The question in this category emphasizes the integration and synthesis of relevant theory and conceptual principles in the student’s field of study. Students are expected to demonstrate comprehension and critical thinking using the body of knowledge attained in the fundamental and specialization coursework that she or he has taken. Theories play a vitally important role in guiding research and organizing and making sense of research findings. In spite of the great importance of theory-building and theory testing within your field of specialization, there is no generally accepted conception of what a theory is. Because your dissertation must contribute to theory, you must have a clear understanding of the variety of conceptions of theory, types of theories, and ways of contributing to theory and be able to justify how, exactly, your study contributes to theory. Part 1 Using Gelso (2006), Harlow (2009), Stam, H. (2007, 2010), Wacker (1999), and five additional peer-reviewed articles from your specialization, discuss scholarly views on the nature and types of theory. Compare and contrast at least three views of what constitutes a theory, including the view you will use in Part 3 of this question. Be sure to distinguish theory from related concepts, such as hypothesis, paradigm, model, and concept. Guidelines: As you answer this question, keep the following items in mind. The number of ways that the term “theory” is defined and categorized inside and outside of academia is voluminous. It will not be possible to discuss all such views in such a small number of pages. Therefore, you must narrow your focus to three or four views and definitions that fit your subject area and the type of research that interests you. A useful strategy is to present the detailed definitions that you select and then compare and contrast them. Also, when you discuss the meaning of concepts such as “hypothesis, paradigm, model, and concept” and how they are related to the term “theory,” it is a useful strategy to discuss the relationships between these concepts as well as their definitions. For example, theories are contained inside paradigms and hypotheses are used inside research studies that test theory, etc. It can also help to go back to the original works of Thomas Kuhn, he is the author who coined the term paradigm and he made some adjustments to its meaning over time. Part 2 Using Ellis & Levy (2008), Harlow, E. (2009), and five additional peer-reviewed articles, review the scholarly literature on the relationship between theory and research and the ways research (quantitative and qualitative) can contribute to theory. Discuss at least three ways research can contribute to theory. The relationship between theory and research can be seen in slightly different ways depending upon factors such as the starting point. For example, are you starting from a point where little or no known theory exists or are you considering research based upon an area that contains one or more developed theories? A book that can also be helpful is, The Relationship of Theory and Research by Downs and Fawcett, 1986. These authors also have several published articles on this topic. Note that the terms qualitative and quantitative are found to have different meanings from various authors. A great starting point for understanding the debate about these two terms is found at the following source http://wilderdom.com/research/QualitativeVersusQuantitativeResearch.html Be sure to define your adopted/accepted definitions for the terms qualitative and quantitative, as they apply to research, before discussing how qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods can contribute to theory. Part 3 Pick a theory (in one of the views of what constitutes a theory that you identified in Part 1) of current interest directly related to the topic area of your dissertation. A theory is currently of interest if there are articles published on it in the past five years. Using at least 10 published, peer-reviewed research articles: 1. Explain how the theory adds or may add to our understanding of your field and/or research topic. As you answer this question, keep in mind that a reasonable academic theory should include details such as the principles of the theory, the independent and dependent variables, and how the variables have been measured. Related to the theory, there should also be literature available discussing the results from hypotheses that have already been tested via research. There can also be times when scales are used in theory and in research related to theory. In these cases, information concerning how the scales that have been developed for measurements related to the theory should be available and they should be discussed. Remember that sometimes the term “theory” is used in the literature for theories that are too general to be tested. Such theories should be avoided for answering this question. For example, General Systems Theory is too broad and lacks the ability to be tested. It is more a set of observations that leads to a general concept concerning systems. One can watch the sun rise in the east and set in the west – this is also a general observation and it involves the concept of the sun moving. It is also a concept and not a theory. If someone then said that they believed that there is a large invisible giant in the sky who pushes the sun around, then this could be the beginning of the development of a theory but it would not yet be a viable potential academic/scientific theory because it has no support in any tested hypotheses and is not related to any other proven or partially proven theories that could help inform us. In reality, when scientists began to learn more facts and develop more theories about our world, then theory began to form concerning why the sun seems to “rise” in the east and “set” in the west. For example, man discovered that the world was round and that it spun and that it moved in space around the sun. Information concerning earth’s gravity and the gravitational pull of planets was hypothesized and tested and through theoretical development based upon formal hypotheses, research and testing, theories were fine-tuned and learned to be valid in this area. These sets of facts and theories allow us to understand why the sun seems to rise in the east and set in the west. These theories about the earth and solar movement have been repeatedly tested and proved and because there is no longer any argument about our basic understanding of this phenomena, the theory related to the movement of the earth and sun is now said to be a set of measurable laws and facts. Also, beware of some odd uses of the term “theory.” Sometimes the word theory is used in terms such as Grounded Theory. But, Grounded Theory is not a theory. Instead, Grounded Theory is an approach to building theory starting with data (the bottom-up approach) instead of starting with theory and concepts the (top-down approach). Remember, a detailed, testable academic-quality theory (regardless of the exact definition of theory that you accept) should include postulation of the relationships between variables and it should strive to successfully explain causation. 2. Discuss and analyze the literature on two areas of controversy or unanswered questions related to the theory. This part of the question will proceed well if you have read the added help/guidelines for the first part of the question listed above. Remember, often in the social sciences, theories have more uncertainty and are more difficult to prove as being 100% accurate. Often this is the result of not being able to obtain enough data and/or there are more variables involved than what can actually be handled in a study or there are more variables involved than what is currently known. In academic-quality articles, the findings presented very frequently discuss limitations and unanswered questions. For example, sometimes theoretical results apply well in a certain culture but not much is known as to if the theory will work well in another type of culture. And, there are still controversies in the physical sciences too – consider the controversies concerning the Big Bang Theory. And, has any theory explained where the mass of matter came from that was at the center of the big bang?