Evid Based Nurs 17:31 doi:10.1136/eb-2014-101738
  • Editorial

The science and art of theoretical location

  1. Sally Thorne
  1. School of Nursing University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to
    : Professor Sally Thorne, School of Nursing University of British Columbia, T201-2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6LT 2B5; sally.thorne{at}

Convention dictates that qualitative nursing inquiries ought to be firmly positioned within a theoretical framework.1 The rationale for this convention derives from an understanding of general science, wherein observations must be sequentially aligned with prior observations along stepwise theoretical lines in order to credibly contribute to the discovery of new truths. Qualitative methods primarily came to us from the social sciences, whose intellectual projects were oriented around theorising rather than truth discovery per se. However, in the social science context, each new study did have to signal which ongoing theoretical conversation it was intending to join. So in adapting qualitative technique to the business of knowledge-building in nursing, we absorbed the idea that a study must be positioned within an explicit theoretical framework as a hallmark of good social science practice. And although some of the problems with that practice have been acknowledged in …

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