International Education Journal

Educational Research Conference 2002 Special Issue


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Contemporary Themes in the Research Enterprise

Tony Gibbons
Flinders University School of Education

Gavin Sanderson
Flinders University School of Education


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This paper discusses themes associated with the enterprise of educational research, particularly as it applies to notions of ontology and epistemology in 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' methodologies. It begins by identifying the 'space' that educational research occupies in the contemporary social setting and indicates the growing complexities of the 'real world' which researchers contemplate. The development of empirical and interpretive methodologies is traced through an historical analysis of educational research that highlights the emergence of the postmodern platform. This leads to an examination of the traditions of both the 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' approaches with a view to understanding their positioning in the field of educational research. It is maintained that these two methodologies are examples of paradigms which exist within traditions. They are often said to be incommensurable paradigms. We propose a solution to their seeming incommensurability, which in part involves assessing the coherence of the idea of a 'paradigm'.

Research, Qualitative, Quantitative, Paradigm, Tradition



Gibbons, T. and Sanderson, G. (2002) Contemporary Themes in the Research Enterprise. International Education Journal, 3 (4), 1-22.

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