Unit II Research Aptitude Crash Course – Quick Revision (Terms & Concepts) Based on New Paper 1 Syllabus for 2020

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  • Research: Meaning, Types, and Characteristics, Positivism and Postpositivistic approach to research.

  • Methods of Research: Experimental, Descriptive, Historical, Qualitative and Quantitative methods. Steps of Research.

  • Thesis and Article writing: Format and styles of referencing.

  • Application of ICT in research.

  • Research ethics.


  • What is Research?

  • Types of Research

  • Focused Group Discussions

  • Brain Storming

  • Grounded Theory Approach

What is Scientific Research?

  • Deductive and Inductive Approach

  • Quantitative and Qualitative Research

  • Ex-post Facto research

  • Action Research

  • Experimental/Non-Experimental

  • Diagnostic/Prognostic

  • Laboratory

  • Process of knowing new facts and verifying old ones by use of scientific methods to natural phenomena arriving at uniform explanation of laws governing those phenomena

  • Scientific research is systematic, controlled, empirical, and critical investigation of hypothetical proposition about presumed relations among natural phenomena -Kerlinger

Types of Research

  • Causal or explanatory research

  • Exploratory

  • Confirmatory

  • Descriptive

  • Historical

  • Causal or explanatory research is conducted to identify the extent and nature of cause-and-effect relationships.

  • Exploratory Research: Aims at exploring the possibility of doing research on certain subject where due to paucity of existing knowledge, framing and testing of hypothesis is difficult

  • Confirmatory research unlike exploratory research tests a priori hypotheses- outcome predictions that are made before the measurement phase begins

  • Descriptive: Find why & what of current state of system. It can be by survey, interrelationship and developmental studies

    • Static: Single measurement, e.g., public opinion

    • Dynamic: Examine relationship

    • Cross Sectional: Data collection at single point of time

    • Longitudinal: Data collection over a period of time

  • Historical: Evaluate past events

Research Design

Characteristics of Good Research

Parts of Research

Steps in Research Design

  • It is the overall plan and research program with blueprint for collection, measurement, and data analysis

  • It designates logical manner of comparison and analysis & forms basis of making data interpretations


  • Setting up of objectives and formulation of research problem

  • Reviewing literature

  • Selection of hypothesis

  • Preparing a work guide with time and budget estimates

  • Designing experiment

  • Processing, analyzing & interpretation

Report writing and publication

Writing Styles: MLA / APA / Chicago

Impact Factor

Article Writing


  • MLA was created in 1985 for English, humanities & literature, and is used mostly in academic papers in high school and undergraduate universities.

  • In MLA, the way you use it to cite a source highlights source’s author, and page on which they wrote the statement you’re referring to. This makes it easy for one of your readers to check the original quotation, and see how that author influenced your thinking.

Hypothesis – Criteria, Functions, Types

Null and Alternative Hypothesis

Alpha & Beta – Type 1 and 2 Error in Hypothesis

Variables – Dependent/Independent/Extraneous

  • Set of suggested tentative solutions to explain research problem, which may or may not be a real solution

  • Characteristics of Hypothesis

    • It should be clear and precise

    • It should be testable

    • It should be limited in scope

    • It should clearly state relationships between two variables

    • It should be amendable to the testing within reasonable time

    • It should be consistent with the most of the known facts


  • Types of Sampling

    • Probability

      • Simple Random

      • Systematic

      • Stratified

        • Cluster

        • Multistage

    • Non-Probability

      • Quota

      • Purposive

      • Convenience

  • Judgment

  • Selection of whole part of an aggregate of material to represent the whole aggregate

  • Types of Sampling

    • Probability

      • Simple Random

      • Systematic

      • Stratified

        • Cluster

        • Multistage

    • Non-Probability

      • Quota

      • Purposive

      • Convenience

  • Judgment

Experimental Design

  • Comparison

  • Randomization

  • Replication

  • Blocking

  • Orthogonality

  • Factorial Experiments

  • Ronald A. Fisher proposed methodology for designing experiments in his book, “The Design of Experiments” in 1935. He described how to test hypothesis that certain person could differentiate by flavor alone whether milk or tea was first placed in cup. This allowed him to suggest experimental design ideas

