The conceptual framework and the iterative elements of doctoral nursing research design
evidence and practice    

The conceptual framework and the iterative elements of doctoral nursing research design

Stewart Piper Former director, Studies, Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, Anglia Ruskin University, Peterborough, England
Peter Stokes Subject librarian, Anglia Ruskin University, Peterborough, England

Background Conceptual frameworks are central to doctoral nursing theses; they include the pragmatic and philosophical elements of the research design and their interrelationships. While the research process may seem to stem in a straightforward, linear manner from the research question, it is a more complex iterative enterprise.

Aim To build on Durham et al (2015) by reviewing the ostensibly static nature of research design and associated philosophical elements of the conceptual framework, reconsidering these in relation to the iterative nature of the research process, and translating these into implications for presenting the final draft of a doctoral nursing thesis.

Discussion All doctoral nursing theses will have limitations and experience difficulties. They do not follow a rigid, sequential process with a defined start and end, but progress tentatively, with the relationship between the elements of the research design and philosophical assumptions following an iterative process.

Conclusion The research design element of the conceptual framework of doctoral nursing theses should reflect the iterative reality of the process and the associated interrelationships that occur.

Implications for practice The absence in doctoral nursing theses of a full description of the philosophical and iterative processes of the research architecture and conceptual framework weakens the transparency of the research. Therefore, doctoral nursing students need to move beyond simple description of their inductive or deductive position and research design to help develop trust and confidence in their research.

Nurse Researcher. 28, 3, 10-15. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1683


Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared


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