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Table 1 Requirements of a Theory (from May et al. 2007[42])

From: From theory to 'measurement' in complex interventions: Methodological lessons from the development of an e-health normalisation instrument

1. Accurate description A theory must provide a taxonomy or set of definitions that enable the identification, differentiation, and codification of the qualities and properties of cases and classes of phenomena.
2. Systematic explanation A theory must provide an explanation of the form and significance of the causal and relational mechanisms at work in cases or classes of the phenomena defined by the theory, and should propose their relation to other phenomena.
3. Knowledge claims A theory must lead to knowledge claims. These may take the form of abstract explanations, analytic propositions, or experimental hypotheses. They may also map relations with other phenomena that are believed to possess similar qualities and properties.
4. Investigation A theory must be testable. Such tests may be abstract (i.e. formal logical representations, simulations, or thought experiments); or concrete (empirical investigations).