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Theories, theoretical and conceptual frameworks, models and constructs: Limiting research outcomes through misconceptions and misunderstandings

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Studies in Technology Enhanced Learning
Issue number1
Number of pages20
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Contributing to knowledge or theory is generally a standard requirement for research and doctoral studies. Whether that contribution should be from a research, policy or practice perspective is often not specifically stated as a requirement, yet one or all are certainly possible. A doctoral study (or indeed any research study) is usually quite firmly cast or framed within a form of theoretical or conceptual framework. Yet, even the definition, selection and formulation of a framework that is appropriate and that can inform a study throughout its various phases and stages is sometimes considered a ‘doctoral or research challenge’ in itself. This paper will argue that the way models, frameworks or theories - all of which in this current paper are collectively termed underpinnings - are conceived and used could well determine whether, how and to what extent a thesis or research study might contribute to a wider knowledge base. The paper offers a theoretical strategic analysis of the issue. It will explore what a conceptual or theoretical framework for a doctoral or wider research study is, what role or roles it can take, and whether, how and to what extent a study might contribute to knowledge or theory. The paper will conclude with ways to question approaches to roles of conceptual or theoretical underpinnings that do not limit the potential of a thesis or study to contribute to theory.