Have a language expert improve your writing

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

  • Knowledge Base
  • Methodology
  • What Is a Conceptual Framework? | Tips & Examples

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 .

  • The expected cause, “hours of study,” is the independent variable (the predictor, or explanatory variable)
  • The expected effect, “exam score,” is the dependent variable (the response, or outcome variable).

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:

  • A moderating variable is not affected by the independent variable, even though it affects the dependent variable. For example, no matter how many hours you study (the independent variable), your IQ will not get higher.
  • A mediating variable is affected by the independent variable. In turn, it also affects the dependent variable. Therefore, it links the two variables and helps explain the relationship between them.

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 September 7, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/conceptual-framework/

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.

Something went wrong. Wait a moment and try again.

  • Link to facebook
  • Link to linkedin
  • Link to twitter
  • Link to youtube
  • Writing Tips

How to Make a Conceptual Framework

How to Make a Conceptual Framework

  • 6-minute read
  • 2nd January 2022

What is a conceptual framework? And why is it important?

A conceptual framework illustrates the relationship between the variables of a research question. It’s an outline of what you’d expect to find in a research project.

Conceptual frameworks should be constructed before data collection and are vital because they map out the actions needed in the study. This should be the first step of an undergraduate or graduate research project.

What Is In a Conceptual Framework?

In a conceptual framework, you’ll find a visual representation of the key concepts and relationships that are central to a research study or project . This can be in form of a diagram, flow chart, or any other visual representation. Overall, a conceptual framework serves as a guide for understanding the problem being studied and the methods being used to investigate it.

Steps to Developing the Perfect Conceptual Framework

  • Pick a question
  • Conduct a literature review
  • Identify your variables
  • Create your conceptual framework

1. Pick a Question

You should already have some idea of the broad area of your research project. Try to narrow down your research field to a manageable topic in terms of time and resources. From there, you need to formulate your research question . A research question answers the researcher’s query: “What do I want to know about my topic?” Research questions should be focused, concise, arguable and, ideally, should address a topic of importance within your field of research.

An example of a simple research question is: “What is the relationship between sunny days and ice cream sales?”

2. Conduct a Literature Review

A literature review is an analysis of the scholarly publications on a chosen topic. To undertake a literature review, search for articles with the same theme as your research question. Choose updated and relevant articles to analyze and use peer-reviewed and well-respected journals whenever possible.

For the above example, the literature review would investigate publications that discuss how ice cream sales are affected by the weather. The literature review should reveal the variables involved and any current hypotheses about this relationship.

3. Identify Your Variables

There are two key variables in every experiment: independent and dependent variables.

Independent Variables

The independent variable (otherwise known as the predictor or explanatory variable) is the expected cause of the experiment: what the scientist changes or changes on its own. In our example, the independent variable would be “the number of sunny days.”

Dependent Variables

The dependent variable (otherwise known as the response or outcome variable) is the expected effect of the experiment: what is being studied or measured. In our example, the dependent variable would be “the quantity of ice cream sold.”

Next, there are control variables.

Control Variables

A control variable is a variable that may impact the dependent variable but whose effects are not going to be measured in the research project. In our example, a control variable could be “the socioeconomic status of participants.” Control variables should be kept constant to isolate the effects of the other variables in the experiment.

Finally, there are intervening and extraneous variables.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Intervening Variables

Intervening variables link the independent and dependent variables and clarify their connection. In our example, an intervening variable could be “temperature.”

Extraneous Variables

Extraneous variables are any variables that are not being investigated but could impact the outcomes of the study. Some instances of extraneous variables for our example would be “the average price of ice cream” or “the number of varieties of ice cream available.” If you control an extraneous variable, it becomes a control variable.

4. Create Your Conceptual Framework

Having picked your research question, undertaken a literature review, and identified the relevant variables, it’s now time to construct your conceptual framework. Conceptual frameworks are clear and often visual representations of the relationships between variables.

We’ll start with the basics: the independent and dependent variables.

Our hypothesis is that the quantity of ice cream sold directly depends on the number of sunny days; hence, there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the independent variable (the number of sunny days) and the dependent and independent variable (the quantity of ice cream sold).

