Conceptual frameworks and terminology in doctoral nursing research
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Conceptual frameworks and terminology in doctoral nursing research

Wendy Durham Practice educator, Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, UK
Chris Sykes Education development manager, Norfolk and Suffolk Workforce Partnership, UK
Stewart Piper Senior lecturer, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Anglia Ruskin University, Peterborough, UK
Peter Stokes Subject librarian, Anglia Ruskin University, Peterborough, UK

Aim To define conceptual frameworks and their inherent dichotomies, and integrate them with concomitant concepts to help early nursing doctoral researchers to develop their understanding of and engage with discourse further, so that nursing can demonstrate its ability to contribute to the meta-theoretical debate of doctoral research alongside other practices and theory-based disciplines.

Background Conceptual frameworks are central to nursing doctoral studies as they map and contextualise the philosophical assumptions of the research in relation to paradigms and ontological, epistemological and methodological foundations. They shape all aspects of the research design and provide a structure for theorising. They can also be a challenge for researchers and are under-discussed in the literature.

Review methods Literature review.

Discussion The key aspects of the conceptual framework debate in terms of objectivist, subjectivist paradigms and the wider paradigm debate, including retroduction and abduction, are reviewed here together with consideration of how these apply to nursing doctoral research.

Conclusion Conceptual frameworks are pivotal to nursing doctoral research as they clarify and integrate philosophical, methodological and pragmatic aspects of doctoral thesis while helping the profession to be seen as a research-based discipline, comfortable with the language of meta-theoretical debate.

Implications for research/practice Conceptual frameworks should form the methodological foundation for all nursing doctoral research.

Nurse Researcher. 23, 2, 8-12. doi: 10.7748/nr.23.2.8.s3

Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 18 March 2015

Accepted: 22 May 2015

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