Epistemological Pluralism in Research Synthesis Methods

Published: 
Sep. 01, 2013

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 26, Issue 7, 2013, pages 889-911


The purpose of research synthesis is to produce new knowledge by making explicit connections and tensions between individual study reports that were not visible before.
Every effort of synthesizing research is inevitably premised on certain epistemological assumptions.
It is crucial that research synthesists reflect critically on how their epistemological positioning enables them to pursue certain purposes while preventing them from pursuing other purposes.

The literature on research synthesis methods is dominated by publications premised on positivist assumptions.
Contesting the hegemony of positivist research syntheses, this article makes a case for research syntheses that are informed by diverse epistemological orientations.
The article illuminates how research syntheses with distinct epistemological orientations can serve complementary, equally worthwhile, purposes.

Updated: Jan. 20, 2014
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