Refinement of the Theoretical Foundation for Research
By this point in the course, you have developed each of the elements of your theoretical foundation for research. Yet, the development of a theoretical foundation is a highly iterative process that requires critical thinking, reflection, and creativity, which often leads to reappraisal and revision.
This week, take time to assess the entirety of your work on your theoretical foundation for research. Ask yourself incisive questions, such as:
Which aspects of my theoretical foundation may not be feasible for dissertation research or a similar program of research?
What could I rule out or adapt in my foundation to make my future research more manageable?
Do I need to consult additional sources in the literature to strengthen my theoretical foundation?
Are there places where I am stuck? If so, would it help to brainstorm ideas with colleagues?
Are there inconsistencies in my work that need to be addressed?
Is my work coherent, integrated, focused, and cogent? How can I improve it?
Refining the Theoretical Foundation for Research
Cassandra felt a huge sense of relief as she saw all of the elements of her theoretical foundation come together. She had invested a lot of time and energy into understanding her selected phenomenon and she was confident that she was on her way to developing a strong program of research. She was happy to set aside the work and enjoy some much-needed rest. When she looked at the partial draft of her paper again a few days later, she was surprised to notice a significant inconsistency in how she defined one of the concepts. With fresh eyes, she was able to discover something she had been overlooking for weeks! Now, it seemed like she would need to start at the beginning again to clarify the meaning of this concept.
Since Eduardo first began developing his theoretical foundation for research, a small, quiet voice had been nagging for his attention. He thought that he would understand certain aspects of his phenomenon better by now, and it bothered him that parts of his foundation still did not seem to work together. On the one hand, he reassured himself that his theoretical foundation was probably good enough for now and his confusion was due to his inexperience with the whole research process. On the other hand, he wondered if his doubts could mean that his theoretical foundation was missing something critical. He wasn’t sure what to do.
As Taylor thought more deeply about her theoretical foundation, she wondered if she was using the right symbols to convey the information as she intended. She had already revised her graphic model a number of times, and she still wasn’t sure if it made sense. Finally, she realized that she really needed others’ input, because even if it did seem logical to her, it might not be clear to others who were less familiar with her phenomenon of interest.
What questions or concerns have you encountered while developing your theoretical foundation for research? What kind of feedback would you like to receive from your colleagues as you refine your work?
In this Discussion, you have the opportunity to share your dilemmas and request support to help you hone your theoretical foundation for research. In addition, you can offer ideas and encouragement to your colleagues.