A metatheoretical ‘wrapper’ which brings together axiology, epistemology, ontology and methodology. Sometimes used synonmously with methodology, sometimes with theoretical framework, though these terms all differ and ‘paradigm’ is a distinct entity. It describes the overall worldview of a piece of research. Coherence between axiology, epistemology, ontology and methodology within a study is essential to research rigour.


Short definition

The nature of reality – the extent and way in which an entity or object of study ‘exists’.

Summary (bullet points)

  • A set of common beliefs about research – a shared worldview
  • Guides decisions regarding methodology and methods
  • Clear consideration of one’s paradigm helps ensure research rigour and assists researchers in answering their research questions in a coherent way

Classification (s)

Research Term

Classification (s)


Foundational paper (s)

Bunniss S, Kelly DR. Research paradigms in medical education research. Medical education. 2010 Apr;44(4):358-66.