My Dissertation Editor

  • Dissertation Editing
  • Dissertation Coaching
  • Free Consultation

What is a Conceptual Framework?

A dissertation is a complex document with many moving parts. Several theories and concepts are likely to inform the argument you make in your dissertation, which will draw on many ideas to support the viability of your hypothesis. The conceptual framework is an essential part of your dissertation, one that will shape the focus of your research. 

Since conceptual frameworks can vary by discipline, you’ll want to look at sample documents from your field. Better yet, ask your advisor to share examples of conceptual frameworks written by recent graduates from your program. This section of your dissertation can be difficult to write, and it’s a good idea to ask questions. The conceptual framework can be intimidating because the theories you’re working with feel complex and abstract. The good news is, you’re better prepared to write this section than you realize. 

Conceptual Framework Questions

Let’s consider some of the questions often asked about the conceptual framework: 

woman holding a stack of books in a library

A conceptual framework is the lens through which your research is being viewed. Concepts are the theoretical underpinnings used to frame research in your field. A clear conceptual framework anchors your research in the context of known models and established theories used by scholars in your field. It also offers insight into how your research will build upon earlier contributions to the body of knowledge. 

Conceptual Framework Examples

A lens is a good metaphor for describing the role a conceptual framework plays in a dissertation. It offers direct access to the perspective from which research is being evaluated and interpreted in your dissertation, and distinguishes it from other approaches. For instance, research examining economic trends using feminist theory will be quite different from research that relies on legal or post-structural or game theory. 

For me, writing the conceptual framework of my dissertation was all about making connections. It made me think deeply about how my topic was rooted within an ecosystem of tangled, interconnected ideas. Writing the conceptual framework of your dissertation is an intellectual exercise that shows how dynamic the production of knowledge really is, and also how mutable topics are depending on the lens you’re looking at them through. 

man taking notes in front of his laptop at sunset

As you are reading different conceptual framework examples, pay attention to the references the authors make. What theories do they cite? Which researchers are influential? The conceptual framework is a section of the dissertation where you can expect to see landmark studies and seminal works used as a solid foundation for further research. As a faculty mentor once told me, find the North Star of your research, and then figure out which theories will help you get there. 

When is a Conceptual Framework Introduced?

The conceptual framework is an established section in most dissertations. Though in some creative fields the conceptual framework is part of the introduction , it is conventionally located in Chapter 1 or Chapter 2 of the dissertation. In some dissertations, there will be a conceptual framework section in each of those chapters.

Clarity is key when introducing your conceptual framework. It’s important to quickly establish a reference point for your readers and let them know which theories have been foundational to your research. It’s best to begin this section by stating your conceptual framework and then the theories and researchers who developed it. Provide any information that you feel is essential to understanding your approach to your research. 

How Long is a Conceptual Framework?

woman sitting in an armchair and typing on her laptop

Length is another area where conceptual frameworks vary by program, discipline, and university. Before you begin, ask your advisor about the expectations for your department. While conceptual frameworks are generally 1-3 pages, they can be more extensive. In dissertations where conceptual framework is discussed in multiple chapters, the first section may consist of a brief introduction to the conceptual framework being used, with a more in-depth discussion taking place in the next chapter. 

When outlining your conceptual framework, remember to be clear and concise. Though the document is intended to reflect the wealth of research you’ve already done, resist the urge to overwrite. There will be plenty of opportunities throughout your dissertation to discuss your ideas in depth. 

Writing a conceptual framework is an act of brevity. It’s a great opportunity to show your audience that you have a firm grasp on the theories you’re working with, and you can explain their relevance to your topic in a way that is short and to the point. It may take you a few drafts to get your conceptual framework right, but these revisions will be a sound investment of your time and energy. 

Conceptual Framework Structure

bearded man taking notes next to a stack of books

The structure of your conceptual framework should provide insight and perspective into the way in which you approach your research. If your conceptual framework comprises multiple theories or lenses, you’ll want to show how you believe they are connected. If you think this sounds tricky, fear not. These are deep intellectual waters that you’re swimming in, but you’re well-prepared for the challenges ahead. 

While the bulk of your conceptual framework will be written, visuals are also an option that many doctoral students use to illustrate their process. The images may include models that show the intersection of the theories that make up your conceptual framework. Flow charts and concept maps that are relevant to your conceptual framework may also be helpful. 

Creating Context

Having a clear conceptual framework helped me put complex–and sometimes competing–ideas in context. My topic–authenticity of reconstructed literary landmarks in the South–felt perilously narrow and isolated until I started thinking about my conceptual framework. It offered a clear illustration of the disparate elements that I would be looking at in my qualitative research. 

The theories that explain the phenomena of tourism are cross-disciplinary and far-reaching. My conceptual framework, which covered everything from heritage economies to cultural production, gave me a way to explain why that is. It allowed me to see the phantom threads tying my own theoretical assertions together. I could feel that there was something there, and my conceptual framework showed me how to prove it. 

Related posts:

Man writing theoretical foundation of dissertation

Courtney Watson, Ph.D.

Courtney Watson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of English at Radford University Carilion, in Roanoke, Virginia. Her areas of expertise include undergraduate and graduate curriculum development for writing courses in the health sciences and American literature with a focus on literary travel, tourism, and heritage economies. Her writing and academic scholarship has been widely published in places that include  Studies in American Culture ,  Dialogue , and  The Virginia Quarterly Review . Her research on the integration of humanities into STEM education will be published by Routledge in an upcoming collection. Dr. Watson has also been nominated by the State Council for Higher Education of Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Rising Star Award, and she is a past winner of the National Society of Arts & Letters Regional Short Story Prize, as well as institutional awards for scholarly research and excellence in teaching. Throughout her career in higher education, Dr. Watson has served in faculty governance and administration as a frequent committee chair and program chair. As a higher education consultant, she has served as a subject matter expert, an evaluator, and a contributor to white papers exploring program development, enrollment research, and educational mergers and acquisitions.