Next, introduce a control variable. Remember, this is anything that might directly affect the dependent variable but is not being measured in the experiment:

Finally, introduce the intervening and extraneous variables. 

The intervening variable (temperature) clarifies the relationship between the independent variable (the number of sunny days) and the dependent variable (the quantity of ice cream sold). Extraneous variables, such as the average price of ice cream, are variables that are not controlled and can potentially impact the dependent variable.

Are Conceptual Frameworks and Research Paradigms the Same?

In simple terms, the research paradigm is what informs your conceptual framework. In defining our research paradigm we ask the big questions—Is there an objective truth and how can we understand it? If we decide the answer is yes, we may be working with a positivist research paradigm and will choose to build a conceptual framework that displays the relationship between fixed variables. If not, we may be working with a constructivist research paradigm, and thus our conceptual framework will be more of a loose amalgamation of ideas, theories, and themes (a qualitative study). If this is confusing–don’t worry! We have an excellent blog post explaining research paradigms in more detail.

Where is the Conceptual Framework Located in a Thesis?

This will depend on your discipline, research type, and school’s guidelines, but most papers will include a section presenting the conceptual framework in the introduction, literature review, or opening chapter. It’s best to present your conceptual framework after presenting your research question, but before outlining your methodology.

Can a Conceptual Framework be Used in a Qualitative Study?

Yes. Despite being less clear-cut than a quantitative study, all studies should present some form of a conceptual framework. Let’s say you were doing a study on care home practices and happiness, and you came across a “happiness model” constructed by a relevant theorist in your literature review. Your conceptual framework could be an outline or a visual depiction of how you will use this model to collect and interpret qualitative data for your own study (such as interview responses). Check out this useful resource showing other examples of conceptual frameworks for qualitative studies .

Expert Proofreading for Researchers

Whether you’re a seasoned academic or not, you will want your research paper to be error-free and fluently written. That’s where proofreading comes in. Our editors are on hand 24 hours a day to ensure your writing is concise, clear, and precise. Submit a free sample of your writing today to try our services.

Share this article:

' src=

Post A New Comment

Get help from a language expert. Try our proofreading services for free.

3-minute read

Its vs. It’s: Punctuation Explained

In the vast landscape of the English language, certain words seem almost designed to trip...

Sympathy vs. Empathy | Explained

Are you sympathetic to someone’s feelings…or are you empathetic? Or do they mean the same...

Spelling Tips: Spelt or Spelled

English spellings are nearly always the same wherever English is the first language, but there...

What Is an Oxford Comma?

The Oxford comma, otherwise known as the serial comma, may be one of the most...

How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper

If you’re writing a research paper, the conclusion is your opportunity to summarize your findings...

4-minute read

How to Write a Research Paper Outline

Embarking on the journey of writing a research paper can be both exciting and overwhelming....

Logo Harvard University

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.

Conceptual Framework: A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make One

What is a conceptual framework? How do you prepare one? This article defines the conceptual framework and lists the steps on how to prepare it. A simplified example is added to strengthen the reader’s understanding.

In preparing your research paper as one requirement 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. The conceptual framework serves as a “map” or “rudder” that will guide you towards realizing your study’s objectives or intent.

What, then, is a conceptual framework in empirical research? The next section defines and explains the term.

Table of Contents

Definition of conceptual framework.

A conceptual framework represents the researcher’s synthesis of the literature on how to explain a phenomenon. It maps out the actions required in the study’s course, given the researcher’s previous knowledge of other researchers’ point of view and his or her observations about the phenomenon studied.

The conceptual framework is the researcher’s understanding of how the particular  variables  in the study connect. Thus, it identifies the variables required in the research investigation. It is the researcher’s “map” in pursuing the investigation.

As McGaghie  et al . (2001) put it: The conceptual framework “sets the stage” to present the particular research question that drives the investigation being reported based on the problem statement. The problem statement of a thesis gives the context and the issues that caused the researcher to conduct the study.

The conceptual framework lies within a much broader framework called a theoretical framework . The latter draws support from time-tested theories that embody many researchers’ findings on why and how a particular phenomenon occurs.

I expounded on this definition, including its purpose, in my recent post titled “ What is a Conceptual Framework? Expounded Definition and Five Purposes .”

