Punch’s hierarchy of concepts
Punch explains that this hierarchy portrays a continuum which varies in levels of abstraction and generality. He argues that levels of conceptualization for deductive approaches would decrease as the research process ‘descended’ the hierarchy. The opposite tendency would apply to inductive approaches, where levels of conceptualization would increase as the research process ‘ascended’ the hierarchy. According to Punch, viewing the coherence of research in this manner assists researchers to explain their research, write their proposal and sharpen the logic of their thinking. Thus, Punch offers an integrated view for the role and function of the conceptual framework. This is confirmed by Mullins and Kiley who conclude, in the Australian context, that experienced examiners ‘look for internal linkages and cohesion within doctoral theses’. Similarly, Burton and Steane whilst accepting that ‘the notion of a conceptual framework often causes concern amongst those new to research because of uncertainty as to what it means’ they should, nonetheless ‘clarify the intellectual thinking on which the(ir) study is based’.