Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The use of theory in research.

Stewart, Derek; Klein, Susan


Derek Stewart

Susan Klein


All researchers should consider the theoretical basis for their studies very early on in the planning stage. The aim of this paper is to describe and discuss how theory (a 'comprehensive explanation of some aspect of nature that is supported by a body of evidence') can inform and improve the quality and relevance of pharmacy-based research. Theories can be applied at many stages of quantitative and qualitative (and mixed) research processes, including: providing rationale for the study; defining the aim and research questions; considering the methodological stance; developing data collection and generation tools; providing a framework for data analysis, and interpretation. The focus of the paper is on the use of theoretical lenses, their selection and application. Two key theoretical lenses and their potential applications are described: the Theoretical Domains Framework in studies of behavioural change, and Normalization Process Theory in implementing, embedding and integrating interventions.


STEWART, D. and KLEIN, S. 2016. The use of theory in research. International journal of clinical pharmacy [online], 38(3), pages 615-619. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 28, 2015
Online Publication Date Oct 28, 2015
Publication Date Jun 30, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 12, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 29, 2016
Journal International journal of clinical pharmacy
Print ISSN 2210-7703
Electronic ISSN 2210-7711
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 3
Pages 615-619
Keywords Normalisation process theory; Quantitative; Qualitative; Theoretical domains framework; Theoretical lens; Theory
Public URL