4 Steps on How to Make the Conceptual Framework

Before you prepare your conceptual framework, you need to do the following things:

Please enable JavaScript

Choose your topic

Decide on what will be your research topic. The topic should be within your field of specialization. (Generate your research topic using brainstorming tips ).

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. Preferably use peer-reviewed , and well-known scientific journals as these are reliable sources of information.

Isolate the important variables

Identify the specific variables described in the literature and figure out how these are related. Some research abstracts contain the variables, and the salient findings thus may serve the purpose. If these are not available, find the research paper’s summary.

If the variables are not explicit in summary, get back to the methodology or the results and discussion section and quickly identify the study variables and the significant findings. Read  the TSPU Technique  to skim articles efficiently and get to the essential points with little fuss.

Generate the conceptual framework

Build your conceptual framework using your mix of the variables from the scientific articles you have read. Your problem statement or research objective serves as a reference for constructing it. In effect, your study will attempt to answer the question that other researchers have not explained yet. Your research should address a knowledge gap .

Example of a Conceptual Framework

Research topic.

Statement number 5 introduced in an earlier post titled How to Write a Thesis Statement  will serve as the basis of the illustrated conceptual framework in the following examples.

The youth, particularly students who need to devote a lot of time using their mobile phones to access their course modules, laptops, or desktops, are most affected. Also, they spend time interacting with their mobile phones as they communicate with their friends on social media channels like Facebook, Messenger, and the like.

When free from schoolwork, many students spend their time viewing films on Netflix, YouTube, or similar sites. These activities can affect their sleeping patterns and cause health problems in the long run because light-emitting diode (LED) exposure reduces the number of hours spent sleeping.

Thesis Statement

Related to the students’ activity, we can write the thesis statement thus:

Thesis statement : Chronic exposure to blue light from LED screens (of computer monitors ,  mobile phones, tablets, and television) deplete melatonin levels, thus reducing the number of sleeping hours among the youth, particularly students who need to work on their academic requirements.

Review of Literature

The literature review supports the thesis statement as among those that catch one’s attention is a paper that warns against the use of LED devices at night. Although we can save a lot of electrical energy by using the efficient LED where the inventors Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura received a Nobel prize in physics in 2014, there is growing evidence that it can cause human health problems, particularly cancer.

Haim & Zubidat (2015)  of the Israeli Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Chronobiology synthesized the literature about LEDs. They found out that blue light from the light-emitting diodes (LED) inhibits melatonin production, particularly during active secretion at night. Melatonin is a neuro-hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Also, it can slow down aging and prevent cancer (Srinivasan et al., 2011).

Thus, looking directly at your laptop, mobile phone, or television at night not only can severely damage your eyes but also prevent the achievement of sound sleeping patterns. As a countermeasure, sleep experts recommend limiting the use of digital devices until 8 o’clock in the evening.

Those affected experience insomnia (see 10 Creative Ways on How to Get Rid of Insomnia ); they sleep less than required (usually less than six hours), and this happens when they spend too much time working on their laptops doing some machine learning stuff, monitoring conversations or posts on social media sites using their mobile phones, or viewing the television at night.

Variables Isolated from the Literature

Using the background information backed by evidence in the literature review, we can now develop the study’s paradigm on the effect of LED exposure to sleep. We will not include all the variables mentioned and select or isolate only those factors that we are interested in.

Figure 1 presents a visual representation, the paradigm, of what we want to correlate in this study. It shows measurable variables that can produce data we can analyze using a statistical test such as either the parametric test Pearson’s Product-Moment Correlation or the nonparametric test Spearman Rho (please refresh if you cannot see the figure).

Notice that the variables of the study are explicit in the paradigm presented in Figure 1. In the illustration, the two variables are:

1) the number of hours devoted in front of the computer, and 2) the number of hours slept through the night until dawn.

The former is the independent variable, while the latter is the dependent variable. Both variables are easy to measure. It is just counting the number of hours spent in front of the computer and the number of hours slept through the night in the study subjects.