Comments are closed.

Free Dissertation Evaluation

How Can We Help?*

Please subscribe me to your newsletter.

Dr. Courtney Watson In the News

“ See It for Yourself ” in With Good Reason: Beyond the Book July 22, 2022

“ I Thought You’d Never Ask: Consent in Contemporary Romance ” in New Frontiers in Popular Romance (McFarland) June 13, 2022

phd thesis conceptual framework

“How to Finish Your Dissertation in Half the Time”

Learn how to avoid the pitfalls preventing you from finishing your dissertation faster.

Subscribe to get the free eBook!

phd thesis conceptual framework

How to Choose a Theoretical Framework or Conceptual Framework For Your Doctoral Dissertation

phd thesis conceptual framework


Hi Dissertation Writer! If you have found your way to this article, you are probably feeling lost. Not only are you disoriented, but you are “lost” in the worst way: You are lost when it does not have to be this way! I’m Dr. Guy, author of “ The Dissertation Warrior ,” and founder of the world’s most comprehensive online dissertation writing training for doctoral students: The Dissertation Mentor® Accelerator Program .

I'm running my  Dissertation Summer Camp  very soon. You should definitely attend! Now, onto the article.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Purpose of this Article

Most doctoral candidates, in my experience, regard theoretical frameworks and conceptual frameworks as one of the hardest-to-understand aspects of their doctoral dissertation. Many doctoral programs do not teach theoretical or conceptual frameworks within their writing or research courses (if they have such courses!). Further, many doctoral programs, for many good reasons, emphasize learning objectives that will immediately be useful for the learner in the field – leaving “theory” to be a lesser-emphasized aspect of a student’s doctoral experience. Accordingly, clarity around this topic is not “easy” to find.

What is a theoretical framework? What is a conceptual framework?

In the most basic sense, both theoretical and conceptual frameworks are “lenses” through which you could look at a particular researchable problem. For example, if you were interested in what lived experiences led to a specific set of nurses to be successful, you could choose many different lenses to guide that exploration. You could be interested in the mentoring they received, so you might pick “mentorship” as your lens. Alternatively, you might be interested in how their experiences related to the intersection of their gender, ethnicity, and generational identities, so you could pick “intersectionality” as your lens. Likewise, you might be interested in their leadership behaviors, so you could choose a lens that relates to “leadership.” Notice how in all these cases, we went from the whole world of possibilities about what you COULD explore about these successful nurses into a specific avenue of exploration. That’s what theoretical and conceptual frameworks do: They are one of many mechanisms in your dissertation that provides greater focus in your study.

Still, choosing “mentorship,” “intersectionality,” or “leadership” is not the same thing as selecting a theoretical or conceptual framework. It’s the first step.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Are theoretical and conceptual frameworks the same thing?

It really depends on who you ask. In the strictest definition, which I don’t recommend you adopt, one could say that a theoretical framework is chosen, whereas a conceptual framework is created.

In this very strict definition, a theoretical framework is a specific, existing theory or model that you select as the lens through which you will look at your study’s specific researchable problem. Your theoretical framework has a specific name and is attributable to a specific author or set of authors.

In this, still, very strict definition, a conceptual framework is a theory or model of your own creation – built because you did not feel that there was an existing theory or model out there that, alone, could help explore the specific researchable problem named by your study. To build such a model, you would take “concepts” from various theories and models out there in the literature. You then would put them together in your own “Frankenstein Monster” of models.

However, before I start getting hate-mail, I want to say that this definition is way too strict – as it does not account for how different doctoral programs (and even different dissertation chairs/advisors) treat these terms. Some programs will require you to use a theoretical framework for quantitative studies and a conceptual framework for qualitative studies. Some programs will only allow you to use what they call a conceptual framework. Some programs treat theoretical and conceptual frameworks as the same thing! Others have even created their own terms (which I won’t mention here) to describe these frameworks.

When I work with doctoral candidates directly in The Dissertation Mentor® One-To-One Mentorship , we always look deeply at how their doctoral programs treat these terms – as dissertations from one’s own doctoral program provide great clues for how to find or build one’s own theoretical or conceptual framework.

phd thesis conceptual framework

What does a theoretical and conceptual framework look like in action?

Let’s say you were interested in the aforementioned “successful nurses.” If you adopted Bass and Avolio’s (1995) Full Range of Leadership Model as your framework, you would focus on what that model cares about: transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership behaviors. You might ask questions of these nurses about their transformational leadership behaviors, their transactional leadership behaviors, and their laissez-faire leadership behaviors.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Alternatively, if you selected Maslow’s (1954) Hierarchy of Needs as your framework, you might ask these successful nurses about each level of that famous triangle: How were their physiological needs addressed? How were their safety needs addressed? How were their belonging needs addressed? … and so on.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Without these lenses, we could indeed ask anything of these successful nurses. Such a situation would lead, potentially, to a very poorly designed study. With a lens chosen, the focus is clear!

Action Steps: So, which theoretical or conceptual framework should I choose?

First, figure out how your doctoral program deals with theoretical and conceptual frameworks. Go find the most recent 25 dissertations from your doctoral program. Try to find dissertations that are generally the same research design as you are pursuing: Quantitative or qualitative.

Second, ask yourself: “Where, explicitly, is the theoretical or conceptual framework discussed in these dissertations?” If they show up in multiple chapters, ask yourself, “What role do they play in each of these chapters?”

Third, make a list of all the theoretical or conceptual frameworks you encounter. Note the authors that created the framework, the purpose statement of the study, and the research questions asked.

Finally, continue your literature search/review work in earnest. Don’t force yourself to choose a framework right away. Instead, keep a running list of the theories and models you encounter as you do your natural reading. You should not select your theoretical or conceptual framework, in my view, until you have a list of at least ten other theories or models that you could have adopted.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Parting Words

Remember that finding or building a theoretical or conceptual framework for your study is not something that happens overnight. Even if you found a model that takes your breath away, that’s only about 10% of the work: You still need to create a list of all the theories or models you could have chosen!

