How to Write About Theory

[See also: How to write a research project. How to write the background, methods, analysis and discussion sections. How to write the introduction and conclusion. How to review the literature and how to structure a research paper. How to finish on time and how to reference properly. Part of the Craft of Research series. Full program here.]

Your reader already understands the basic concepts of your theory. So you don’t have to teach your theory to your reader; you simply have to explain how you are applying it to your particular object. In an important sense, your theory section constructs the objectivity of your object, it establishes a space of possible arrangements of things in the world, it “frames” your observations within this space. It is true that it identifies your “point of view” on your empirical material but it is no less true that this point of view is easily available to your readers. Their own training (in your discipline) allows them to easily step into it and see the world through your eyes. You share a perspective on the world and we call this perspective your “theory”.

Here’s what I say about it in the “How to Structure” lecture:

Here are some further posts on the subject:

“Theory as Expectation”

“Theories, Concepts, and Models”

“Theory, Method, Style”

“Reading, Talking, Seeing”