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Scientific Literature: Industrial/Organizational Psychology Graduate Students

Theories, Methods: to understand, to find

Most grad students use theory to guide or frame their research, (less on "to make theoretical contributions"). To understand what is a scientific theory, theoretical contributions, and configurations between data, methods, and theory in the filed of I-O psychology will grad students to identify a scientific theory that fits and guides specific research, not "tangentially related research."

1. The disciplinary nature:

  • There are relationships between data, method, and theories Read more
  • There are many well-supported truly scientific theories in the basic research literature. Our field [I-O psychology] is sitting next to a scientific theory goldmine in other psychology journals, yet we neglect it in favor of creating our own untested theories. (p. 344)

2. What is theory? 

  • a theory is a well-replicated and strongly supported hypothesis (p.332)
  • elegance and parsimony are considered hallmarks of true scientific theories (p. 340)

3. What is theoretical contributions?

  • In I-O psychology and management journals, a theoretical contribution is viewed as “new and innovative ideas and insights” and “meaningfully exten[sion of] exist-ing theory”
Theories exist in a variety of publications. The following sources can be used in searching a suitable theory for research under your faculty's guidance. 
  • Sources for established theories
    • Textbooks
    • Key references
  • Sources for established and new theories
    • Journal articles (i.e.PsycINFO, Web of Science)

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