Conceptual and Theoretical Frameworks

Theoretical Frameworks

A theoretical frame(TF) work begins with a previously validated theory. Next, a TF aligns the main assumptions and tenets of the TF with the critical components of the study at hand. The elements, ideas, variables of the study at hand are make sense of with this overlap of the TF onto them.

How to spot the theoretical framework

Not all research articles use a TF. If a study does use a TF, the use of TF in a study can been seen by the common thread and unifying-factor role which the TF provides through the study at hand explaining the rationale for selection of the particular TF, the literature review and the research question(s).

Where to find the theoretical framework

Typically, readers will find the TF introduced and the selection of the TF rationalized toward the beginning of the study so that the reader can conceptualize the literature review, study questions and methodology.

Conceptual Frameworks


-A conceptual framework encompasses the entire study in a summative way and in so doing articulates and “conceptualizes” the whole study

Where to find the conceptual framework

If a study utilizes a conceptual framework (CF), the findings of a study are drawn together and made sense of through the CF.

How to spot a conceptual framework

Often CF can be found in a visualization, concept map, or other visual representation in either/both of the findings and discussion sections. A visualization and/or narrative with a CF will detail and established relationships between, 1)data-informed relationships between the main-constructs and/or prime-variables, and, 2) the findings/results/outcomes.

Where to find the conceptual framework

A CF is seen making sense of the findings (collected and analyzed data).