Paradigm Structure in dissertation

The paradigm structure is relevant and central to solving the problem of
understanding for both PhD faculty and doctoral researchers, in regards to the
development of conceptual and theoretical frameworks. Scientific and scholarly
communities, utilizing quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods, have grappled with
issues of paradigm for generations. While many have come before Kuhn (1962; 1977;
2012), modern era research paradigm structures have followed Kuhn’s arguments and
themes, which have shaped critical direction for knowledge construction and scientific
community thinking. No matter what branch of scientific thinking or subject-content
specialization, or methodology tool employed, paradigm structure has held a primary
position; yet, often not in the awareness of novice researchers or faculty mentors. This
section will outline paradigm structure as it relates to a context of PhD dissertation
research design, and conceptual frameworks for study. Buy this dissertation writing here.

Kuhn (1962, 2012) was credited with establishing more than 22 definitions for
paradigm during his academic career (Hacking, 2012), writing on histories of science and
philosophy of science; commenting upon Einstein, Galileo, Bacon, Kant, and following
the lead of Karl Popper (1972), who was already famous for his writings on the history of
science (Hacking, 2012). Kuhn’s contributions were foundational for research practices
in fields other than subjects in his original observations, such as those of physics, history
and philosophy of science. Situating a research problem within a paradigm of theories,
concepts, and philosophical assumptions, allowed for both novice and advanced
researchers to clarify their focus and strategy. Pajares (n.d.) presented Kuhn’s paradigm
structure by organizing the main principles situating research problems within a known
scientific community’s beliefs: a) A scientific community cannot practice its trade
without some set of received beliefs (Kuhn, 2012, p. 4); b) These beliefs form the
foundation of the “educational initiation that prepares and licenses the student for
professional practice” (p. 5); c) The nature of the “rigorous and rigid” preparation helps
ensure that the received beliefs exert a “deep hold” on the student’s mind (p. 5); and, d)
Research “is a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes
supplied by professional education” (p. 5).

As scientific communities acquired their shared beliefs through past achievements,
newer achievements: a) must be sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group
of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity, and b) [must be]
sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of
practitioners (and their students) to resolve, i.e., research. These achievements were to be
called ‘paradigms’ (Pajares, n.d., citing Kuhn, 2012, p. 10). Young (1994, as cited in
Pajares, n.d.) respected but challenged Kuhn’s paradigm shift, using discoveries of
quantum physics, relativity of motion, and Plank’s quanta of action for movement of
light, to indicate while these and many other scientific achievements acted upon existing
paradigms, there was not to be a paradigm shift away from founding theories. In order to
establish a paradigm shift, newer theories must arise and those in the community of
shared beliefs must work to establish evidence that gives it credence. This does not
happen in everyday experience, but after years.

Alternative values or disagreements with Popper (1972), who was a leading
proponent of paradigm thinking and a peer of Kuhn, have come from natural science
authors who have referred to paradigm by other names in order to separate that term from
natural or experimental science’s trend in falsificationism (Popper, 1972; Hunt, 1991);
the practice of challenging popularly held statistical findings through nullifying
hypotheses in ways that were not in alignment with traditional research of the day. Hunt
(1991) alternatively described the purposes of science to explain how phenomena are
aligned and identified through theories and knowledge creation; taking a process with
which to examine and verify a phenomena, and in addition, focused more on assigning
meaning through theoretical concepts and purpose for research.

Malhotra (1994) defined scientific method of explanation for objective observation:
Although one can “know” through tenacity, authority, faith, intuition or science,
the method of science is distinct in its notion of intersubjective certification. In
other words, it should be possible for other investigators to ascertain the truth
content of scientific explanation(s). (para.8)

The science of consensus and the science of dissension were grown from separating
opinions between the accepted scientific method; theorists and researchers in large
numbers should accept a finding by consensus (Malhotra, 1994; Ziman, 1967); whereas
the scientific community who dissented on the popular opinions of findings had to
challenge with newer theoretical constructs. Ziman (1978) evaluated consensibility and
consensuality as primary aspects of ongoing scientific communication, where messages
and statements of members helped to verify the theory, even in the practical discussion in dissertation writing.
While one school of research targeted philosophical logical thinking to lend
credibility, sociologists were more adhering to strict scientific paths, even though
qualitative methodologies were still in the process of expanding applications of narrative
(Lauden, 1984). Research that had come to be known as part of a science of dissension
broke new ground for opposing viewpoints and challenges to traditional methods.

Hanson (1958) and Kuhn (1962) were among those challenging dissenters, arguing that
in truth, conventional science was always in a state of change; theory, methodological,
constructs of paradigm, no one overarching viewpoint could last and, that point should be
honestly acknowledged by those of the traditional scientific method (Kuhn, 1977).
Lauden (1984) distinguished between a controversial state in the scientific method
and community by presenting his dissension structure (or framework, or paradigm): 1)
thesis of theory incommensurability; 2) thesis of the under-determination of theories; 3)
phenomenon of successful counter-normal behavior [within the dissenting view]; and 4)
that the traditional scientific method was far more ‘controversy-laden’ than accepted
within that community (Malhotra, 1994). Incommensurability became a familiar term in
the dissension science viewpoint, and Feyerabend (1978; 1987) made the claim that
knowledge can be both certain and in flux at the same moment. Knowledge was to be
located in speech, behavior, natural settings, special individuals, or public viewpoints (p.
111), and not only established by theoretical advances or shared scientific beliefs. As a
structure of paradigm beliefs become less popular, new ones take their place, and
therefore, are not the only ‘deepened insight’ (1987, p. 106).

In summary, Hanson (1958), Kuhn (1962, 1977), and Popper (1972) provided
explanations for setting a challenge to conventional wisdom, and highlighted alternative
paths for philosophical schools such as logical positivism, logical empiricism (Anderson,
1983). After Kuhn’s paradigm structure, came changes to critical relativism and
scientific realism’s research thinking (Anderson, 1983; Lakatos, 1973; Lauden, 1984),
and whose communities were evolving in their acceptance for newer lines of approach.
Lauden (1984) and Lakatos (1973) agreed with Kuhn on the conceptual framework for
research; Lauden established his version of a ‘research tradition concept’, in alignment
with both rational science and the paradigm, whereas, Lakatos (1973) disagreed with
Kuhn’s beliefs and offered another assumption for practicing science called ‘alternative
world views’ which made allowances for differing or dissenting viewpoints. These
theses and others, set an alternative tone in describing theories, conceptual and
philosophical assumptions when doing research, and have become part of an ongoing
academic and scientific discussion.

In closing, this brief recounting of an evolution of research viewpoints, and the
place of paradigm structure by Kuhn (1977, 2012) were intended to be supportive of this
study’s inference that those who are doing research as doctoral candidates, as well as
those who guide researchers– such as faculty mentors, advisors, committee members, or
viva examiners—should have critical insight into how the paradigm structure acts to
situate research problems in the knowledge base. Theory, conceptual themes, context for
research, philosophical assumptions, and personal views, may be placed within the
paradigm and lend interpretive strategy. What follows are components of interpretive
strategy for research in the PhD dissertation (Figure 3).

Conceptual Framework in Research

Although previous sections of this study have outlined meanings of the term
‘conceptual framework’ for a doctoral research study (Boden & Kippers, 2012; Denzin &
Lincoln, 2011; Ravitch & Riggan, 2012), this section will briefly discuss conceptual
framework, both as an iterative guide for the PhD research study, and as a context for
research methodology selection. As well as, a frame which includes philosophical
assumptions and theoretical foundations.