You don’t want to go to your advisor in love with a framework without being able to explain why it is ‘da bomb. You want to be able to explain of why, in the ocean of all other theories and models, you selected this special one.

If you found this article helpful and want to check out my other resources, you can find them below and always at my website at

If you want to pour jet-fuel on your dissertation writing process, consider joining me in my flagship program .

Further Learning

Read: Chapters 29 and 36 of " The Dissertation Warrior " Watch: How to Choose a Theoretical Framework for My Dissertation Watch: Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Framework in Your Doctoral Dissertation with Dr. Guy E. White My Program: The Dissertation Mentor® Accelerator Program

phd thesis conceptual framework

The Dissertation Mentor® Accelerator Program

Our flagship program for any dissertation writer wanting to graduate.

conceptual framework

data analysis

data collection


dissertation chairs

dissertation committee


literature review


office hours

problem statement

purpose statement

theoretical framework

phd thesis conceptual framework

50% Complete

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Thesis Studies: What You Must Know

phd thesis conceptual framework

This article explains the importance of frameworks in a thesis study and the differences between conceptual frameworks and theoretical frameworks. It provides guidelines on how to write a thesis framework, definitions of variable types, and examples of framework types.

What is a research framework and why do I need one?

When planning your thesis study, you need to justify your research and explain its design to your readers. This is called the research framework.

When planning your thesis study, you need to justify your research and explain its design to your readers. This is called the research framework. Think of it as the foundation of a building. A good building needs a strong foundation. Similarly, your research needs to be supported by reviewing and explaining the existing knowledge in the field, describing how your research study will fit within or contribute to the existing literature (e.g., it could challenge or test an existing theory or address a knowledge gap), and informing the reader how your study design aligns with your thesis question or hypothesis.

Important components of the framework are a literature review of recent studies associated with your thesis topic as well as theories/models used in your field of research. The literature review acts as a filtering tool to select appropriate thesis questions and guide data collection, analysis, and interpretation of your findings. Think broadly! Apart from reviewing relevant published papers in your field of research, also explore theories that you have come across in your undergraduate courses, other published thesis studies, encyclopedias, and handbooks.

There are two types of research frameworks: theoretical and conceptual .

What is a conceptual framework?

A conceptual framework is a written or visual representation that explains the study variables and their relationships with each other. The starting point is a literature review of existing studies and theories about your topic.

Steps to develop a conceptual framework

Types of variables

When developing a conceptual framework, you will need to identify the following:

First, identify the independent (cause) and dependent (effect) variables in your study. Then, identify variables that influence this relationship, such as moderating variables, mediating variables, and control variables. A moderating variable changes the relationship between independent and dependent variables when its value increases or decreases. A mediating variable links independent and dependent variables to better explain the relationship between them. A control variable could potentially impact the cause-and-effect relationship but is kept constant throughout the study so that its effects on the findings/outcomes can be ruled out.

Example of a conceptual framework

You want to investigate the hours spent exercising (cause) on childhood obesity (effect).

phd thesis conceptual framework

Now, you need to consider moderating variables that affect the cause-and-effect relationship. In our example, the amount of junk food eaten would affect the level of obesity.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Next, you need to consider mediating variables. In our example, the maximum heart rate during exercise would affect the child’s weight.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Finally, you need to consider control variables. In this example, because we do not want to investigate the role of age in obesity, we can use this as a control variable. Thus, the study subjects would be children of a specific age (e.g., aged 6–10 years).

phd thesis conceptual framework

What is a theoretical framework?

A theoretical framework provides a general framework for data analysis. It defines the concepts used and explains existing theories and models in your field of research.

A theoretical framework provides a general framework for data analysis. It defines the concepts used and explains existing theories and models in your field of research. It also explains any assumptions that were used to inform your approach and your choice of specific rationales. Theoretical frameworks are often used in the fields of social sciences.

Purpose of a theoretical framework

Steps to develop a theoretical framework

A thesis topic can be approached from a variety of angles, depending on the theories used.

Structuring a theoretical framework

The structure of a theoretical framework is fluid, and there are no specific rules that need to be followed, as long as it is clearly and logically presented.

The theoretical framework is a natural extension of your literature review. The literature review should identify gaps in the field of your research, and reviewing existing theories will help to determine how these can be addressed. The structure of a theoretical framework is fluid, and there are no specific rules that need to be followed, as long as it is clearly and logically presented. The theoretical framework is sometimes integrated into the literature review chapter of a thesis, but it can also be included as a separate chapter, depending on the complexity of the theories.

Example of a theoretical framework

The sales staff at Company X are unmotivated and struggling to meet their monthly targets. Some members of the management team believe that this could be achieved by implementing a comprehensive product-training program, but others believe that introducing a sales commission structure will help.

Company X is not achieving their monthly sales targets

To increase monthly sales.

Research question:

How can Company X motivate their sales team to achieve its monthly sales targets?


Theoretical framework:

A literature search will need to be performed to understand the background of the many different theories of motivation in psychology. For example, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (basic human needs—physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization—have to be fulfilled before one can live up to their true potential), Vroom’s Theory of Expectancy (people decide upon their actions based on the outcomes they expect), and Locke’s Goal-Setting Theory (goals are a key driver of one’s behavior). These theories would need to be investigated to determine which would be the best approach to increase the motivation of the sales staff in Company X so that the monthly sales targets are met.

A robust conceptual or theoretical framework is crucial when writing a thesis/dissertation. It defines your research gap, identifies your approach, and guides the interpretation of your results.

A thesis is the most important document you will write during your academic studies. For professional thesis editing and thesis proofreading services, check out Enago's Thesis Editing service s for more information.