Assuming that other things are constant during the study’s performance, it will be possible to relate these two variables and confirm that, indeed, blue light emanated from computer screens can affect one’s sleeping patterns. (Please read the article titled “ Do you know that the computer can disturb your sleeping patterns ?” to find out more about this phenomenon). A correlation analysis will show if the relationship is significant.

Related Reading :

  • How the conceptual framework guides marketing research

Evolution of a Social Theory as Basis of Conceptual Framework Development

Related to the development of the conceptual framework, I wrote a comprehensive article on how a social theory develops by incisively looking at current events that the world is facing now — the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows how society responds to a threat to its very survival.

Specifically, this article focuses on the COVID-19 vaccine, how it develops and gets integrated into the complex fabric of human society. It shows how the development of the vaccine is only part of the story. A major consideration in its development resides in the supporters of the vaccine’s development, the government, and the recipients’ trust, thus the final acceptance of the vaccine.

Social theory serves as the backdrop or theoretical framework of the more focused or variable level conceptual framework. Hence, the paradigm that I develop at the end of that article can serve as a lens to examine how the three players of vaccine development interact more closely at the variable level. It shows the dynamics of power and social structure and how it unfolds in response to a pandemic that affects everyone.

Check out the article titled “ Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine: More Than 90% Effective Against the Coronavirus .” This article shall enrich your knowledge of how an abstract concept narrows down into blocks of researchable topics.

e-Books on Conceptual Framework Development

Because of the many questions about the conceptual framework in this article’s comment section, I wrote an e-Book dedicated to the students’ specific queries. This e-Book answers the many questions and comments regarding the preparation of the conceptual framework.

I provide five practical examples in the original version, based on the readers’ suggested topics, supported by a brief review of existing literature to demonstrate the procedure. In the more recent 2020 version of the eBook, I added five more topics from the audience for ten topics. Hence, the examples represent several disciplines like management, education, business, agriculture, the environment, among others.

This eBook is available in the eBook Store . You may click on the eBook’s image to get more information about the contents.

Haim, A., & Zubidat, A. E. (2015). LED light between Nobel Prize and cancer risk factor. Chronobiology International , 32 (5), 725-727.

McGaghie, W. C.; Bordage, G.; and J. A. Shea (2001). Problem Statement, Conceptual Framework, and Research Question. Retrieved on January 5, 2015 from http://goo.gl/qLIUFg

Srinivasan, V., R Pandi-Perumal, S., Brzezinski, A., P Bhatnagar, K., & P Cardinali, D. (2011). Melatonin, immune function and cancer. Recent patents on endocrine, metabolic & immune drug discovery , 5 (2), 109-123.

©2015 January 5 P. A. Regoniel Updated 11/24/20

Related Posts

How To Choose Between a Focus Group, Survey or Interview: 10 Nice Tips

How To Choose Between a Focus Group, Survey or Interview: 10 Nice Tips

Thinking “beyond” vs “outside” the box.

Knowledge Gap: 3 Important Points to Generate a Research Topic

Knowledge Gap: 3 Important Points to Generate a Research Topic

About the author, patrick a. regoniel, phd.

Dr. Regoniel is a multipotentialite whose skills, knowledge, and interests span many areas of life.


Good day! I would like to seek help because. I am struggling with my conceptual framework of on my quantitative research. my title is Factors of Cigarette Smoking Among Student

Hello Gemma, first things first. Make sure you have written your research objectives. It should be clear in your mind. What do you want to do?

Hello, I am interested in learning more about the conceptual framework and wanted to buy the second edition of your eBook. However, the Paypal link doesn’t seem to work, despite multiple trials. Would you mind looking into this issue? Thanks!

Hello Shijia, it should work now. Just try clicking on it and follow the instructions.

This article is very helpful, especially for a young researcher like me. Thanks a lot.

Incredible indeed! I have learned a l0t while reading this article. It’s crucial and helpful.

Good day, I am working in a thesis on the effect of communication and information as a tool for information at the workplace and I am wondering what my conceptual framework should be like.

Dear Ruth, perhaps what you intend to do is to find out if the communication tool (whatever it is) affects the work productivity of the employees. You have to be clear with the objectives of your study. Just type “research objectives” in the search box of this website and it will show you the articles related to writing the research objectives.

