A variety of considerations enters into the process of social researches. In this summary I will start describing the notions of ontology, epistemology and objectivity, and then I will make a listing of several approaches to research methods.
I. Notions of Ontology, Epistemology and Objectivity.
First, we need to understand two notions which play an important role in the research process: ontology and epistemology. Ontology tries to explain the nature of social entities (or reality) whereas epistemology seeks to know the truth about reality: how do we know and study things, how do we come up with this knowledge, and how can we ever know the truth about reality?
These notions are related with the notion of “objectivity”.
Sarantakos( 2005:430) defines “Objectivity” as the notion that in their work social scientists and researcher should exclude values and subjective judgments”. This means being able to observe the reality from a distant standpoint and analysing it. However, in my opinion (anti-foundationalist approach) no one can pretend to be fully objective in his way of thinking or conducting research study because we are influenced by the social world we live in and are affected by the social constructions of reality.
II. Various approaches:
a) Rationalism and idealism :
According to the rationalists , knowledge can be obtained by strict adherence to the forms and rules of logic. They argue that the human mind can understand the world independent of its observable phenomena and that forms of knowledge exist that are independent of our personal experiences( Chava Frankfort-Nachmias, David Nachmias, 2009:4).
Idealists argue that we are not conditioned by the world but, on the contrary, we create the world through our ideas. Reality cannot be known independently of our perceptions and assumptions: it is the reconstruction of the world in people’s minds( Maggie Sumner, 2006:93).