By Johann Mouton, H. C. Marais

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Brown, 1985). The assumption that certain criteria of rationality apply across paradigms, ensures that the relativistic alternative is not regarded as the logical alternative to the traditional logicist interpretation. (This argument is discussed in more detail in Mouton, 1986). Our primary aim in the chapters in which we discuss issues of research design, is to indicate what is meant by rational decision making in the research process. In accordance with the epistemological position adopted in this book (see Chapter 1), this aim is to indicate how the researcher, by employing procedures of rational decision making, may increase the likelihood of generating valid research findings.

For this reason, it is the task of the reader to decide which of the factors discussed are likely to affect the validity of the research findings. VIEWING RESEARCH DESIGN AS MAXIMIZING VALIDITY As indicated in the previous section, the model of research decisions constitutes the frame of reference of this chapter and the subsequent ones. In this model we distinguish between the following five typical research decisions: (1) (2) Choice of a research topic. Problem formulation. 33 (3) (4) (5) Conceptualization and operationalization.

In terms of the definition of social sciences research which is used in this book, five dimensions are distinguished. These are the sociological, ontological, ideological, epistemological and methodological dimensions. The fact that we allude to five dimensions of social sciences research is already an indication that these five aspects are conceptually linked. For this reason, we have stressed that these dimensions are mutually determined. When we, therefore, turn our attention to the context of the research process as, for example, in the model of the practice of social sciences research in the previous section, the interdependence of the various dimensions is implied throughout.

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