Editor’s pick

Get free updates.

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular insights from the research and publishing industry!

What type of framework is used in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) domain? +

Theoretical frameworks are typically used in the HSS domain, while conceptual frameworks are used in the Sciences domain.

What is the difference between mediating versus moderating variables? +

The difference between mediators and moderators can be confusing. A moderating variable is unaffected by the independent variable and can increase or decrease the strength of the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. A mediating variable is affected by the independent variable and can explain the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. T he statistical correlation between the independent and dependent variables is higher when the mediating variable is excluded.

What software should I use to present my conceptual framework? +

The software program Creately provides some useful templates that can help you get started. Other recommended programs are SmartDraw , Inkscape , and .

AD Center Site Banner

Section 1 Overview

Section 1 video, section 1 documents, section 1 resource: synthesis matrix.

phd thesis conceptual framework

Your goal in Section 1 is to develop and refine your evidence-based problem statement and then align that problem with the purpose, the expected contribution to practice, and your questions. You will use your ADE Proposal and Manuscript Template (school-specific templates available in the Essentials section of the Applied Doctoral Center) to draft consecutive subsections of Section 1. Section 1 is where you'll identify the conceptual or theoretical framework for the doctoral project/dissertation-in-practice.

You will also write a literature review as part of Section 1. A literature review in an applied project is not the same as a theoretical dissertation. While the functional steps for conducting the literature review are similar, the desired focus is different. In applied research, there is less emphasis on theoretical foundations and historical perspectives and more emphasis on framing the conditions of the identified problem within its context.

Video Resources

Synthesis Matrix

A synthesis matrix is an excellent tool to use to organize sources by theme and to be able to see the similarities and differences as well as any important patterns in the methodology and recommendations for future research. Using a synthesis matrix can assist you not only in synthesizing and analyzing,  but it can also aid you in finding a researchable problem and gaps in methodology and/or research.

Synthesis Matrix

Use the Synthesis Matrix Template attached below to organize your research by theme and look for patterns in your sources .Use the companion handout, "Types of Articles" to aid you in identifying the different article types for the sources you are using in your matrix. If you have any questions about how to use the synthesis matrix, sign up for the synthesis analysis group session to practice using them with Dr. Sara Northern!

Writing Icon Purple Circle w/computer inside

NCU Library Home

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

What Is a Conceptual Framework? | Tips & Examples

Published on August 2, 2022 by Bas Swaen and Tegan George. Revised on November 15, 2022.


A conceptual framework illustrates the expected relationship between your variables. It defines the relevant objectives for your research process and maps out how they come together to draw coherent conclusions.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to help you construct your own conceptual framework.

Table of contents

Developing a conceptual framework in research, step 1: choose your research question, step 2: select your independent and dependent variables, step 3: visualize your cause-and-effect relationship, step 4: identify other influencing variables, frequently asked questions about conceptual models.

A conceptual framework is a representation of the relationship you expect to see between your variables, or the characteristics or properties that you want to study.

Conceptual frameworks can be written or visual and are generally developed based on a literature review of existing studies about your topic.

Your research question guides your work by determining exactly what you want to find out, giving your research process a clear focus.

However, before you start collecting your data, consider constructing a conceptual framework. This will help you map out which variables you will measure and how you expect them to relate to one another.

In order to move forward with your research question and test a cause-and-effect relationship, you must first identify at least two key variables: your independent and dependent variables .

Note that causal relationships often involve several independent variables that affect the dependent variable. For the purpose of this example, we’ll work with just one independent variable (“hours of study”).

Now that you’ve figured out your research question and variables, the first step in designing your conceptual framework is visualizing your expected cause-and-effect relationship.

We demonstrate this using basic design components of boxes and arrows. Here, each variable appears in a box. To indicate a causal relationship, each arrow should start from the independent variable (the cause) and point to the dependent variable (the effect).


It’s crucial to identify other variables that can influence the relationship between your independent and dependent variables early in your research process.

Some common variables to include are moderating, mediating, and control variables.

Moderating variables

Moderating variable (or moderators) alter the effect that an independent variable has on a dependent variable. In other words, moderators change the “effect” component of the cause-and-effect relationship.

Let’s add the moderator “IQ.” Here, a student’s IQ level can change the effect that the variable “hours of study” has on the exam score. The higher the IQ, the fewer hours of study are needed to do well on the exam.


Let’s take a look at how this might work. The graph below shows how the number of hours spent studying affects exam score. As expected, the more hours you study, the better your results. Here, a student who studies for 20 hours will get a perfect score.


But the graph looks different when we add our “IQ” moderator of 120. A student with this IQ will achieve a perfect score after just 15 hours of study.


Below, the value of the “IQ” moderator has been increased to 150. A student with this IQ will only need to invest five hours of study in order to get a perfect score.


Here, we see that a moderating variable does indeed change the cause-and-effect relationship between two variables.

Mediating variables

Now we’ll expand the framework by adding a mediating variable . Mediating variables link the independent and dependent variables, allowing the relationship between them to be better explained.

Here’s how the conceptual framework might look if a mediator variable were involved:


In this case, the mediator helps explain why studying more hours leads to a higher exam score. The more hours a student studies, the more practice problems they will complete; the more practice problems completed, the higher the student’s exam score will be.

Moderator vs. mediator

It’s important not to confuse moderating and mediating variables. To remember the difference, you can think of them in relation to the independent variable:

Control variables

Lastly,  control variables must also be taken into account. These are variables that are held constant so that they don’t interfere with the results. Even though you aren’t interested in measuring them for your study, it’s crucial to be aware of as many of them as you can be.


A mediator variable explains the process through which two variables are related, while a moderator variable affects the strength and direction of that relationship.

A confounding variable is closely related to both the independent and dependent variables in a study. An independent variable represents the supposed cause , while the dependent variable is the supposed effect . A confounding variable is a third variable that influences both the independent and dependent variables.