  • Comparison: When it is hard to reproduce measured results exactly comparison is used

  • Randomization: This technique just don’t mean being haphazard & consequences of making unit allocation to treatments using random mechanism e.g. random numbers tables

  • Replication: Measurements between repeated measurements & replicated items are subject to variation

  • Blocking: Arranging experimental units into groups or blocks which are similar to one another

  • Orthogonality: Forms of comparison or contrasts which are carried out legally and efficiently

  • Factorial Experiments: These evaluate effects and interactions of factors like independent variables

  • Experimental Studies

  • Observational Studies

  • Descriptive Studies

  • Blind Experiment

  • Pre/Post and Quasi-Experimental Designs

  • Randomized Controlled Trial: RCT is a scientific procedure using randomized control mainly used to test psychological intervention effectiveness

  • Controlled Clinical Trial: This is similar to an RCT, but subjects are not randomly assigned to control groups. This increases biasness chance

  • Nonrandomized Controlled Trial: Study in which people are allocated to different interventions using non-random methods

Research Ethics

Research Integrity

Research Misconduct – Fabrication, Falsification and Plagiarism

  • Randomized Controlled Trial: RCT is a scientific procedure using randomized control mainly used to test psychological intervention effectiveness

  • Controlled Clinical Trial: This is similar to an RCT, but subjects are not randomly assigned to control groups. This increases biasness chance

  • Nonrandomized Controlled Trial: Study in which people are allocated to different interventions using non-random methods

Positivistic Approach

Post-Positivistic Approach

Research Onion Model

A Priori and a Posteriori Knowledge

Positive vs. Normative

Nomothetic vs. Idiographic

Research Philosophies

A research philosophy is a belief about the way in which data about a phenomenon should be gathered, analyzed, and interpreted. The term epistemology (what is known to be true) as opposed to doxology (what is believed to be true) encompasses the various research philosophies. The purpose of science, then, is to transform things believed into things known. Two major research philosophies have been identified in the western tradition of science, namely, the positivist or scientific and interpretivist or anti-positivist.

Research Onion Model

Research philosophy plays a significant role in understanding and defining research design. It also dictates the approach to the research. As shown in the diagram research approach dictates the research strategy, which in turn affects the choice of time horizon and subsequently the data collection methods. A model is a structure or set of ‘basic beliefs’, which the researcher acquires and uses, to recognize the association between variables and to identify suitable methods for doing specific research. There are various research philosophies for social sciences such as positivism, realism, post-positivism, critical theory, and constructivism

Three Stages of Development of Positivism

1st – Comte, Mill, Spencer

2nd – Avenarius

3rd - neo-positivism - Vienna Circle and Berlin Society for Scientific Philosophy

Historically, there are three stages in the development of positivism:

  • First Sage of Positivism: The exponents of the first stage were Comte, E. Littre and P. Laffitte in France, J. S. Mill and Herbert Spencer in England. Alongside the problems of the theory of knowledge (Comte) and logic (Mill), the main place in the first positivism was assigned to sociology based on Comte’s idea of transforming society based on science and Spencer’s organic theory of society.

  • Second Stage in Positivism (Empirio-Criticism): It dates back to the 1870s-1890s and is associated with Ernst Mach and Avenarius, who renounced even formal recognition of objective real objects, which was a feature of early positivism. In Machism, the problems of cognition were interpreted from the viewpoint of extreme psychologism, which was merging with subjectivism. Here the personal or subjective interpretation was assigned to all objects and psychology was assumed to play a central role in grounding or explaining some other, non-psychological type of fact or law. Such beliefs returned the control of explaining the truths and facts back to the subject.

