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Integration of a theoretical framework into your research study
  1. Roberta Heale1,
  2. Helen Noble2
  1. 1 Laurentian University, School of Nursing, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Queens University Belfast, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Roberta Heale, School of Nursing, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, P3E2C6, Canada; rheale{at}laurentian.ca

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Often the most difficult part of a research study is preparing the proposal based around a theoretical or philosophical framework. Graduate students ‘…express confusion, a lack of knowledge, and frustration with the challenge of choosing a theoretical framework and understanding how to apply it’.1 However, the importance in understanding and applying a theoretical framework in research cannot be overestimated.

The choice of a theoretical framework for a research study is often a reflection of the researcher’s ontological (nature of being) and epistemological (theory of knowledge) perspective. We will not delve into these concepts, or personal philosophy in this article. Rather we will focus on how a theoretical framework can be integrated into research.

The theoretical framework is a blueprint for your research project1 and serves several purposes. It informs the problem you have identified, the purpose and significance of your research demonstrating how your research fits with what is already known (relationship to existing theory and research). This provides a basis for your research questions, the literature review and the methodology and analysis that you choose.1 Evidence of your chosen theoretical framework should be visible in every aspect of your research and should demonstrate the contribution of this research to knowledge.2

What is a theory?

A theory is an explanation of a concept or an abstract idea of a phenomenon. An example of a theory is Bandura’s middle …

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