Failing to account for confounding variables can cause you to wrongly estimate the relationship between your independent and dependent variables.

Yes, but including more than one of either type requires multiple research questions .

For example, if you are interested in the effect of a diet on health, you can use multiple measures of health: blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, pulse, and many more. Each of these is its own dependent variable with its own research question.

You could also choose to look at the effect of exercise levels as well as diet, or even the additional effect of the two combined. Each of these is a separate independent variable .

To ensure the internal validity of an experiment , you should only change one independent variable at a time.

A control variable is any variable that’s held constant in a research study. It’s not a variable of interest in the study, but it’s controlled because it could influence the outcomes.

A confounding variable , also called a confounder or confounding factor, is a third variable in a study examining a potential cause-and-effect relationship.

A confounding variable is related to both the supposed cause and the supposed effect of the study. It can be difficult to separate the true effect of the independent variable from the effect of the confounding variable.

In your research design , it’s important to identify potential confounding variables and plan how you will reduce their impact.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Swaen, B. & George, T. (2022, November 15). What Is a Conceptual Framework? | Tips & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 1, 2023, from

Is this article helpful?

Bas Swaen

Other students also liked

Independent vs. dependent variables | definition & examples, mediator vs. moderator variables | differences & examples, control variables | what are they & why do they matter, what is your plagiarism score.

Understanding Theoretical or Conceptual Framework for PhD Research

Welcome to Chanakya Research . Stay tuned for latest updates on our services.

For any other information, feel free to send us an email at [email protected] OR contact us .

Doctoral students hate to hear these words from their supervisor or guide: “your study sounds promising,but what is your theoretical framework?” This question is often met with silence , raised eyebrows ,or shrugged shoulders indicating more information needed about this term . In discussing the theoretical framework, Merriam (2001) stated, “A colleague of mine once commented that if she could have cut a year off of her graduate studies! Indeed, the theoretical and conceptual framework study and where theory fits into a research continue to mystify and frustrate many a novice (and sometimes experienced) researcher”. Few texts or books about writing a dissertation or thesis discuss the process , importance, ,or purpose of developing a conceptual and theoretical framework and making it explicit.

What is a theoretical or conceptual framework?

It is a lens through which your research problem can be viewed. It can be a theory, a construct that conceptualizes your study’s focus , or a research perspective . Miles and Huberman(1994) defined it this way:”A conceptual framework explains, either graphically or in narrative form, the main things to be studied- they key factors, constructs, or variables- and presumed relationships among them. Frameworks can be rudimentary or elaborate, theory driven or commensensicial , descriptive or causal. Some of the visuals form a conceptual framework that could be taken on tree diagrams , mind maps, flow charts, concept maps , or diagrams such as triangles and circles, and so on. In their book, qualitative data analysis, Miles and huberman (1994) provided several graphic illustrations followed by descriptive narrative that served as examples of conceptual or theoretical frameworks.

The conceptual or theoretical frameworks provide the boundaries, or scaffolding , for your study. Like a microscope , it narrows your field of vision, thus helping you limit the scope of your study. After all, it is usually not possible to study everything about your research topic . A conceptual  or theoretical framework identifies which of the “ key factors, constructs, or variables”are in and which are out. Making your conceptual or theoretical framework explicit provides clarity for the reader as to exactly what your study is about and provides the focus and content for making decisions about your study’s design. By not not grounding your study within an explicit conceptual or theoretical frame, your study takes on “so what?” quality.

How does a conceptual framework differ from a theoretical framework?

Often, the terms conceptual framework and theoretical framework are used interchangeably , and rarely is a differentiation made. A theory is a discussion about related concepts , assumptions, and generalizations, while concepts can be defined as words or phrases that represent several interrelated ideas . If your study is grounded in particular theory or theories , then perhaps the better term would be theoretical framework, since theory would be used to explain the particular phenomenon under study. It implies a higher level of conceptual organization . If your study doesn’t include a specific theory , it still contains concepts  and subconcepts that define the interrelationship of the ideas contained in your study. Some studies contain a review of theory as well as conceptual framework. I recommended a conference with your PhD research advisor to determine the best approach for your particular study. Remember , no study is about implicit framework. 

Why do you need a conceptual or theoretical framework?

A well-defined conceptual or theoretical framework helps you to view your area of interest more acutely. Like a telescope or microscope , a conceptual or theoretical framework narrows and begins to focus your field of vision , which is a necessary scope of study.It helps define the research problem and structures the writing of your literature view . In addition, it acts as a filtering tool to select appropriate research questions and to guide data collection , analysis , and interpretation of finding . According to Meraim(2001), “ all aspects of study are affected by its theoretical framework”.

How do you find a conceptual or theoretical framework?

The best way to select an appropriate conceptual or theoretical framework for your study is to immerse yourself in the research and theoretical literature related to your topic of interest. You may not find a specific theory to guide your study; however, you will discover a variety of interrelated core concepts and subconcepts from which to frame your study.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Our Resources

© All Rights Reserved by Chanakya Research, 2011 - 2021

Our Packages

0091.11.4951 3011 (Delhi Board number)

0091.44.4019 9300 (Chennai)

Phone No: ( 9 AM to 7 PM on Working Days)

[email protected]

Schedule Online Meeting

Journal Paper Development

phd thesis conceptual framework

Conceptual Framework

The Conceptual framework for your Ph.D. Research

Are you looking for ways on how to create a written or visual, conceptual framework? To draw a conceptual map structure, one needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the theories that make the conceptual distinction and differentiate ideas into a new format. It will also help to develop hypotheses, a framework for research designs, interpretations, and Generalization. Additionally, it acts as a context for exploring the existing research issues.

Luckily, you have reached the right destination.

PhD Assistance Logo

Why do you need to choose Ph.D. Assistance for your Conceptual framework?

