- RESEARCH – Process of inquiry
- THEORY – Product of knowledge
- SCIENCE – Result of the relationship between research
- To effectively build knowledge to research process
should be developed within some theoretical structure
that facilities analysis and interpretation of findings.
- Relationship between theory and research in nursing is
not well understood.
- Research without theory results in discreet
information or data which does not add to the
accumulated knowledge of the discipline.
- Theory guides the research process, forms the research
questions, aids in design, analysis and interpretation.
- It enables the scientist to weave the facts together.
- The relationship is direct and positive
- The choice of a research design depends on the
question asked and the current state of theory
development. (Kaiser Permanente, 2009)
- Theory and its associated research design may be
- Nursing science is blend of knowledge that is unique
to nursing and knowledge that is borrowed from other
- Debate is whether the use of borrowed theory has
hindered the development of the discipline.
- It has contributed to problems connecting research and
theory in nursing.
- Florence Nightingale supported her theoretical
propositions through research, as statistical data and
prepared graphs were used to depict the impact of
nursing care on the health of British soldiers.
- Afterwards, for almost century reports of nursing
research were rare.
- Research and theory developed separately in nursing.
- Between 1928 and 1959 only 2 out of 152 studies
reported a theoretical basis for the research design.
- In 1970’s growing number of nurse theorists were
seeking researchers to test their models in research and
- Grand nursing theories are still not widely used. In
1990’s borrowed theories were used more.
- Now the focus of research and theory have moved more
towards middle range theories
- To identify meaningful and relevant areas for study.
- To propose plausible approaches to health problems.
- To develop or refine theories
- Define the concepts and proposed relationships between
- To interpret research findings
- To develop clinical practice protocols.
- To generate nursing diagnosis.
Bordage (2009) explainsuse of conceptual frameworks in
- Allow researchers to build upon one another’s work;
thereby building a body of knowledge
- Programmatic, conceptually based research helps
accumulate deeper understanding over time and this moves
a discipline (such as nursing) forward.
Type of theory
Type of research
- Descriptive or explanatory
- Co relational
- It is designed to develop and describe relationships
between and among phenomena without imposing
- It is inductive and includes field observations and
- During the theory generating process, the researcher
moves by logical thought from fact to theory by means of
a proposition stated as an empirical generalization.
- Inductive research technique developed by Glazer and
- Grounded theory provides a way to describe what is
happening and understanding the process of why it
- Methodology – The researcher observes, collects data,
organizes data and forms theory from the data at the
- Data may be collected by interview, observation,
records or a combination of these techniques.
- Data are coded in preparation for analysis.
- Category development – Categories are identified and
- Category saturation – Comparison of similar
characteristics in each of the categories
- Concept development – Defines the categories
- Search for additional categories – Continues to
examine the data for additional categories
- Category reduction – Higher order categories are
- Linking of categories – The researcher seeks to
understand relationships among categories
- Selective sampling of the literature
- Emergence of the core variable – Central theme are
focus of the theory
- Concept modification and integration – Explaining the
- In theory testing research, theoretical statements are
translated into questions and hypothesis. It requires a
deductive reasoning process.
- The interpretation determines whether the study
supports are contradicts the propositional statement.
- If a conceptual model is used as a theoretical
framework for research it is not theory testing.
- Theory testing requires detailed examination of
- Problem being investigated is fit into an existing
theoretical framework, which guides the study and
enriches the value of its findings.
- The conceptual definitions are drawn from the
- The data collection instrument is congruent with the
- Findings are interpreted in light of explanations
provided by the framework.
- Implications are based on the explanatory power of a
- Deductive research
- Quantitative research
- The scientific method
- Theory / hypothesis testing
- Inductive research
- Qualitative research
- Phenomenological research
- Theory generation
- ‘Divining’; ‘heuristic’ research
Guidelines for writing about a research study’s
- Introduce the framework
- Briefly explain why it is a good fit for the research
- At the end of the literature review
- Thoroughly describe the framework and explain its
application to the present study.
- Describe how the framework has been used in studies
about similar problems
- In the study’s methodology section
- Explain how the framework is being operationalized in
the study’s design.
- Explain how data collection methods (such as
questionnaire items) reflect the concepts in the
- In the study’s discussion section
- Describe how study findings are consistent (or
inconsistent) with the framework.
- Offer suggestions for practice and further research
that are congruent with the framework’s concepts and
The relationship between research and
theory is undeniable, and it is important to recognize the
impact of this relationships on the development of nursing
knowledge. So interface theory and research by generating
theories, testing the theories and by using it as a
conceptual framework that drives the study.
- George B. Julia , Nursing Theories- The base for
professional Nursing Practice , 3rd ed. Norwalk,
Appleton and Lange.
- Polit DF, Hungler BP. Nursing Research: Principles and
Methods. Philadelphia: JB Lippincott Company; 1998.
- Burns N, Grove SK. The practice of Nursing Research.
4th Ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders Publications;
- Treece JW, Treece EW. Elements of Research in Nursing
(3rded.). St. Louis: Mosby; 1982.
- Nursing Research Series. Essentials of Science:
Methods, Appraisal and Utilization. Kaiser Permanente.
Northern and Southern California Nursing Research, 2009.