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Conceptual Mapping: Development of the Strategy

Conceptual Mapping: Development of the Strategy


Western Journal of Nursing Research, 1982, Vol. 4, No. 4 Conceptual Mapping: Development of the Strategy Barbara M. Artinian A clear understanding of the relationships between and among the variables in a research problem is at once the most important and also the most difficult task in the development of a research proposal. In many research studies, the task has been simply ignored. The failure to adequately conceptualize the research prob- lem either before an experimental or correlational study is begun or in the analysis phase of a qualitative descriptive study has greatly reduced the gen- eralizability of research findings since the process accounting for the observed effect remains unidentified. A strategy that will enable the researcher to identify and correct these limitations has been developed: conceptual mapping. The conceptual map is a diagram of the relationships among the variables linking the independent variable to the dependent variables and serves to clarify the re- search problem. This paper describes the development of the strategy of con- ceptual mapping and illustrates its use. Published research in nursing shows that when an experimental intervention is implemented and an outcome measure is observed there is often little under- standing of how
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