Theoretical methods: a need for knowledge in scientific-pedagogical research


Theoretical methods: a need for knowledge in scientific-pedagogical research


Los métodos teóricos: una necesidad de conocimiento en la investigación científico-pedagógica



Luis Alberto Del Sol Fabregat1, Evelyn Tejeda Castañeda2, Juan Miguel Mirabal3

1 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E-mail:
2 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E-mail:
3 Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E-mail:



To the editor:

The applied research works predominate in the health sciences including those of the pedagogic type; in them empirical methods are used along with theoretical ones; in my experience as professor of the Research Methodology Professorship. I have noticed that sometimes the theoretical methods of analysis-synthesis, induction-deduction, historical-logical, etc. They are not properly described or they are only conceptualized, so we consider necessary and meaningful to state our considerations about the concept, its importance and use in research works.

Universities constitute the core of the scientific and technological subsystem of each country, and in conceiving them as part of the state apparatus, it is incumbent upon them to stimulate the creative spirit, as well as the scientific training of the professionals they train, to attend to their needs and guarantee their full development.1

Educational research has a great social foundation in Cuba, since it contributes to create the optimal conditions for the full development of the student's personality; the Cuban school is the most important cultural institution in the community and it is responsible for a comprehensive general education of its students from preschool to the training of professionals in each of the different job opportunities of the Cuban educational system.2 It is an unquestionable fact that the onetime eminently reproductive medical education has moved to an increasingly scientific practice worldwide and the way to know these experiences is through scientific research in the process of training professionals and their subsequent communication.3

Research is a contextualized process, research is carried out in the field of education to transform this reality, improve its quality, and thereby contribute to human development.4 However, it must be reiterated that one of the difficulties most frequently found in medical researches carried out is the incorrect utilization of scientific research methods, particularly theoretical ones, it has been corroborated through the experience we have acquired as teachers, and confirmed in thesis reviews, participation in thesis and master's degrees examining boards, as well as in the subject staff meetings and the Research Methodology professorship meetings, which analyze the main difficulties of the final research works of the residents' specialty, thesis of masters, among other issues of interest.

The researcher to select the methods to be used in his research should be supported by the theoretical design (problem, objective, hypotheses and variables), it is the one that should guide where to look for the methodological procedures that will allow to know the reason of the phenomenon under study and to arrive to conclusions, it should also take into account the advantages of the methods, techniques and instruments that are applied and decide those that will facilitate the work of the researcher to achieve the objectives proposed in the theoretical design.2

Throughout any scientific research, empirical and theoretical methods are dialectically related; the former are involved in the discovery and accumulation of facts and in the verification of hypotheses, but they are not enough to deepen inside the essential relations of pedagogical phenomena. The theoretical methods allow revealing the essential relations of the object of research not directly observed, thus fulfilling an important gnoseological function by making possible the conceptual interpretation of the empirical data found, the construction and development of theories, creating the conditions for the characterization of the phenomena.

It is not a question of mentioning the theoretical methods used in the study carried out with their respective concepts, as they are well known by the scientific community, the essence is to describe clearly how they were used in the study, because sometimes they mention some of them that do not correspond to the theoretical design of the research and do not refer to those which actually correspond with the study, becoming a transcript of other studies which contributes to the use of mal researching practices and ethical implications of easy identification by experts on the topic.

It is the intention of the author to alert the scientific community about this problem: the knowledge and use of theoretical methods by researchers to avoid methodological errors that are not so infrequently observed in biomedical research.


Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest



1. Herrera Miranda GL. Concepción pedagógica del proceso de formación de habilidades investigativas. Rev Ciencias Méd de Pinar del Río [Internet]. 2014 [citado 4 Ene 2017];18(4):[aprox. 11 p.]. Disponible en:

2. Pérez Rodríguez G, García Batista G, Nocedo de León I, García Inza ML. Metodología de la investigación educacional. I parte. La Habana: Editorial Pueblo y Educación; 2002.

3. Borroto Cruz ER. Hacia una educación médica cada vez más científica. Educ Med Super [Internet]. 2015 [citado 3 Ene 2017];29(2):[aprox. 3 p.]. Disponible en:

4. Hernández Meléndrez E. Cómo escribir una tesis. La Habana: Editorial Ciencias Médicas; 2006.



Submitted: February, 1 2017.
Accepted: February, 3 2017.



Luis Alberto Del Sol Fabregat. Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba. E-mail:

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