Rethinking Concept Analysis
Dr. Mark Risjord Philosophy Department and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing Emory University email@example.com September 2008 DRAFT Under editorial review Please do not cite without permission
Concept analysis has a mixed reputation in nursing scholarship. Since Walker and Avant introduced it in Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing (2005, first edition 1983), textbooks have stated that concept analysis is necessary for theory development. Yet, many commentators have found concept analysis troublesome. Rodgers remarked that it is "not clear" how Walker and Avant 's method "actually contributes to further intellectual progression" (Rodgers, 1989, p. 331). After discussing Walker and Avant, as well as Rodgers ' evolutionary method, Morse concluded that such methods "fail to produce a useful theoretical base" (Morse, 1995, p. 32). Paley concurred that concept analysis is "an arbitrary and vacuous exercise" (Paley, 1996, p. 578). Ten years later, after reviewing techniques for concept analysis, Hupcey and Penrod concluded that "the potential contribution of concept analysis on the evolution of nursing science has been constrained" (Hupcey & Penrod, 2005, p. 205). If these critics are right, then something is wrong with concept analysis in nursing.
The character of concepts is a longstanding issue, both in philosophy and nursing (Rodgers 2000b). One of the outstanding questions is how concepts relate to theories. Concepts are sometimes called "the building blocks of theory" (Walker & Avant, 2005, p. 26), and
RETHINKING CONCEPT ANALYSIS 2 published concept analyses often suggest that concepts can be fruitfully developed prior to any significant theorizing. This idea has been criticized in nursing (Paley, 1996; Rodgers, 1989, 2000b) as well as philosophy (Quine, 1953; Wittgenstein 1953). According to these critics, concepts are "theory-formed" rather than
References: Benner, P. (1984). From Novice to Expert. Menlo Park CA: Addison-Wesley. Chinn, P. L., & Kramer, M. K. (1999). Theory and Nursing: Integrated Knowledge Development (5th ed.). St. Louis: Mosby. Duncan, C., Cloutier, J. D., & Bailey, P. H. (2007). Concept Analysis: The Importance of Differentiating the Ontological Focus. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 58, 293-300. RETHINKING CONCEPT ANALYSIS 18 Hempel, C. (1966). Philosophy of Natural Science. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Hupcey, J. E., & Penrod, J. (2005). Concept Analysis: Examining the State of the Science. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice: An International Journal, 19, 197-208. Morse, J. M. (1995). Exploring the Theoretical Basis of Nursing Knowledge Using Advanced Techniques of Concept Analysis. Advances in Nursing Science, 17, 31-46. Paley, J. (1996). How Not to Clarify Concepts in Nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 24, 572-578. Quine, W. V. O. (1953). Two Dogmas of Empiricism. In From a Logical Point of View (pp. 20-46). New York: Harper and Row. Rodgers, B. L. (1989). Concepts, Analysis, and the Development of Nursing Knowledge: The Evolutionary Cycle. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 14, 330-335. Rodgers, B. L. (2000a). Concept Analysis: An Evolutionary View. In B. L. Rodgers & K. A. Knafl (Eds.), Concept Development in Nursing: Foundations, Techniques, and Applications (pp. 77-102). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company. Rodgers, B. L. (2000b). Philosophical Foundations of Concept Development. In B. L. Rodgers & K. A. Knafl (Eds.), Concept Development in Nursing: Foundations, Techniques, and Applications (pp. 7-38). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company. Schwartz-Barcott, D., & Kim, H. S. (2000). An Expansion and Elaboration of the Hybrid Model of Concept Development. In B. L. Rogers & K. Knafl (Eds.), Concept Development in Nursing: Foundations, Techniques, and Applications (pp. 129-159). Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company. Walker, L. O., & Avant, K. C. (2005). Strategies for Theory Construction in Nursing (Fourth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. RETHINKING CONCEPT ANALYSIS 19 Wilson, J. (1963). Thinking With Concepts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical Investigations (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Ziff, P. (1960). Semantic Analysis. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.