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Beginning Your Research Design

What type of researcher are you?

Everybody is different in the ways they contemplate and go about research and may have received different messages.

You might be:

Reluctant                 Methodological


Organised            Enthusiastic

       Resistant                       Curious

Getting Started


Beginning to think about developing your interest and embryonic research questions into a proper research study can be both exciting and daunting at the same time, with much to consider.

Four Main Features of Research Design


The researcher's world view informed by their lived experience that then forms outlook, beliefs and assumptions about the world and their perception of reality.


The beliefs the researcher holds about the best way to research the world and reality.


The way the researcher builds the components of research design and techniques together to build the overall coherent picture that will answer the research question

Methods and Techniques

What you actually do to collect data and analyse it.

These all fit together like the rings of a tree trunk. Whilst the methods are the most visible and outermost, the inner rings need to be just as robust to be able to support the tree and the research to be coherent, viable and valid

Easterby Smith, Thorpe and Jackson (2001)


Your worldview as a researcher and assumptions that you make about perceived reality based on this worldview


Ontological Positions in Research


The world is real and can be learnt about and examined by measuring it and observing it to uncover facts. there is one single truth, which we must seek to find. Realists value objectivity in research so the truth they are seeking is free from human bias.

Internal Realism

Whilst the world is real it is not easy to examine it directly. Truth and facts are both obscure entities that cannot always be found.


The laws of science and categorisation are created by people to fit their own views of reality and cannot be accurate. There are many truths and individual peoples truths are based on their worldview shaped by their experience. Relativism takes a more subjective stance to research.


The assumptions made as a researcher about the best and most effective ways to investigate the world

Epistemological Positions


The best way to investigate and research is through an objective stance to ensure that facts are not distorted by bias. The positivist position fits well with a realist ontology and objectivism

Social Constructionism

Reality does not exist independently of the meaning that people give to it, therefore the main focus should be on peoples thoughts, feelings, beliefs, lived experience and its impact on their worldview. This fits better with a relativist ontology and subjectivism


Stems from the greek word Axios, meaning worthy and is known as the theory of value and is concerned with what is intrinsically worthwhile in human states to be valued just because they are. It is about the values of being and human flourishing, which is fundamental when working therapeutically with children and young people. Axiological approaches are concerned with participatory approaches that promote human flourishing in every which way.


As therapeutic researchers reflexivity is an important concept that should be woven through all aspects of research. Reflectivity involves detailed attention to the inner life of the researcher in relation to the outer world of research and the context of knowledge construction. The perspective of the research is a constant shaper of every aspect of the research. Reflexivity acknowledges and embraces subjectivity and encourages the reflection necessary to conduct good research from within it where the researcher learns and gets to know themselves more deeply in relation to the research they carry out

A summary

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