How to write the theoretical and Scientific Foundations of Nursing Research

How to write the theoretical and Scientific Foundations of Nursing Research

For any discipline, concepts form the most basic building blocks of scientific knowledge or theoretical frameworks. Concept analysis represents the strategy of examining concepts for their structure to determine definitive attributes (McEwen & Wills, 2019). In nursing research, concept analysis allows the researcher to formulate clear and concise operational definitions and choosing of research methods. Because of the complexity of the process, various concept analysis methods exist. This discussion focuses on two methods of concept analysis, the Walker and Avant method and the Rodgers method.

The Walker and Avant method of concept analysis is based on Wilson’s 8-step method of concept analysis. This method was first published in 1983 and has been used since to inform decisions in scientific research. The Walker and Avant method is based on three different processes of analyzing concepts including concept analysis, concept synthesis, and concept derivation (McEwen & Wills, 2019). The analysis part involves the definition of key terms so that the writer and the reader share a common language. Like Wilson’s methods, the concept analysis phase using Walker and Avant method contains eight steps. After analyzing concepts, the second step involves concept synthesis using qualitative, quantitative, and literary methods (McEwen & Wills, 2019). The last step involves concept derivation to generate new ways of thinking about a phenomenon of interest.

The Rodgers method of concept analysis was developed in 1989 based on the fact that concepts are dynamic and context-dependent. Rodgers observed that goals during research may change making the continuous definition of concepts important to achieve more useful meaning (Rodgers et al., 2018). One of the most important aspects of this method is the evolutionary view of concepts. Rodgers explained that the goal of concept analysis influences how researchers identify concepts of interest and other things like setting selection, sampling, and data collection (McEwen & Wills, 2019). Unlike the Walker and Avant method comprising eight steps, the Rodgers method of concept analysis contains six steps.

The two methods of concept analysis pose some similarities and differences. Both methods of analysis will begin with the selection of a concept and defining the attributes of the concept. However, the Walker and Avant method is observed to be more descriptive rather than interpretive (Brush et al., 2011). For this purpose, it is difficult to develop a new understanding or more insight into the research. The Rodgers method also poses some differences regarding the type of data. Data for analysis is obtained from professional literature and examples are selected from the literature (Shahsavari et al., 2019). This makes the process of concept analysis difficult for researchers and it may require interdisciplinary comparison and reassessment of the social context where the concept analysis was conducted.

Concept analysis is a useful tool for researching because it influences theory selection and evaluation. Firstly, concept analysis will involve reviewing the area of interest, examining the phenomenon closely, and analyzing relevant terms (Rodgers et al., 2018). The process of concept analysis also allows the researcher to realize the operational and theoretical definitions for research which helps to select appropriate instruments and techniques of study. During the research, concept analysis can guide the researcher in the selection of new tools which can measure adequately the defining characteristics of a concept. Regarding the aspect of evaluation, concept analysis informs the researcher about the hypothesis and provides insight into how research findings support or deny the original concept (McEwen & Wills, 2019). For example, concept analysis helps to specify the characteristics of the concept which can be evaluated using research approaches.


Brush, B. L., Kirk, K., Gultekin, L., & Baiardi, J. M. (2011). Overcoming: A concept analysis. Nursing Forum46(3), 160–168.

McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2019). Theoretical basis for nursing (5th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Rodgers, B. L., Jacelon, C. S., & Knafl, K. A. (2018). Concept analysis and the advance of nursing knowledge: state of the science. Journal of Nursing Scholarship50(4), 451-459.

Shahsavari, H., Zarei, M., & Mamaghani, J. A. (2019). Transitional care: Concept analysis using Rodgers’ evolutionary approach. International Journal of Nursing Studies99, 103387.

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