Our Expertise utilizes a conceptual framework for your Ph.D. Dissertation that gives scope to your Complete research. We have a team of research specialists who collaborate and analyze all the collected latest references based on a Ph.D. thesis topic and help you to explore your thesis in more recent and advanced perspective.

Come, join us and become a part of the fast-growing community of assistance to the conceptual framework.

Come, join us and become a part of the fast-growing community of Ph.D. Research Sch


Conceptual framework

The conceptual framework describes the researcher’s synthesis of a literature review on how to explicate the phenomenon. It beautifully displays the actions required during the study and is given through previous knowledge of other researcher’s perspective and his observation about research. The conceptual framework lies within extensive or wider framework called as a theoretical framework.

Get systematic novel conceptual framework help

We create a broad & novel conceptual framework that produces exact flowchart or diagram of your research by identifying the gap in research/knowledge through analyzing some of the critical reviews of the literature or abstract ideas. However, it looks very easy, but it is a tedious task to gather reference for your complete dissertation paper.

Best and unique Ph.D. Dissertation conceptual framework Analysis

Most of the students are facing an extremely confused and frustrated situation when working on the framework for the theoretical concept. As conceptual framework forms the base for any research. Therefore, the journey towards theoretical ‘know what’ or know how’ is worth planning. It needs to be started with reviewing the wide literature on the topic and asking for basic questions, describing and defining relationships and finally proposing potential links between factors. The sound theoretical base research is the absorption of knowledge that merges into the thought processes At Ph.D. Assistance; we offer theoretical development for your proposed research.

Wake up! Go for it with your Ph.D. Topic

Uk dissertation conceptual framework showcases our exceptionality.

Our conceptual dissertation frameworks demonstrate how we have consciously and clearly identified the ideas and taken references completely satisfying the research goals from simple to complex.

Ph.D. conceptual framework developers – From the Top Class Universities across the Globe

Fortunately, we manage to complete Ph.D. conceptual framework as per the expectations of your guide and the topic being researched, due to the professional work of our experienced, knowledgeable and qualified staff of subject matter expertise. In order to remain our position in the high level, we assigned assignment orders of students to the most talented UK and US conceptual framework researchers and writers. These writers have many years of experience in research writing field in UK and US with profound knowledge of their disciplines and years of experience working with students of world-class Universities. We firmly believe working in the stress-free environment and make sure the same for all your students seeking our profession. Our in-depth knowledge of the research subject, meticulous planning, organizing and presentation Skills, 100% client commitment has always been handy in completing all our student’s research projects well ahead of the deadline.

So, Relax! Your Ph.D. Research project will be in Safe hands

Ph.d. assistance pricing plans the uk, what services do we offer under conceptual framework service.

We do the conceptual framework based on the pricing plan. Although this conceptual framework looks, simple but is a tedious task to complete this writing.

We understand you better and customize our service to your specific needs

At Ph.D. Assistance, our expert course writers have vast experience in handling specialized areas like research methodology, statistical analysis using sophisticated software like SPSS, statistical review, citation review, etc. Our course writers possess the domestic, US and UK industry standard qualification and possess excellent ability and skills to articulate complex ideas in a clear and concise writing style.

Get in touch with our Subject-matter expertise across the globe

We offer brief conceptualization abstract writing services for management, life Science, arts, social science and health, biological and medical sciences and much more.

Our Process is Simple & Straightforward

Your conceptual framework will simply fulfill the research need. Yet, its contribution will be made visible – better research, underpinned by sound theory and leading to demonstrable effects on practice.


Outstanding Service features

Ph.d. assistance offers various types of conceptual framework writing services like, topic selection or choose your topic, literature review, segregate the important variables, formulate the conceptual framework.

With the help of mixed variables, you can develop the conceptual framework from the various published STM materials you have chosen. Further, identifying the problem statement acts as the reference in constructing the conceptual framework. This research study will attempt to answer the question that other researchers have not answered or explained yet. Without any doubt, your research should fill or address the research gap.

We design conceptual framework for

A Qualitative study: In this study, we do not develop conceptual framework rather apply the conceptual framework.

Examples of common conceptual frameworks cited by LII students include; Connectivist, Constructivist, Cognitive Load Theory, Social Learning Theory, Sociocultural Learning Theory, Self-Efficacy Theory, Transformational Learning, Transactional Distance Theory, Systems Theory, Diffusion of Innovation Theory, and Experiential Learning Theory. Based Adoption Model (CBAM); Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK), Community of Inquiry (3 presences; teacher, social, and cognitive presence), Five Factor Mentor Model, and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM).

Our team has offered a Conceptual framework of 2000+ dissertation projects successfully.

We formulate theory by specifying the theory used, mentions the proponents, cite the main points, support exposition of the theory, illustrate the framework by means of a diagram and reiterates the theoretical proposition.

Our Ph.D. Conceptual framework is exclusive

We not only write but also explain the concept and showcase forward-thinking reference to show how we do this possible through a brainstorming session.

Brainstorm Your ideas

Plagiarism report, quality assurance, our ph.d. research writing, rewriting & mentoring help., we are committed to providing value for your money and time you invest with us, 0% plagiarism content.

We’re aware of the consequences of the plagiarism, therefore provide you 100% plagiarism free content. We ensure that our experts scan the works through online plagiarism tools as well as Turnitin or WriteCheck.


Every work is purely original as well as our premium researcher understand the value of grades in writing the one-off dissertation paper since they are passionate about doing the research. We offer only tailor-made Ph.D. dissertation writing services which are unique, and it gives you completeness and satisfaction for your money.

Reasonable cost

At Ph.D. help, we strive hard to provide the ultimate Ph.D. dissertation research methodology writing services with high-class quality at a reasonable cost compare to the globally available service provider. Our assistance is globally available who would work as per their currency charges and timings. Our pricing plan is constant irrespective of places, subjects, and universities as well as provide only same high-quality works to all the students.

