Why seek criteria that will lead to a coherent quality theory with explanatory power?
Clarity may escape conclusions because authorities have not suggested a comprehensive recipe, or guideline for writing and developing a theory. Components that are needed or required have been suggested and described individually. Some authorities have suggested ways to improve theory. There is actually a good reason for this. Theory development among authorities is very much a paradigm. There are rules, but they may or may not be expressed in writing, the rules are understood and communicated verbally and in writing as critiques of other theorist’s work. Decades of critiques have yielded a substantial knowledge bank shared only among the participants. Perhaps I can present a few conclusions of my own as a non-participant, but, soon to be one.
Clearly, learning about theory is not a waste of time if a theory in its entirety is presented to the interested party. Theory is a structured way of communicating. It helps to achieve an unprecedented level of understanding that explicates and orders experience, if a recipe is followed. A theory is essentially an idea, a result of the imagination, a belief. It focuses our experience and knowledge about a question or phenomena in order to achieve order in a chaotic history of events and complex world. A theory forces the theorist to state assumptions for communicating what is known and accepted as given about the phenomena; this is critical because we must always start from the foundation of knowledge or wisdom on the subject.
Concepts describe our world to us and in that depiction we encounter concrete and abstract portrayals. Abstract concepts can be defined with concrete concepts if we use the process of instantiation. We must think of concrete concepts as being allied to the abstract. Concepts can also be combined to create constructs. Constructs help formulate a more dynamic description. Discovering the links and relationships among concepts and constructs is critical to good theory that is consummated with propositions.
Propositions link two or more concepts or constructs. Propositions are the stuff that research is made of; research validates the truthfulness or soundness of the backbone of the theory. However, research may not be needed to make a theory useful if the theory provides insight and utility for creating a greater understanding of the phenomena of interest. The critical component of any theory is the complete explication of “What”, “How”, and “Why”. If any of these components are missing the theory is not complete and will fail to gain acceptance or be understood.
We are well on our way to a recipe.