PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to identify the theoretical characteristics and direction of inquiry in the discipline of nursing by analyzing doctoral dissertations. METHOD: The materials used in this study were 277 doctoral dissertations from five universities in Korea. The framework for the study was derived from Kim's(1993) alternative linkage among philosophy, theory, and method in nursing science. RESULT: Of the 277 dissertations it was found that there were 13 types of linkages out of a possible 54 types. Most of the dissertations (128 of 277) were done within the linkage of realism/etic/quantitative/explanatory knowledge type. Of the 218 dissertations within scientific realism, 42 were within relativism, and 17 within practicism. There were 134 dissertations of the explanatory knowledge type, 112 descriptive ones, and 31 prescriptive ones. Studies done within the etic quantitative methodology included 209 dissertations and within the emic perspective, 43 with qualitative methodology, and 7 with quantitative. CONCLUSION: The results show that it is necessary to develop more alternative linkages for nursing practice and this will lead to expanding nursing knowledge.
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