Abend, Gabriel. Theory Building in Applied Disciplines. A theoretical framework consists of concepts and, together with their definitions and reference to relevant scholarly literature, existing theory that is used for your particular study. The theoretical framework must demonstrate an understanding of theories and concepts that are relevant to the topic of your research paper and that relate to the broader areas of knowledge being considered.
The theoretical framework is most often not something readily found within the literature. You must review course readings and pertinent research studies for theories and analytic models that are relevant to the research problem you are investigating. The selection of a theory should depend on its appropriateness, ease of application, and explanatory power. The theoretical framework strengthens the study in the following ways :. By virtue of its applicative nature, good theory in the social sciences is of value precisely because it fulfills one primary purpose: to explain the meaning, nature, and challenges associated with a phenomenon, often experienced but unexplained in the world in which we live, so that we may use that knowledge and understanding to act in more informed and effective ways.
The Conceptual Framework. College of Education. What is Theory? Writing CSU.
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Second edition. Philosophy of Research.
Research Methods Knowledge Base. The Practitioner-Researcher. Developing Theory from Practice. Developing the Framework. Here are some strategies to develop of an effective theoretical framework:. A theoretical framework is used to limit the scope of the relevant data by focusing on specific variables and defining the specific viewpoint [framework] that the researcher will take in analyzing and interpreting the data to be gathered. It also facilitates the understanding of concepts and variables according to given definitions and builds new knowledge by validating or challenging theoretical assumptions.
Think of theories as the conceptual basis for understanding, analyzing, and designing ways to investigate relationships within social systems. To that end, the following roles served by a theory can help guide the development of your framework.
Model Papers from the Disciplines | Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning
Adapted from: Torraco, R. Holton III , editors. The theoretical framework may be rooted in a specific theory , in which case, your work is expected to test the validity of that existing theory in relation to specific events, issues, or phenomena. Many social science research papers fit into this rubric. For example, Peripheral Realism Theory, which categorizes perceived differences among nation-states as those that give orders, those that obey, and those that rebel, could be used as a means for understanding conflicted relationships among countries in Africa.
A test of this theory could be the following: Does Peripheral Realism Theory help explain intra-state actions, such as, the disputed split between southern and northern Sudan that led to the creation of two nations? However, you may not always be asked by your professor to test a specific theory in your paper, but to develop your own framework from which your analysis of the research problem is derived.
Based upon the above example, it is perhaps easiest to understand the nature and function of a theoretical framework if it is viewed as an answer to two basic questions:. The answers to these questions come from a thorough review of the literature and your course readings [summarized and analyzed in the next section of your paper] and the gaps in the research that emerge from the review process.
With this in mind, a complete theoretical framework will likely not emerge until after you have completed a thorough review of the literature. Just as a research problem in your paper requires contextualization and background information, a theory requires a framework for understanding its application to the topic being investigated. When writing and revising this part of your research paper, keep in mind the following:. College of Engineering.
Model Papers from the Disciplines
University of Michigan; Drafting an Argument. Demystifying the Journal Article. Richard Swedberg, editor. Borrowing Theoretical Constructs from Elsewhere. An increasingly important trend in the social and behavioral sciences is to think about and attempt to understand research problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. One way to do this is to not rely exclusively on the theories developed within your particular discipline, but to think about how an issue might be informed by theories developed in other disciplines.
For example, if you are a political science student studying the rhetorical strategies used by female incumbents in state legislature campaigns, theories about the use of language could be derived, not only from political science, but linguistics, communication studies, philosophy, psychology, and, in this particular case, feminist studies. Building theoretical frameworks based on the postulates and hypotheses developed in other disciplinary contexts can be both enlightening and an effective way to be more engaged in the research topic. CohenMiller, A. Elizabeth Pate. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity.
New York: Oxford University Press, Don't Undertheorize! Do not leave the theory hanging out there in the introduction never to be mentioned again. Undertheorizing weakens your paper. The theoretical framework you describe should guide your study throughout the paper. Be sure to always connect theory to the review of pertinent literature and to explain in the discussion part of your paper how the theoretical framework you chose supports analysis of the research problem or, if appropriate, how the theoretical framework was found to be inadequate in explaining the phenomenon you were investigating.
In that case, don't be afraid to propose your own theory based on your findings. What's a Theory? What's a Hypothesis? The terms theory and hypothesis are often used interchangeably in newspapers and popular magazines and in non-academic settings.
Importance of Theory
However, the difference between theory and hypothesis in scholarly research is important, particularly when using an experimental design. A theory is a well-established principle that has been developed to explain some aspect of the natural world. Fisher and Herbert A. A set of related papers dealing with the meaning of causality in simulataneous dynamic equation systems. Investigation of the systems which only approximately satisfy the conditions enabling the definition of causality, leads to a set of limiting theorems concerning the dynamic behavior of such systems over time, and estimation procedures for the parameters of such systems.
Implications of these theorems for some well-known propositions in economics and other social sciences are considered.
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