100% Match with requirement

We help to match Your requirement 100% since our experienced writers upgraded with the topic and analyze well before working on the dissertation. In the each of the dissertation stages, we always check with you before we move to the next chapters. Further, our services purely follow your university-upgraded guidelines to ensure that dissertation meets the expected standards.

Meet Deadline

The committed timeline is our promise to our every client. We understand timeline that decides your future, and therefore our work is delivered as per the deadline committed. For minor changes, we guarantee delivery within 24 working hours and any major changes to dissertation chapters will be carried out within 48 working hours. We check all your emails with 30 minutes of working hours. We plan your complete dissertation within short time help you to save time for changes and updates.

Word Count Committed

Our experts can handle the maximum word counts in the Ph.D. dissertation writing that range from 8,000 -80,000 words. In additional, as per your university guidelines and requirement, we complete the Ph.D. research methodology that meets specific word counts since we completely understand the appointed universities committee members will reduce the credits if the word counts decrease. We count the words without adding Reference, Chart table, Table of Contents, Appendix, Bibliography and Interview responses.

Quality check

We undertake the rigorous quality check and assurance process at every step of your dissertation thereby you are assured to get the accurate output. Our experts check every time and verify the given requirement, so your final output meets the standard. We analyze and check your document based on the language, technical words, subject matter, referencing, formatting, plagiarism and overall.

Unlimited Revision

Every researcher has different points of view. Therefore, we offer unlimited revisions. Our team of Ph.D. experts respects the feedback provided by the guide or supervisor and provide sufficient changes to enhance your research work. The revision carried out at this stage is complementary*.

Latest referenced sources

Our dissertation writing projects are completely referenced with updated online sources, journal articles, research, textbooks, corporate document and other international and national regulatory documents. Our team of ultimate copyeditors exceptionally work for university specific referencing system since we understand the value of each credit.

PhD Mentors with adequate experience

Rely on our unique and affordable ph.d. dissertation mentoring services, as well as your order, you will also get the following..

Our Additional Features

Fully Referenced

All our academic mentoring, whether an essay, report, dissertation or any other form of academic writing that built on other thoughts and ideas, are acknowledged appropriately. This is necessary to the reader in identifying and finding the relevant sources. We ensure that the usage of references would be largely within the main body of your report while the introduction and the conclusion be largely based on the ideas. This is to ensure avoiding plagiarism. Acknowledgment is done in the text (i.e., in work) and subsequently linked to the full lists presented under the references lists section (end of your work of all sources you refer to).

Formatting & Referencing

The research report is formatted based on the recommended formatting guidelines. Since, there are many different guidelines available including APA, MLA, Harvard and therefore, we strictly follow the guideline given by the scholars. Based on the referencing style (e.g. APA, Harvard, MLA, Oxford), the report will be formatted. Further, we also format to ensure (1) to avoid plagiarism (2) to assign proper authority to a statement, (3) sentence structuring and finally adding a table of content, and Lists of Tables & Figures. Footnotes or endnotes are also being taken care by our formatting team.

Study Materials Sharing

We not only deliver the work that you ordered but also we take one step forward to ensure that you are aware of reference materials used in the research work. Every article whether a journal article, textbook, PhD dissertation, translated works, newspaper articles, dictionary, or web pages, lectures (usually includes speaker name, date, name and the location) encyclopaedia entries, legal or historical text, PDFs, PPTs, YouTube Videos, annual reports and many more– will be shared to the research scholar for future reference. On a special request, we also mark / highlight the articles that are most important for the student to read and understand. Additional reference materials will be shared via zipping file through Google drive or drop box so you can use it again during the viva or any other process.

Client Testimony


My friend recommended that I use your service just when I was about to give up on my dissertation. Because I was trapped and didn't know what to do, the suggestion came at a good moment. I'm now a PhD holder, and I'm overjoyed about it. Thank you for your help

N.M. (U.S.)


I'm a PCC undergraduate who had to do a scientific poster presentation. Your templates were beautiful and easy to use. I had no issue creating, altering, or changing the entire thing. It was also arrived on schedule and looked fantastic! I was quite taken aback. So, we're my classmates as well as my teacher. Thank you for your quick and efficient service!

D M., Scotland Order No:32SGR130


I'd want to express my gratitude to Phdassistance for their invaluable assistance in developing our programme. Everyone was courteous, competent, and diligent. I was able to meet our deadline thanks to them, and I want to continue working with them in the future.

H.Y., Northern Ireland , Order No:16FYYZ007

I was blown away by the ease and speed with which I was able to place my order, as well as the speed with which it was sent and arrived. The fabric poster was excellent. This is a service I will definitely use again!
I can say that it was a pleasant experience in which Phdassistance displayed flexibility in adapting to our needs and presented an exceptional report that met all of our expectations. Personally, I appreciated the team's prompt follow-up, and we will undoubtedly contact them if additional research assistance is required.

Order Process

Ordering your complete or part Ph.D. Dissertation process from Ph.D. Assistance is quick and easy. You need to follow the easy steps given below

Step 1. Complete the order form

You can provide as much information as you can about your project and the specific assistance that you require from us. It will help our research team to understand your requirements.

Step 4: Edit & Proofreading

After receiving the work from writers, we send the document to editing and proofreading department to ensure that the work is free of any grammatical or language errors. Where the content is minutely scrutinized by a qualified team of native English speakers and language editors. Whether it is UK OR the US English language, we ensure that the styles are not mixed. Following the proofreading and editing, the content undergoes a quality and plagiarism check. The quality check ensures that the content matches the requirement and is relevant whereas, plagiarism check ensures that the content is original.

Step 7: We check against the requirement

Once your dissertation work is completed, we compare and cross verify the final documents like title, context, spelling error, language error, grammar, punctuation mistakes, wrong manuscript style and quality against the client's requirement. We look at each detail very keenly to ensure whether it is an exactly cited and align with your requirement.

