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Reason & Rigor

Reason & Rigor
How Conceptual Frameworks Guide Research

Second Edition

January 2016 | 264 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Designed for novice as well as more experienced researchers, Reason & Rigor presents conceptual frameworks as a mechanism for aligning literature review, research design, and methodology. The book explores the conceptual framework—defined as both a process and a product—that helps to direct and ground researchers as they work through common research challenges. Focusing on published studies on a range of topics and employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, the updated Second Edition features two new chapters and clearly communicates the processes of developing and defining conceptual frameworks.

Chapter 1: Introduction to Conceptual Frameworks
Conceptual Frameworks Explored and Defined  
Elements of a Conceptual Framework  
Organization of this Book  
Concluding Thoughts: Using Conceptual Frameworks  
Chapter 2: Why Conceptual Frameworks?
What (and Where) is Theory?  
Whose Theory is It, and Where Does It Come From?  
What is a Literature Review, and What is It For?  
The Case for Conceptual Frameworks: Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 3: Origins of a Conceptual Framework: The Birth of Grit
Background and context: An overview of the work in focus  
The argument  
Origins: Conversations with the dead and the living  
Formulating the concept: From conversing to inquiring  
Forming and advancing the argument  
Chapter 4: Excavating Questions
“Excavating” Research Questions  
About the Author  
Background and Context: An Overview of the Work in Focus  
The Argument  
Conceptual Frameworks and Research Design  
The Co-evolution of Conceptual Frameworks and Research Design  
Conceptual Frameworks and Research Design: Concluding Thoughts  
Reflection Questions  
Chapter 5: The Role of the Conceptual Framework in Data Collection and Fieldwork
Who You Are, How You Think, and What You Study  
About the Author  
Background and Context: An Overview of the Work in Focus  
The Argument  
Hyphenated Selves as a Theoretical Framework  
The Hyphen as Method: Positionality and Practice  
Conceptual Frameworks and Fieldwork: Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 6: Conceptual Frameworks and the Analysis of Data
Examining the Influence of an Ever-Emerging Conceptual Framework  
About the Author  
Background and Context: An Overview of the Work in Focus  
The Argument  
From Argument to Analysis  
Transcription as Data Analysis  
Evolving and Shifting Frameworks of Analysis  
Conceptual Frameworks and Data Analysis: Concluding Thoughts  
Chapter 7: Expanding the Conversation, Extending the Argument: The Role of Conceptual Frameworks in Presenting, Explaining, and Contextualizing Findings
About the Author  
Background and Context: AN OVERVIEW OF THE WORK IN FOCUS  
Being in Conversation With Theory: Influences on Thought and Action  
The Argument  
Chapter 8: Reflections on the Making and Re-making of a Conceptual Framework - William K. Dunworth
Developing a Conceptual Framework  
Challenges in the field  
Revisiting Conceptual Frameworks: Turning Artifacts into Processes  
“Everything is data”: Returning to the field  
Revising the conceptual framework and integrating findings  
Chapter 9: The Conceptual Framework as Guide and Ballast
Developing a Conceptual Framework  
Starting Points: Self and Audience  
Making—and Breaking—Your Plans  
The Conversation: From Listening to Speaking  
Strategies and Exercises for Developing Conceptual Frameworks  
Identifying Your Interests, Beliefs, and Motivations for Doing Research  
Examination of the “Conversations Already Happening”  
Ongoing Questions and Concerns about the Research  
Concept Maps  
Research Memos  
Research Journal  
Reason and Rigor  

[The Second Edition] does a better job than any other text I’ve read of demystifying research by emphasizing the process rather than the strategies.”

Jane Lohmann
Northeastern University

“[This book] is a very good examination of the ways conceptual frameworks play themselves out in different contexts examining the different aspects of the conceptual frameworks as they appear in literature that has been published (including the dissertation).”

Julie Slayton
University of Southern California

“[This text] provides an excellent overview of the use of conceptual frameworks to guide research.”

Christine E. Blake
University of South Carolina

I recommended the first edition to my PhD students and will also recommend this edition which has two new chapters, both of which add depth to subjects. In particular the addition of reflection questions at the end of each chapter encourage the student to think beyond the text and apply the theory to their own research.

Dr Jillian Pooler
Postgraduate Department, Peninsula Schools of Medicine & Dentis
May 19, 2016
Key features


  • A new Chapter 3 focuses on how conceptual frameworks are developed, profiling Angela Duckworth's seminal work on grit, and addresses the question on the minds of graduate students preparing for the dissertation process: How do I get started?
  • A new Chapter 8 provides a student's perspective on the role of conceptual frameworks in the research process from beginning to end.
  • Additional visuals that illustrate key ideas and relationships provide a clear roadmap for the reader.
  • A revised Chapter 9 synthesizes the book's major themes and provides guiding questions and specific activities to help readers develop and use their own conceptual frameworks.
  • Updated references and literature in Chapters 1, 2, and 9 reflect the latest work in the field.


  • Coverage of how a conceptual framework helps match research questions with methods helps researchers think about collecting, analyzing, describing, and interpreting data.
  • Examples from research studies by highly-regarded researchers from different fields and disciplines—including Angela Duckworth, James Spillane, Michelle Fine, Frederick Erickson, and Margaret Beale Spencer—are paired with the authors’ own reflections on the research process to show how conceptual frameworks specifically inform research design, data collection, analysis, and writing.

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