Are phenomenology and postpositivism strange bedfellows?

Frances E Racher, Steven Robinson
Western Journal of Nursing Research 2003, 25 (5): 464-81; discussion 482-91
Researchers are advocating that a necessary condition of scholarly research is congruence between philosophical positions and research approaches. Phenomenology and postpositivism, traditionally, may appear to be situated in scientific inquiry as polar opposites and mutually exclusive paradigms. This article (a) describes the reflections of a nurse researcher and clarifies her philosophical assumptions; (b) delineates the postpositive paradigm and the interpretive paradigm, which traditionally includes phenomenology; (c) discusses phenomenology as a philosophy, an approach, and a research method; and (d) demonstrates the consistency between postpositivism and phenomenology. Nurse researchers must be aware of their philosophical assumptions and appraise the philosophical underpinnings of the methodologies, but this process should not restrict and limit their exploration of possibilities and the creativity in their efforts to address the growing challenges that await nursing science research.


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