Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Engaging with postgraduate research: education, childhood & youth
Engaging with postgraduate research: education, childhood & youth

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.


As researchers, you need to pay attention to the ontological and epistemological positions that underpin the research you read about. This is not as straightforward as it seems because these views are often not explicitly written into published work. To identify the position taken in a study, it is helpful to look carefully at the methodological approach, to look carefully at the decisions that have been taken about the research process and think about what the researcher appears to consider to be valid knowledge.

As researchers, you should take responsibility to be transparent about your own positions when conducting and designing your own research. You will have seen how important this is in judging the quality of research, as covered in Activity 7 with regard to journal articles and applications for funding. Developing the understanding and language to offer these rationales is supported in Masters and Doctoral level study and this course has been designed to offer an introduction and explanation for the value of this.

You should now be able to:

  • appreciate why theory is relevant to and important for research
  • recognise how research perspectives offer ways of linking theory to the practice of research
  • understand what a research paradigm is and how paradigms can be distinguished from each other
  • recognise how the choice of a research paradigm and its associated research methodology relates to how a research problem or enquiry is conceptualised
  • understand how different research positions have led to different views about what counts as evidence and, as a consequence, what is judged to be valuable or reliable evidence in research
  • appreciate how having a clear view of the theories and concepts informing a study offers a useful framework for research.

We hope you have found the ideas in this course interesting and that this has whetted your appetite to take your interest in research further! This course only starts you off on your journey to understanding how to evaluate research, by thinking about one fundamental part of the research process. If you want to know more there are various ways in which you can follow up your interest.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of postgraduate level study in Education, Childhood & Youth. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Find out more about Postgraduate study with The Open University by visiting our online prospectus.