Middle-Range Theories

Middle-Range Theories, as conceptualized by sociologist Robert K. Merton, operate on two levels: abstract and general and specific and empirical. They aim to explain particular social processes or situations and provide a concrete theoretical framework. Unlike grand theories, they are developed through qualitative research, with a limited scope focusing on a narrow area within a specific field. As a result, middle-range theories are more practical and applicable to empirical research, making it easier to generate concepts and hypotheses, thus contributing to the scientific development of the field. Within nursing, they deal with issues such as patient care and interventions.

Middle-range theories contribute to scientific knowledge by occupying the ground between abstract theoretical concepts and specific empirical research.

Internal Criticism is a critical component of theory evaluation. It assesses the coherence and logic of a theory, examines the relationship between concepts and propositions, and analyzes the theory’s structure, observed facts, and potential explanations. In addition, internal criticism identifies potential flaws, providing a comprehensive analysis of the propositions and the theory’s ability to explain and predict the phenomenon under study.

In contrast, External Criticism evaluates a theory’s relevance and applicability in a specific field. It relies on empirical evidence and contributes to significant advances in knowledge and skills.

Both types of criticism are crucial to a comprehensive evaluation of middle-range theories. Internal criticism ensures logical coherence, while external criticism provides practical utility and relevance. This evaluation is essential in determining whether a middle-range theory is suitable for research and can yield new findings and advances in the field.

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