  • Third Stage in Positivism: The rise and formation of the latest positivism, or neo-positivism, is linked with Vienna Circle and Berlin Society for Scientific Philosophy, which combined trends like logical atomism, logical positivism, and semantics. The main place in the third positivism is taken by the philosophical problems of language, symbolic logic, the structure of scientific investigations. Having renounced psychologism, the exponents of the third positivism started reconciling the logic of science with mathematics and worked on formalization of epistemological problems.

5 Main Principles behind Positivism

Comte’s Law of Three Stages

Comte’s Hierarchy of Sciences

Logical Positivism, Sociological Positivism

  • Based on what Comte suggested we derive the main principles that govern positivism:

    • The logic of inquiry is the same across all sciences (both social and natural).

    • The goal of inquiry is to explain and predict, and thereby to discover necessary and sufficient conditions for any phenomenon.

    • Research should be empirically observable with human senses, and should use inductive logic to develop statements that can be tested.

    • Science is not the same as common sense, and researchers must be careful not to let common sense bias their research.

    • Science should be judged by logic, and should be as value-free as possible. The ultimate goal of science is to produce knowledge, regardless of politics, morals, values, etc.

  • These values state that positivism is closely connected to naturalism, reductionism, and verificationism, and it is very similar in its outlook to scientism. Later, in 20th century, it gave rise to the stricter doctrine of logical positivism. Positivism is opposed to the constructivist belief that scientific knowledge is constructed by scientists, and therefore not discovered from the world through strict scientific method.

Non-Positivism or Naturalistic Enquiry



Symbolic Interactionism

  • Exponent of non-positivism was Max Weber. Non-positivists emphasized that social reality is viewed and interpreted by individuals according to their ideological positions. Therefore, knowledge is personally experienced rather than acquired from or imposed from outside. The non-positivist believes that reality is multi layered and complex and a single phenomenon can have multiple interpretations. They emphasize that the verification of a phenomenon is done only when the level of understanding of a phenomenon is such that the concern is to probe into the various unexplored dimensions of a phenomenon.

  • Non-positivism is marked by three schools of thought. They are phenomenology, ethnomethodology, and symbolic interactionism.

    • Phenomenology: It attempts objective study of topics usually regarded as subjective. Such topics include consciousness and the content of conscious experiences such as judgements, perceptions, and emotions.

    • Ethnomethodology: It is a method of sociological analysis that examines how individuals use everyday conversation to construct a common-sense view of the world.

    • Symbolic Interactionism: This view of social behavior emphasizes linguistic or gestural communication and its subjective understanding, especially the role of language in the formation of the child as a social being.

  • All these schools emphasize human interactions with phenomenon in their daily lives and suggest qualitative rather than quantitative approaches to social inquiry. Interpretivist research methods derive from social action theory. Qualitative, biographical, phenomenological, ethnographical, case study approaches are the examples of non-positive approaches.

    For example, a study of drop outs among the female students, a case study of open distance learning institutions in the country, a study of auto biography of a great statesman etc.

  • The two paradigms of positivism and naturalistic enquiry are concerned with two concepts of social reality. While positivism stands for objectivity, measurability, predictability, controllability and construct laws, and rules of human behavior; non-positivist essentially emphasize understanding and interpretation of phenomena and making meaning out of this process.

Philosophy of Post-Positivism




  • Epistemology: Post-positivists believe that human knowledge is not based on a priori assessments from an objective individual, but upon human conjectures. As human knowledge is unavoidably conjectural, it can be modified in the light of further investigation. However, post-positivism generally retains the idea of objective truth.

  • Ontology: Post-positivists believe that a reality exists, but, unlike positivists, they believe that reality can be known only imperfectly and probabilistically. Post-positivists also draw from social constructionism in forming their understanding and definition of reality. Thus, they believe in jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality.

  • Axiology: Post-positivists take the position that bias is undesired but inevitable, and therefore the investigator must work to detect and correct it. Post-positivists work to understand how their axiology (values and beliefs) may have influenced their research, including through their choice of measures, populations, questions, and definitions, as well as through interpretation and analysis of their work.