Step 10: Request for amendment

If you required any changes done by your appointed committee or supervisor you can always come back to us and do not hesitate, we are ready to do unlimited revisions for the concept being committed. Comments can be shared through our official email at [email protected]

Step 13: Our researcher makes the changes

The document will be received from our writer or programmer, and once the work is finished, we’ll share you the complete work through email or you can download the order through CRM. If you are need of any changes or corrections in your document, you can contact us at any working hours without any hesitation. We are happy to incorporate the changes as per the initial commitment.

Step 2: Make payment for your specific mentoring requirement

You will be required to make the prescribed payment for the specific service you are opting for. The payment would vary per the type of research methodology and timelines. You are required to make the payment through our secure online payment system.

Step 5: Update process

We will provide complete updates with regards to the progress of your project. It will be a two-way process wherein you would also be required to update us about any changes or additional instructions that you might receive from your university or college from time to time.

Step 8: 100% Plagiarism Assurance

Once your dissertation underwent to the editing and proofreading process, your final document is checked for plagiarism with anti-plagiarism software tools before the delivery. Since we provide plagiarism reports, certificate to ensure the students not finding any issues in the future. Our high-quality research and streamlined process.

Step 11: We undertake free unlimited revisions

Another feature that is unique to Ph.D. Assistance is that we offer unlimited revisions that are totally free. In the rare instance that there is a variation between perceptions of the expert from those of the client, there is a scope for disagreement. In such instances, we are open to making changes to the research methodology as per the client’s requirement. Any additional inputs given by the client’s guide is also addressed by our experts. We ensure that every change as suggested by the client is incorporated till such time that the client is entirely satisfied.

Step 14: Amendment Request

In case after going through the project you feel the need to modify the executed research methodology, you can make a request for modification while highlighting the modifications required. Once we receive the request for modification, our experts will verify if the changes suggested are valid and work on it accordingly.

Step 3: Order confirmation communication

An official order confirmation communication will be sent to the email address specified by you at the time of the initial registration. We start the process within a couple of days* after your payment received.

Step 6: Assigning Subject Matter Expertise

Based on your requirement an expert who is most qualified and experienced in executing your research methodology will be assigned to you. The assigned expert will be responsible for extending complete assistance throughout the duration of the project. Experts at Ph.D. Assistance are carefully chosen through a rigorous recruitment process. Stringent recruitment norms ensure that only the right people with the right qualification and experience are selected. During the recruitment process, they are evaluated for their knowledge, critical thinking, language and ability to understand concepts. Thus, our team is an eclectic mix of Ph.D. holders, medical experts, engineers, management and financial wizards who not only have a strong grasp over their domain but they also have an inherent ability to execute research methodology assignments effortlessly while maintaining the quality.

Step 9: Free Appendices / Resources

We just not only deliver your work but take one step forward to ensure that you’re aware of reference materials used in the research work *. All reference materials will be shared via zipping file through Google drive or drop box to ensure you can make use of the same again during the viva voice or any other process.

Step 12: Download your Order

With the help of customized CRM, not only your interaction becomes easy. Now, it is a very simple process that you can download your order through our CRM and reminder will be sent through email & SMS. An additional copy will also be mailed. Our CRM is safe, secure and anti-virus enabled which keeps your documents in a highly secured manner.

Step 15: We value your Feedback to improve our services

Share your opinion and feedback through our official email id [email protected]

Sample Work

Track Your Projects

Customer Center


  1. 1 Framework of the thesis

    phd thesis conceptual framework

  2. Thesis Quantitative Research Paper Theoretical Framework Example

    phd thesis conceptual framework

  3. Thesis Theoretical Framework Diagram

    phd thesis conceptual framework

  4. Conceptual framework phd thesis proposal

    phd thesis conceptual framework

  5. theoretical framework thesis example

    phd thesis conceptual framework

  6. Conceptual Framework Example Thesis Pdf

    phd thesis conceptual framework


  1. The Truth About Buying Supercars

  2. S2E3 PEI Open House

  3. The Thesis

  4. What makes a thesis EXCELLENT?

  5. Principles of Research Methodology in Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences by Dr Mansour Amini

  6. முதுகலை & முனைவர்ப் பட்ட ஆய்வு மாணவர்களுக்கான ஆய்வேடு எழுதும் வழிகாட்டி வகுப்பு:தொடர் 6


  1. What is a Conceptual Framework?

    The conceptual framework is a section of the dissertation where you can expect to see landmark studies and seminal works used as a solid

  2. How to Pick a Theoretical / Conceptual Framework For Your

    What is a theoretical framework? What is a conceptual framework? Which theoretical or conceptual framework should I choose for my doctoral dissertation?

  3. Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks for Thesis Studies

    A robust conceptual or theoretical framework is crucial when writing a thesis/dissertation. It defines your research gap, identifies your approach, and guides

  4. Conceptual Framework

    Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework in Dissertation Research: Creating the Blueprint for Your “House.

  5. What Is a Conceptual Framework?

    You can start conceptualizing this as you determine your relevant paper, thesis, or dissertation topic. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to

  6. Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework

    thread theory throughout the dissertation. Keywords: theoretical framework, dissertation, doctoral, academic writing, research methods. The dissertation is

  7. Conceptual frameworks in a Masters or Doctoral thesis

    This presentation describes how to develop a conceptual framework in a thesis or dissertation.

  8. What is a theoretical or conceptual framework

    Hello Everybody! I'm Dr. Guy, author of "The Dissertation Warrior" and founder of the The Dissertation Mentor® Accelerator Program -- the

  9. Understanding Theoretical or Conceptual Framework for PhD

    The conceptual or theoretical frameworks provide the boundaries, or scaffolding , for your study. Like a microscope , it narrows your field of

  10. Developing conceptual framework in Phd dissertation Research

    The conceptual framework describes the researcher's synthesis of a literature review on how to explicate the phenomenon. It beautifully displays the actions