n Mousaion - Conceptions and misconceptions of theoretical frameworks in Library and Information Science research : a case study of selected theses and dissertations from eastern and southern African universities

Volume 29, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



We have noted that both novice (postgraduate Master's and doctoral students) and established library and information science (LIS) researchers battle with the understanding, interpretation and selection of appropriate theoretical frameworks (TFs) to inform their research. We understand a theoretical framework to be informed by four major components: the hypothesis, the theoretical model, the research methodology - to be used to answer the hypothesis - and a well-defined literature review (supporting the focus of the research). Therefore, we hope in this article to provide an epistemological understanding of theoretical frameworks. This is achieved through the historical analysis of literature and the content analysis of selected Master's and doctoral LIS research reports conducted in selected universities in eastern and southern Africa. We also use our own experience in supervising postgraduate research work in LIS. Our finding is that there is a definite misconception as to what a theoretical framework is or should be. Based on the analysis we have done, not all master's and doctoral studies in Library and Information Science contain a distinctive theoretical model or a distinctive literature review, which some argue should be a distinctive part of the theoretical framework. We recognise the growth of theory in library and information science as a distinct subject, although LIS largely relies on theories from other disciplines. The article is divided into four sections, as outlined in the next section.

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