Critical Realism

  • One of the most common forms of post-positivism is called critical realism. Critical realists believe that there is a reality independent of our thinking about it that science can study. Positivists were also realists. The difference is that the post-positivist critical realist recognizes that all observation is fallible and has error and that all theory is revisable. In other words, the critical realist is critical of human ability to know reality with certainty. It believes that the goal of science is to move closer and closer to a true understanding of reality, even though we can never achieve that goal.

  • Because all measurement is fallible, the post-positivist emphasizes the importance of multiple measures and observations, each of which may possess different types of error, and the need to use triangulation across these sources to get a better handle on reality. It also believes that all observations are theory-laden and that scientists are inherently biased by their cultural experiences, worldviews, and so on.

  • Positivists believed that objectivity was a characteristic that resided in the individual scientist. Post-positivists reject the idea that any individual can see the world perfectly as it really is. We are all biased and all of our observations are affected.

Thomas Kuhn’s Assessment of Post Positivistic Theory

Karl Popper and Ideas on Demarcation

Popper’s Idea of Falsifiability

  • Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)” brought about a paradigm shift in the way philosophers thought about science. The book was published in the Vienna Circle’s International Encyclopedia of Unified Science in 1962. It stimulated a profound change in the fundamental questions that defined the philosophy of science. It legitimated the introduction of the study of the history of science into the philosophy of science and thereby legitimated the perspective of sociological study of the actual practices of science. As a result, it cast into doubt the status of positivism as a theory of how the science enterprise actually works.

  • Thomas Kuhn went to propose that a post-positivist theory could be assessed based on whether it is accurate, consistent, has broad scope, parsimonious, and fruitful. All of these are standard criteria for evaluating the adequacy of a theory.

  • Accuracy: First, a theory should be accurate, within its domain. Deductions from a theory should be demonstrated to be in agreement with the results of existing experiments and observations.

  • Consistent: Second, a theory should be consistent, not only internally or with itself, but also with other currently accepted theories applicable to related aspects of nature.

  • Broad-Scope: Third, a theory should have broad scope. In particular, a theory’s consequences should extend far beyond the particular observations or laws it was initially designed to explain.

  • Simplicity: Fourth and closely related, it should have simplicity, bringing order to phenomena that in its absence would be individually isolated and confusing.

  • Fruitful: Fifth, a theory should be fruitful towards new research findings. That is, it should disclose new phenomena or new relationships among known phenomena.

Interpretivism or Anti-Positivism

  • Just as post-positivism followed positivism, interpretivism developed among researchers dissatisfied with post-positivism. The considered post-positivism theories to be too general and ill-suited to reflect the nuance and variability found in human interaction.

  • Interpretivism goes a step further than post-positivism and proposes that the social realm cannot be studied with the scientific method of investigation applied to nature, and that investigation of the social realm requires a different epistemology.

  • Interpretivists contend that reality can be fully understood only through the subjective interpretation. It is positioned at the subjective end of the paradigmatic continuum shown in the figure above. The study of phenomena in their natural environment is key to the interpretivist philosophy, together with the acknowledgement that scientists cannot avoid affecting those phenomena they study. They admit that there may be many interpretations of reality, but maintain that these interpretations are in themselves a part of the scientific knowledge they are pursuing.

  • Interpretivism can be defined as a strategy of social research that helps interpret social phenomena in terms of meanings. Thereby, the whole emphasis is on the social actors’ own language, experiences, and perceptions and not on the measurement and prediction of phenomena.

  • Interpretivists place a strong emphasis on qualitative methods to reason and build theory in a subjective way. Here, the whole emphasis is on the development and overall understanding of phenomena, rather than deriving possible causal relationships between various measures.

Social Constructionism

In ontological terms, interpretivists believe that social reality is subjective because it is socially constructed. For this reason, the phrase “social constructionism” is often used to describe this paradigmatic position, as the world is believed to be an emergent social process. Thus, there are multiple realities as each person has his or her own sense of reality. Knowledge in an interpretivist’s epistemology is a resultant outcome from everyday experiences, concepts, and meanings.

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