This chapter will examine how educationalists make judgements about their research activities, whether such judgements are legitimate, and whether the nature of the social world (in particular those activities and behaviours which have come to be known as educational) can support a clear set of specifications as to how it should be understood. In addressing these questions, ontological and epistemological concerns will be to the fore. Indeed, an assumption will be made that empirical research method cannot be divorced from social theory. How we understand the social world will determine how we know it and this in turn will influence how we collect data about it. These moments, therefore, are interconnected, with answers to the one delimiting and excluding possible answers to the other two. They refer specifically to ontology, epistemology and methodology (Guba and Lincoln 1994); and though at some points they are only loosely coupled (see the argument about the relationship between method and methodological framework in Chapter 4), the connections are strong enough for it to be possible to organise them in research paradigms. A research paradigm can be identified by its ontological, epistemological and methodological stances and by the relations between them. It can further be distinguished by the types of evaluative criteria which practitioners develop to judge quality in research.