Distinguish frameworks from theories

Framework/Theory Analysis and Evaluation
Theory is usually constructed to express a unique, unifying idea about a phenomenon that answers previously unanswered questions and provides new insights into the nature of the phenomenon. A theory attempts to establish a parsimonious, precise example, or model, of the real world or the world as it is experienced. Thus, theory is defined as a set of interrelated relational statements about a phenomenon that is useful for description, explanation, prediction and prescription or control.

—Walker and Avant, 2011, p. 193

In Week 5, you examined relationships between and among concepts related to your phenomenon of interest. Both frameworks and theories relate concepts together in a meaningful way, although as you explored at the beginning of this course, theories exist further along a continuum of describing, explaining, predicting, and controlling a phenomenon.
In this week’s Discussion, you examine more closely the distinctions between frameworks and theories. You search the literature related to your phenomenon of interest, analyze existing frameworks or theories, and evaluate each framework/theory for the purposes of your theoretical foundation. In the Assignment, you begin to write a partial draft of a paper describing your theoretical foundation for research, which is due by Day 7 of Week 7.
Learning Objectives
Students will:
Distinguish frameworks from theories
Analyze the strengths of frameworks/theories
Analyze the weaknesses of frameworks/theories
Evaluate the applicability of frameworks/theories to phenomena of interest
Apply analytic methods to the development of theoretical foundations for research
Analysis and Evaluation of Frameworks and Theories
Theory analysis is particularly helpful in research because it provides a clear idea of the form and structure of the theory in addition to the relevance of content, and inconsistencies and gaps present. The ‘missing links’ or inconsistencies are fruitful sources of new research ideas. They also point to the next hypotheses that need to be tested.

—Walker and Avant, 2011, p. 206

Nurse scientists often find that examining the literature is a productive way to see how existing frameworks and theories have been applied in other research studies. By engaging in this process, they may gain insights about a particular framework or theory, be able to identify gaps in research, or uncover new questions they are eager to explore.
In this Discussion, you analyze existing frameworks/theories using the procedure proposed by Walker and Avant. Your analysis should provide an objective understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each framework or theory. This, in turn, should enable you to evaluate whether the framework/theory is useful for the purposes of your theoretical foundation for a program of research.
To prepare
Review the information that Dr. Hathaway presents in the Week 1 media program, “Theoretical Foundation for Research,” regarding the phases of theory development and the similarities and differences between frameworks and theories.
Search the literature and identify two frameworks/theories that may be useful for investigating your phenomenon of interest.
Review the procedure for theory analysis presented in Chapter 12 of Walker and Avant (2011). Apply these steps to each framework/theory you have selected and identify the strengths and weaknesses of each framework/theory. Determine whether additional development or refinement is needed (i.e., for each framework, identify which aspects would require further research in order for it to meet the requirements of a theory).
Evaluate the value of each framework/theory for addressing your phenomenon. Determine which framework/theory has the most potential for use as part of your theoretical foundation of your research.
Think about any questions you have related to theory analysis and evaluation.

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