In the course of preparing your research paper as one of the requirements for your course as an undergraduate or graduate student, you will need to write the conceptual framework of your study.
The conceptual framework steers the whole research activity. What then is a conceptual framework in the context of empirical research? The next section defines and explains the term. Thus, it identifies the variables required in the research investigation. As McGaghie et al. The problem statement of a thesis presents the context and the issues that caused the researcher to conduct the study. The conceptual framework lies within a much broader framework called theoretical framework.
The latter draws support from time-tested theories that embody the findings of many researchers on why and how a particular phenomenon occurs. Step by Step Guide on How to Make the Conceptual Framework Before you prepare your conceptual framework, you need to do the following things: Choose your topic. Decide on what will be your research topic. The topic should be within your field of specialization.
Do a literature review. Review relevant and updated research on the theme that you decide to work on after scrutiny of the issue at hand.
Compare your paper with over 60 billion web pages and 30 million publications. Variables are simply the characteristics that the cause-effect relationship is describing. The basic design components are boxes, arrows, and lines: Create a box for each variable. Use arrows to indicate cause-effect relationships.
Each arrow should start from the variable that has causal influence and point to the variable that is being affected. The Practitioner-Researcher. Developing Theory from Practice. Strategies for Developing the Theoretical Framework I. Developing the Framework Here are some strategies to develop of an effective theoretical framework: Examine your thesis title and research problem. The research problem anchors your entire study and forms the basis from which you construct your theoretical framework.
Brainstorm about what you consider to be the key variables in your research. Answer the question, "What factors contribute to the presumed effect? Identify the assumptions from which the author s addressed the problem. Group these variables into independent and dependent categories. Review key social science theories that are introduced to you in your course readings and choose the theory that can best explain the relationships between the key variables in your study [note the Writing Tip on this page].
Discuss the assumptions or propositions of this theory and point out their relevance to your research. A theoretical framework is used to limit the scope of the relevant data by focusing on specific variables and defining the specific viewpoint [framework] that the researcher will take in analyzing and interpreting the data to be gathered. It also facilitates the understanding of concepts and variables according to given definitions and builds new knowledge by validating or challenging theoretical assumptions.
Purpose Think of theories as the conceptual basis for understanding, analyzing, and designing ways to investigate relationships within social systems. To that end, the following roles served by a theory can help guide the development of your framework. Means by which new research data can be interpreted and coded for future use, Response to new problems that have no previously identified solutions strategy, Means for identifying and defining research problems, Means for prescribing or evaluating solutions to research problems, Ways of discerning certain facts among the accumulated knowledge that are important and which facts are not, Means of giving old data new interpretations and new meaning, Means by which to identify important new issues and prescribe the most critical research questions that need to be answered to maximize understanding of the issue, Means of providing members of a professional discipline with a common language and a frame of reference for defining the boundaries of their profession, and Means to guide and inform research so that it can, in turn, guide research efforts and improve professional practice.
Adapted from: Torraco, R. Holton III , editors. Structure and Writing Style The theoretical framework may be rooted in a specific theory, in which case, your work is expected to test the validity of that existing theory in relation to specific events, issues, or phenomena.
Many social science research papers fit into this rubric. For example, Peripheral Realism Theory, which categorizes perceived differences among nation-states as those that give orders, those that obey, and those that rebel, could be used as a means for understanding conflicted relationships among countries in Africa.
A test of this theory could be the following: Does Peripheral Realism Theory help explain intra-state actions, such as, the disputed split between southern and northern Sudan that led to the creation of two nations? However, you may not always be asked by your professor to test a specific theory in your paper, but to develop your own framework from which your analysis of the research problem is derived. I could choose instead to test Instrumentalist or Circumstantialists models developed among ethnic conflict theorists that rely upon socio-economic-political factors to explain individual-state relations and to apply this theoretical model to periods of war between nations].
The answers to these questions come from a thorough review of the literature and your course readings [summarized and analyzed in the next section of your paper] and the gaps in the research that emerge from the review process. With this in mind, a complete theoretical framework will likely not emerge until after you have completed a thorough review of the literature. Just as a research problem in your paper requires contextualization and background information, a theory requires a framework for understanding its application to the topic being investigated.
When writing and revising this part of your research paper, keep in mind the following: Clearly describe the framework, concepts, models, or specific theories that underpin your study. This includes noting who the key theorists are in the field who have conducted research on the problem you are investigating and, when necessary, the historical context that supports the formulation of that theory.
This latter element is particularly important if the theory is relatively unknown or it is borrowed from another discipline. Position your theoretical framework within a broader context of related frameworks, concepts, models, or theories.
As noted in the example above, there will likely be several concepts, theories, or models that can be used to help develop a framework for understanding the research problem.
Therefore, note why the theory you've chosen is the appropriate one.
Adapted from: Torraco, R. Some abstracts contain the variables and the salient findings thus may serve the purpose. In effect, your study will attempt to answer a question that other researchers have not explained yet. The theoretical framework connects the researcher to existing knowledge.
Variables are simply the characteristics that the cause-effect relationship is describing. Testing research Whether constructing a conceptual framework will be a helpful exercise depends on the type of research you are doing. Those affected experience insomnia; they sleep less than required usually less than six hours , and this happens when they spend too much time working on their laptops or viewing the television at night. Writing CSU. You must review course readings and pertinent research studies for theories and analytic models that are relevant to the research problem you are investigating. When writing and revising this part of your research paper, keep in mind the following: Clearly describe the framework, concepts, models, or specific theories that underpin your study.
Testing research Whether constructing a conceptual framework will be a helpful exercise depends on the type of research you are doing. Be sure to always connect theory to the review of pertinent literature and to explain in the discussion part of your paper how the theoretical framework you chose supports analysis of the research problem, or if appropriate, how the theoretical framework was found in some way to be inadequate in explaining the phenomenon you were investigating.