Theory and concepts in PG research
This narrated PowerPoint presentation discusses the role of theory and concepts in postgraduate research. It unpacks the meaning of the two terms, and how they are related, making the case for theory as ‘tool’ in research that needs to be firmly connected to methodology, and data analysis. The video argues that postgraduate researchers need to select and ‘build’ a theoretical or conceptual framework for their study, and draw the theory they have chosen into the analysis of their data. This will enable researchers to analyse, rather than describe their data, in relation to the theory, and in relation to the field in which their research is situated. In other words, they will be able to use their data to make meaning of the natural or social world in ways that connect their small-scale studies with deeper, more abstracted or generalised meanings. In so doing, the postgraduate research findings can make a more powerful contribution to knowledge, and the communities of practice PG students are connected to.
Who else might find this useful?
This material is primarily for postgraduate students to use to unpack and think about their own theory and concepts, and the work they want them to do (with the worksheet). However, the video and/or worksheet could be used in workshops with students run by postgraduate and/or writing support practitioners.
Explore these additional resources
- Thinking about theory: https://patthomson.net/2014/07/07/explaining-and-justifying-the-use-of-theory-via-a-sentence-skeleton/; https://patthomson.net/2012/08/10/thinking-about-theory/
- Building a theoretical framework: https://thesiswhisperer.com/2012/07/26/theory-anxiety/; https://phdinahundredsteps.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/concepts-and-theory-constructing-a-gaze-for-your-study/; https://phdinahundredsteps.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/building-a-theoretical-framework-for-your-study/
This related resource unpacks the process of moving from a research problem to a suitable framework that students could build. It can be used by students on their own, or supervisors and PG support staff could use this to assist students in making clear their argument for which theory and concepts they have chosen, and why.