Definition: A theory is a unifying explanation or description of a process or phenomenon, which is amenable to repeated testing and verifiable through scientific investigation, using various experiments led by several independent researchers. Theories may be rejected or deemed an unsatisfactory explanation of a phenomenon after rigorous testing of a new hypothesis that explains the phenomena better or seems to contradict them but is more generalisable to a wider array of findings.

Related terms: <a href='/glossary/hypothesis/'>Hypothesis</a>, <a href='/glossary/model-philosophy/'>Model (philosophy)</a>, <a href='/glossary/theory-building/'>Theory building</a>

References: Schafersman (1997), & Wacker (1998)

Drafted and Reviewed by: Aoife O’Mahony, Mahmoud Elsherif, Helena Hartmann, Charlotte R. Pennington, Graham Reid

Note that we are currently working on an automated mechanism to link references cited above with their full-length version that can be found at with all references used so far.