Theory Development Strategies for Middle Range Theories
The current featured article in ANS provides an analysis of methods used for development of middle-range theories over the past decade, titled “Theory Development Strategies for Middle-Range Theories” by Eun-Ok Im, PhD, MPH, RN, CNS, FAAN. Download the article at no cost while it is featured! Here Dr. Im describes the background of this work:
First of all, I want to say that it is my great honor to have another paper published in Advances in Nursing Science. Advances in Nursing Science has
been my number one journal in learning, developing, and disseminating my theoretical works throughout my career. I really appreciate all the works in Advances in Nursing Science that have been the insights for all my theoretical works.
This summer, I was in Australia, “the land down under.” They were having a winter while it was an obvious hot summer in North Carolina where my home was (please enjoy the below pictures from Australia; Koala was sleeping while showing only their back, and the winter beach had lots of rain and winds). Their cars were driven on the opposite direction; drivers were sitting on the right side and cars were going on the opposite lanes. So, I needed to think from the opposite side even when crossing the streets. Likewise, this paper started from the opposite side of a meta-theorist (that I personally identify myself); what students would want to know about middle range theories.
This paper was initiated because of my PhD students who asked me about theory development strategies that had been used in development of middle range theories. I had a class on middle range theories versus situation specific theories. Unlike situation specific theories whose development methods were clearly proposed in the literature, the theory development methods used for middle range theories were not clear in the literature, and the students were asking what had been recently used in development of middle range theories and how they could develop their own middle range theories. Unfortunately, I could not articulate a clear answer for their questions although I knew about several strategies that had been proposed and used to develop middle range theories in the literature. I didn’t have any idea on how middle range theories have been developed in recent years. That was the start point of this paper. From a student’s perspective, I myself wanted to know how middle range theories had been developed during the past 10 years.
Although the task of conducting a systematic integrated literature review was extensive, I need to admit that this literature review did not include the middle range theories that had been developed before 10 years ago. Thus, many of the famous and widely used middle ranges theories are missing in this review. I just wanted to see the currently used theory development strategies in the past 10 years so that I could see the current trends and provide directions for future development. Another point that I need to admit was: there was no in-depth investigations on the philosophical and methodological aspects of the middle range theories in this paper because many of the articles on middle range theories that were reviewed did not specify their philosophical and methodological bases of theory development; many of them were confused even on the types of theories that they developed.
Despite these limitations, it was obvious that middle range theories became an essential part of theoretical bases in nursing, and I can see their steady and continuous development during the past decade. At the same time, I can see the necessity of further development of middle range theories in their philosophical and methodological bases. Hope this article could give an understanding on what is happening in development of middle range theories and hope this could give some insights to future theorists as I got my insights from the theoretical works that have been published in Advances in Nursing Science.
Best luck to all of us during this hot summer~ Or, cold winter (for many of us)~
From Eun-Ok Im, in Summer, 2018 in the U.S.