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Posted: September 18th, 2023

Describe the internal and external criticism that is used to evaluate middle range theories.

Making judgement as to whether a theory could be adapted for use in research is very important. Discussion Week 2 Nursing Theory. Describe the internal and external criticism that is used to evaluate middle range theories.

Evaluating middle range theories is crucial for determining their applicability and validity in research. Middle range theories aim to explain specific phenomena within bounded contexts, making them well-suited for guiding empirical studies (McEwen & Wills, 2019). However, it is important to critically examine these theories to ensure they are well-founded.
Internal criticism focuses on analyzing the internal consistency and logical coherence of a theory’s key concepts and proposed relationships (Fawcett, 2014). For example, one might examine whether the concepts are clearly defined and operationalized, or if the theorized relationships logically flow from one to another. External criticism compares a theory to existing research findings to determine how well it corresponds to empirical evidence (Fawcett, 2014). For instance, a theory may be evaluated based on the extent that its hypothesized relationships and outcomes have been demonstrated through previous research studies.
McEwen and Wills (2019) outline several criteria for internally and externally criticizing middle range theories. Internally, theories should demonstrate conceptual clarity, logical consistency, and lack of contradiction. Externally, theories are evaluated based on their empirical adequacy, level of generalization, and heuristic value in sparking new research questions. Theories that withstand both internal and external criticism are better positioned to guide applicable nursing research (McEwen & Wills, 2019).
Fawcett, J. (2014). Conceptual models and nursing: International perspectives. Nursing science quarterly, 27(4), 308-311.
McEwen, M., & Wills, E. M. (2019). Theoretical basis for nursing. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Walker, L. O., & Avant, K. C. (2019). Strategies for theory construction in nursing. Pearson.

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