4

Research paradigms

Introduction

There is a popular image of the independent scholar or scientist happily working away in an office or laboratory, with no other concern than to engage in a relentless pursuit of truth and follow whatever flights of imagination might lead to some revolutionary discovery. Of course, it should come as no great surprise that the reality of how scientists and scholars work is considerably different. Thomas Kuhn (1962), in his seminal account of the history and philosophy of science,1 describes how the bulk of scientific research unfolds largely within the structure of what he terms ‘normal science’, and the closely associated concept of ‘paradigms’. Paradigms are the system of assumptions and beliefs that are shared ...

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