OBJECTIVE: Pharmacy practice has gradually evolved with the paradigm shifted towards patient-focused practice or medicines optimisation. The advancement of pharmacy-related research has contributed to this progression, but the philosophy of research remained unexplored. This review was thus aimed to outline the succinct concept of research philosophy and its application in pharmacy practice research.
KEY FINDINGS: Research philosophy has been introduced to offer an alternative way to think about problem-driven research that is normally conducted. To clarify the research philosophy, four research paradigms, i.e. positivism (or empiricism), postpositivism (or realism), interpretivism (or constructivism) and pragmatism, are investigated according to philosophical realms, i.e. ontology, epistemology, axiology and logic of inquiry. With the application of research philosophy, some examples of quantitative and qualitative research were elaborated along with the conventional research approach. Understanding research philosophy is crucial for pharmacy researchers and pharmacists, as it underpins the choice of methodology and data collection.
CONCLUSIONS: The review provides the overview of research philosophy and its application in pharmacy practice research. Further discussion on this vital issue is warranted to help generate quality evidence for pharmacy practice.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.