Positivism and Post Positivistic Approach to Research UGC NET

Positivism and Post Positivistic Approach to Research UGC NET

American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie states,

“Research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict and control the observed phenomenon.”

Research refers to a careful consideration of study related to a specific problem or concern applying scientific methods. The word ‘research’ originates from the French word “recerchier” which means to ‘search again.’ Positivism and Post Positivist are two examples of quantitative Vs qualitative research methodology. Positivism refers to a descriptive approach to research whereas post-positivism is based on critical realism.


Positivism research involves knowledge of facts gained through observation. It stresses on data collection and interpretation in the most objective way as it appears. The findings in positivism are objective and quantifiable because the researcher can’t use his or her subjective interpretations. Some key features of positivism include: 

1. Knowledge can be gained through experiences and by observing different elements of the world

2. It focuses on objectivity and quantifiability of results. 

3. It emphasises empiricism.

4. It uses observable and measurable facts for enquiry.

5. It assumes that knowledge can be obtained through the senses.

6. It is a form of deductive approach.

Hence, positivism states that natural sciences are only the sciences. Social sciences don’t come under the ambit of it because they involve subjective adjustments.


Post-positivism can be referred to as a more interpretative and refined method because it acknowledges biases in whatever method is being chosen. In post-positivism, concepts are considered relevant only if they support action. The features of this approach are as follows: 

1. It focuses on the following types of research:

a. Phenomenological research

b. Ethnographic research 

c. Action research 

2. It is the opposite of the positivist approach.

3. It presumes that scientists are biassed and subjective.

4. The laws and theories can be tested using scientific methods

In this research, the study starts with existing theory, collecting data and analysis with the ultimate aim to reject or validate a theory.

Read: UGC NET Paper 1

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