Understanding and Evaluating Research: A Critical Guide shows students how to be critical consumers of research and to appreciate the power of methodology as it shapes the research question, the use of theory in the study, the methods used, and how the outcomes are reported. The book starts with what it means to be a critical and uncritical reader of research, followed by a detailed chapter on methodology, and then proceeds to a discussion of each component of a research article as it is informed by the methodology. The book encourages readers to select an article from their discipline, learning along the way how to assess each component of the article and come to a judgment of its rigor or quality as a scholarly report.

Conceptual and Theoretical Papers

Conceptual and Theoretical Papers

Learning Objectives

  • Appreciate the double meaning of conceptual framework
  • Compare and contrast the purpose of conceptual versus theoretical papers
  • Identify the structural elements of both conceptual and theoretical papers
  • Explain the special role played by the literature review in both types of papers
  • Describe the idea of writing a theory paper based on how far it has been conceptualized, operationalized, tested, and applied
  • Explain the four criteria appropriate for judging argumentative rigor in conceptual and theoretical papers (especially analytical and generative reasoning)


Chapter 3 provided a detailed discussion of the role of conceptual frameworks, theories, and models when conducting research. This chapter is about how to write a paper that reports a new theory or a conceptual framework, which may or may not have ...

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