ideas and stances are real properties of researchers, and have an important influence on their research practices. These assumptions and influences are often unconscious, and thus it is critical for researchers to become aware of and to understand the philosophical views that they hold, how these are shaping their research decisions, and how they can use these views productively as tools for understanding the phenomena they study. This article is itself an example of the approach that the author advocates. He is borrowing particular ideas from different authors and perspectives, and he is attempting to put these together into a toolkit that can be useful in thinking about mixed methods research. Thus, he has taken the distributionist view of culture, the critique of paradigms as unified philosophical stances for research, Andrew Abbott's idea of philosophical premises as heuristics, a realist understanding of researchers' philosophical assumptions and their influence on practice, a constructivist epistemology, and postmodernism's assumption that diversity is fundamental, and its critique of foundationalism, and tried to show how, together, these ideas can be useful in thinking about mixed methods research. The author's approach is also pragmatist in that he is more concerned with how these ideas can be productively combined than with their logical implications. (Contains 4 footnotes.)
Mid-Western Educational Research Association. P.O. Box 34421, Chicago, IL 60634-0421. Tel: 419-372-7401; Fax: 419-372-2828; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Researchers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A