A Positive approach to research is based on acceptance as fact that the world around us is real, and that we can find out about these realities. There is an order made up of atomistic, discrete and observable events. Knowledge is derived using scientific method and based on sensory experience gained through experiments or comparative analysis. It aims at developing a unique and elegant description of any chosen aspect of the world that is true regardless of what people think. By developing these scientific facts, knowledge is built up in a cumulative fashion, despite some false starts. Science builds on what is already known, for example, even Einstein’s radical theories are a development from Newton’s. The approach to knowledge is reductionist in character, by maintaining that less measurable sciences are reducible to more measurable ones. Sociology is reducible to psychology, psychology to biology, biology to chemistry, and chemistry to physics. Social sciences can therefore be value free and objective.
Post-positivism is a contemporary paradigm that emerged as a result of the criticism of positivism. Similar to positivists, post positivists also believe in the existence of a one single reality, however, they acknowledge that reality can never be fully known and efforts to understand reality are limited owing to the human beings’ sensory and intellectual limitations. The aim of post positivist research is more directed towards prediction and explanation. Similar to positivists, post positivists also aim for objectivity, neutrality and try to ensure that the findings fit into the existing knowledge base. However, unlike positivists, they acknowledge and explicitly mention any predispositions that may affect the objectivity.
Research conducted under both of these paradigms is usually quantitative where a hypothesis is tested while the researcher remains objective and often separate from the area of investigation.