Pragmatism in the mixed research method is not a new research strategy. It is as important as interpretivism in qualitative and positivism in quantitative research. The researches using pragmatism commonly provide more generalised results as it implies the combinatorial approach to investigate a fact. Thus, this article will discuss pragmatism in mixed research method, its basic principles, pragmatism in qualitative research and finally, some major differences between the pragmatism and realism.
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that, in broad terms, regards knowing the world as inextricably linked to the agency within it. This broad idea has spawned a remarkable rich and sometimes contradictory range of interpretations, including that all philosophical concepts should be tested through scientific experimentation, that a claim is true if and only if it is useful (relatedly: if a philosophical theory does not directly contribute to social progress, it is not worth much), that experience consists in transacting with nature rather than representing it, and that articulate language rests on a deep bed of knowledge.
Pragmatism emerged in the United States around 1870 and is now a growing third alternative to both analytic and ‘Continental’ philosophical traditions around the world. The so-called ‘classical pragmatists Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914), who first defined and defended the view, and his close friend and colleague William James (1842–1910), who further developed and ably popularised it, were the forerunners of its first generation. Although officially allied with absolute idealism, James’ Harvard colleague Josiah Royce (1855–1916) proved a valuable interlocutor for many of these ideas.
Pragmatism is a common philosophy in social and management sciences. Pragmatism is an American methodological approach. In English, the word ‘pragmatic’ means the act of searching most feasible solution to human problems. Likewise, in the academic literature, the term ‘pragmatic’ refers to benefits and relieving conditions for man. To put it another way, it aims to keep mankind happier by allowing it to cope with the physical environmental challenges and other people. Thus, pragmatism in research methods is least concerned with nature, reality, theoretical knowledge, and even universal laws. Rather, it primarily focuses on the scientific problem and research questions. Furthermore, pragmatism solely deals with what works best to answer the research questions.
While other research philosophies like positivism and interpretivism are the approaches that are highly structured and deal with either qualitative or quantitative studies, pragmatism in mixed research methods suggests that there are many other ways to explore the reality of the world. It also explains that a combinatorial approach having many techniques may provide a broader investigation of a fact under study. Thus, pragmatism in mixed research method suggests the researchers to use more than one research methods or techniques for better investigation.
In general, the pragmatist does not need evidence from universal facts to consider any piece of information true. For example, in a pragmatic approach, if the human thinks that the beauty of water lies in its transparency, then the transparent water will be considered beautiful without calling for evidence.
There are three main basic principles of pragmatism that underpin the use of a pragmatic approach to the scientific query.
This principle of pragmatism gives a view that every research must start from goals to gather useful and actionable knowledge. It also emphasises solving the existing problems and investigating indeterminate situations by designing effective habits and ways of inquiry.
The second principle of pragmatism in the mixed research method is to explore the possible connection between knowledge, experiences and acting. This principle explains that while solving a scientific problem, one should make a decision on the basis of experience. Thus, pragmatism emphasises using knowledge or experience to define the research actions.
The third principle of pragmatism in mixed research method employs a basic rule of investigation or scientific inquiry. According to this principle, we should link briefs and actions through the decision-making process or experiments.
As we all know, qualitative researches are ones that deal with non-statistical, non-numerical and textual data. The pragmatism in qualitative research is most suitable for Implementation Science (IS) researchers. Implementation sciences refer to the study of scientific methods to ensure the systematic penetration of research findings. It also includes other evidence-based practices to improve the effectiveness and quality of health services and routine practices. Thus, pragmatism in qualitative research means the use of more than one research strategy and borrowing the qualitative approaches to fulfil the requirements of a study.
Most of the researchers consider pragmatism only for the mixed research design (dealing with both qualitative and quantitative methods). This is true in one sense, as pragmatism itself imparts the sense of the combination of different approaches. We usually call the type of qualitative research involving a variety of methods to answer what works best to solve a research problem or to answer the research questions. Of course, this case also lies under the umbrella of the pragmatism approach.
The pragmatism approach is not at all new to qualitative researches. In fact, it is unique and very little literature evidence of this concept is present in literature. Thus, the most obvious challenge in using the pragmatism approach in qualitative research is establishing a valid connection between the established pragmatic approaches with the qualitative design of the study. This is the reason that most of students prefer to get PhD dissertation help in case of issues.
Other than pragmatism in mixed research methods, the realist approach is also common in social and management sciences. Realism in research suggests the idea of the independence of reality from human thoughts. This method of investigation relies on the assumption of a scientific approach for gathering subject-specific knowledge. The realism itself is divided into direct and critical approaches. Thus, in realism, a researcher accepts a situation as it is and then opts for the methodology accordingly. But as described earlier, the pragmatism in mixed research method is the doctrine philosophy that explains practical consequences by meanings, value and certain criteria of knowledge.
Realism favours practicality and relies on the practical facts of life. But pragmatism is more concerned about what criteria of knowledge, its meaning and values in sciences, as described by the above definition. In other words, pragmatism focuses on the practicality of already calculated data, while the approach that explains the accuracy of the data is simply realism. In simple words, realism is something about the brief you hold. At the same time, pragmatism is all about what and why approaches to doing something in research. Thus, in broader terms, realism considers brief concepts while pragmatism deals with what and why aspects of doing an act.
As a big picture, when the truth of a brief is tested by applying it to the world’s phenomenon, then it will be the subject of the pragmatism approach. Here, the researcher takes a position on the basis of knowledge. In academics, realism is the philosophy that the subject and phenomenon in this world exists irrespective of your personal perspectives.
Consequently, pragmatism in mixed research method aims to solve research questions by encountering the knowledge, meaning and values. It often demands theoretical evidence to prove a fact. It relies on the practicality of the facts. You can also use them in qualitative research, but remember, there is a very little guidance in literature regarding the use of a pragmatic approach to qualitative research.
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