An introduction to theory and reasoning nursing (pg. 8-22):
Hermeneutics: the science of interpreting words and their evolving meanings.
Grand theory (metatheory): theory that is more abstract and broad in scope.
Middle-range theory: more narrow in scope and addresses specific practice-base issues.
Knowledge: what is identified and understood through the integration of education and experience.
Knowledge is dependent upon theory and research to provide an ongoing, cumulative, and organized
body of current information that can be used to answer questions, solve problems, explore phenomena and
generate new theory.
Epistemology: the study of knowledge (more specifically: the study of scope, methods, and validity of
Philosophies: broad, connected statements about believes and values and have the potential to guide
thinking and behavior of individuals, disciplines and societies (they may include theoretical components as
well as personal views and opinions).
Paradigm: 1) patterns or systems of beliefs about science and knowledge within and across disciples 2)
model or pattern.
Models: visual representations or diagrams that demonstrate theoretical relationships.
Research: diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation. Also used to describe 1) the actual process of
systematic inquiry (eg. when you research the answer to a question) 2) the outcomes of systematic inquiry
(eg. “research revealed that..”) 3) the study of the process of systematic inquiry (eg. taking a research course
within the nursing curriculum).
Reasoning: the cognitive process that allows us to think, identify relationships and form judgments about
Reasoning also provides us with the basis and justification for our actions.
Typology: a method of organizing or classifying information.
Phenomenon: THE MOST FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCK. Observable connections or
relationships between objects, events, people or ideas.
Noumena: similar to phenomena in that there is an awareness of a connection or relationship between
objects, events people or ideas. However, the connection or relationship is more of a perception than an
observation (making this connection/relationship intangible and difficult to be clearly identified in the form
Examples of noumena include: intuition that guides behavior, the importance faith plays in health, effect
of personal beliefs on decision making and etc.
Idea: the product of organized thought about the origin, nature, boundaries, and significance of a
phenomenon. Ideas consist of two or more concepts.
Concepts: the words or phases that identify, define, and establish structure and boundaries for ideas
generated about a particular phenomenon.
Concepts may be naturally occurring or they might be “constructed” by a theorist, researcher or
practicing nurse to assist in answering a question, solving a problem, or exploring a particular phenomenon.
Constructs: concepts that are created for a specific purpose and have measurable specifity.
Variables: concepts and constructs that have the ability to vary in their characteristics.
Variables can be internal (they are actually part of a specific relationship being examined), or external
(external to the relationship being examined but still have the ability to exert varying degrees of influence).
Conceptual definitions: broad, define a particular concept while usually retaining the root meaning or
definition of the word(s) involved (eg. sunlight = light that emanates from the sun).
Operational definition: a very specific and measurable form of the conceptual definition (eg. sunlight =
light emanating from the sun between 9am and 5pm during the first 30 consecutive days in May). Independent variables: influence or cause something to happen to another variable.
Dependent variable: the variable that has been influenced.
Proposition: a statement that has been put forward to describe the directional relationship between two or
more variables (eg. “increasing the amount of time a plant is in direct sunlight increases plant growth”).
Propositions demonstrate which variables are independent and which are dependent.
Axiom: a proposition that is asserted to be true.
Theorem: a proposition that has been deduced from an axiom and is either true or needs to be proven as
Assumptions: concepts or variables and propositions that are accepted as true.
Assumptions are not always evident, and they may be embedded within concepts, variables and
propositions and go unrecognized.
Hypotheses: formal, foundational statements describing an anticipated and measurable relationship
between two or more variables. Hypotheses form the basis of a quantitative research.
Speculative theory that has consistently proven to be valid and reliable through research becomes
Quantitative research: follows scientific, empirically based research methods involving hypothesis
testing and statistical analysis.
Qualitative research: focuses on analyzing phenomena (aka noumena) as they exist and occur naturally
(used in the study of human and animal behavior).
Triangulation: the use of combined methodologies in research (eg. nursing phenomena have both
quantitative and qualitative research).
Facts: research findings consistently proven true through replication o