A Guide to Understand The Conceptual Framework in a Better Way


The roots of a conceptual framework are associated with 'Theoretical framework'.

A theoretical framework is analogous to the frame of the house.

It is a logically structured representation of the concepts, variables and relationships involved in a scientific study with the purpose of clearly identifying what will be explored, described or measured.

Just as the foundation supports a house, a theoretical framework provides a rationale for the prediction about the relationship between the variable of a research study.

Draw a literature map to get a better clarity on the linkages between various theories/papers and also to facilitate identifying the research gap.

What is a Conceptual Framework:

A conceptual framework is a way of representing the thinking about a problem.

It represents researcher’s synthesis of literature on how to explain a phenomenon. It maps out the actions required in the course of study.

The conceptual framework can be understood as an explanation of how a researcher sees the different concept and outcomes of the study and its relations with each other. It may be an adaption used in a previous study with modification to suit the inquiry.

Ingredients of a Conceptual Framework:

  • A conceptual framework is comprised of concepts and the relational linkage between them. These relational linkages are called as the propositional statement.
  • Concepts describe and name an object or phenomenon abstractly, thus providing it with separate identity or meaning.
  • A conceptual framework is an intellectual representation of some aspect of reality, derived from the observation made on the phenomenon.

Eg: Anxiety, Stress or Pain.

What it does:

  • Conceptual framework serves as the springboard for theory development.
  • It shows the relationship of the stated hypothesis with central factors or key concepts.
  • Each framework highlights or emphasizes a different aspect of a problem or research question.
  • It represents a partial view of reality.
  • A conceptual framework focuses attention on and amplifies certain element of a problem.

What inputs go into developing a Conceptual Framework:

Other than the experimental knowledge of a researcher and supervisor, following inputs are needed for developing a conceptual framework.

  • Literature Review
  • Knowledge of Particular research domain
  • Research Background
  • Personal Experience
  • Data

Types of Concepts:

  • Abstract concept or theoretical concept
  • Empirical or descriptive concept

Developing a Conceptual Framework

  1. Explore the relationship between variables:

Identify the specific variable described in the literature review and find out how these variables are related to each other. Some abstracts contain the variables and the salient finding thus may serve the purpose. If these are not available, find the research paper’s summary. If the variables are not explicit in the summary, get back to the methodology or the result and discussion section and quickly identify the variables of the study and the significant findings.

  1. Identify Variable:

Identify the concepts and categorize them. It can be abstract or concrete. For an abstract concept it is broad and may not be readily observable and meaning of which are more far from time space and referent group and is not easily measureable.

Specific or concrete concepts are amenable to measurement.

  1. Define Variables:

This is the main function of a conceptual framework in descriptive study or research. A variable is something that changes. It changes according to different factors. Some variables are almost constant like the name of someone while other variables change easily like the stock exchange value.

  1. Operationalize Variable:

Operationalization is the process of strictly defining variable into measurable factors. The process defines fuzzy concepts and allows them to be measured, empirically and quantitatively. It also sets down exact definition of each variable, increasing the quality of the result and improving the robustness of the design.

Eg: Numerical pain scale intensity to measure the pain.

  1. Develop relational statements/proposition:

State the relationship between concepts. This provides the idea for testing and hypothesis development. Hypotheses are developed from these propositional statements of a conceptual framework.


Here, we are developing a conceptual framework for the research problem “Condition of Islamic Banking in Dubai”


  • It provides clear links from the literature to the research goals and questions.
  • It keeps research on track.
  • It helps the researchers to see clearly the variable of the study.
  • It clarifies concepts and proposes relationship among concepts.
  • It helps in providing an organized structure for research design and methods.
  • It guides the development and testing of interventions and hypothesis
  • The interpretation of finding flows from the conceptualization represented by the framework.
  • It provides reference points for discussion of the methodology and analysis of the data.
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