My research topic is ‘identification of difficult concepts in teaching basic science and technology in junior secondary schools’ Pls give me the theoretical/conceptual frame work. Thank you.

Dear Moses, what do you mean by difficult concepts? It’s too broad. What may be difficult to one person may not be difficult to another.

Very interesting and educative information. Please guide me with Conceptual Framework of my study on Performance Management System in an organization: Exploratory Case Study

Doc please I am working on informal settlements and pollution Behaviour in the Adentan Municipality My Objectives are 1 To map out and identify informal settlements in the Adentan Municipality 2. Identify sources of pollution in informal settlements 3.evaluate the influence of indiscriminate waste Disposal on the health of informal dwellers and their environment 4. Establish populations behavior towards the environment. 5. Identify Behavior Change Techniques which can reduce indiscriminate waste Disposal in informal settlements How best can I link my variables I am very confused in building my conceptual Framework.

Dear Eugenia, upon reading your objectives, I can see that you need to harmonize them as some of the objectives appear to be redundant. You need to focus your research on a particular issue. From what I can discern, you would like to know if there is a relationship between the waste disposal behavior of communities and the amount or volume of waste produced. You can make a comparison between informal and formal settler waste disposal behavior in terms of the waste they generate.

Please, I need assistance with a theoretical or conceptual framework on the topic: The expectations and experiences of nursing students on the use of the online medium of education during the Covid-19 pandemic

Dear Captain, your intended study sound like a qualitative one. You can create constructs for the items you would want to study.

Assessing the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a storage information tool in estate management:

How do i come up with a conceptual framework. What would be variables??

Dear Mbuso, Why will you assess the GIS use in estate management? What is it for?

My topic is; Mitigating against Childmaltreatment in earlychildhood through positive parenting: Chronicles of first time parents in XYZ City”

How do I come up with a conceptual framework? What would be variables?

Hello Phathi, Apparently, you are trying to relate parenting and child behavior?

My topic: E-commerce Platform for Agricultural and Construction Supplies with e-KYC Identification, Feed Page, and Products Bidding Will you please help me to make Conceptual Framework written with visual representation. thank you so much in advance.

Good day Jomar, I am not so clear about what you want to do. Can you write the objectives of your study? You can read about framing the research objectives here: https://simplyeducate.me/2020/03/15/research-objective/

our topic is Neutrophil and Lymphocyte Ratio as a Diagnostic Biomarker for Kidney Stones (experimental) How do I come up with a conceptual framework? What would be the variables?

My name is Jobson, my research topic is: The scope of Ugandan nurses and midwives in using the nursing process in the care of patients

I read the article how still struggling to come up with a conceptual framework, may you please assist, how should I go about as a new researcher my topic; INVESTIGATE THE DECISION TO TRANSFER NINE (9) FUNCTIONS OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT . Purpose: The purpose of this research is to review the delivery of EHS at the local government with a view to understanding the variation in performance and their causes. questions are: 1.2.1 What factors explain the performance variation in the delivery of EHS across municipalities? 1.2.2 How has devolution of the EH function aided or harmed the delivery of EHS?

Hello Mr. Siyabonga. I think what you want to find out is how environmental health services (EHS) performed at the local government level. In doing so, you need to have a set of indicators of successful transition. How is performance assessed? Once you already have a measure of success, then you need to define which variables in the local government have significantly influenced performance. After you have done so, then you can try to correlate local government characteristics and their performance.

I hope that helps.

Why is your ebook so expensive? Are there alternatives?

Hello Jesse, there are many free alternatives online if you are diligent enough in finding them. The reason I wrote this article is that in 2015, when I originally wrote it, I could not find an easy-to-understand explanation of the conceptual framework which will help my students. I also have a vague knowledge of the concept at that time, even with the available literature. Hence, I painstakingly gathered all materials I could from online and offline literature, synthesized them, and wrote about the concept in the simplest way I could without losing the essence. Now, I have seen many articles and even videos using the ideas I have rigorously prepared. If you find the tedious work I did irrelevant, then perhaps the ebook is expensive notwithstanding the many expenses on hosting, domain name, time and effort in maintaining the site that I incur in keeping this website online and make this ebook available to everyone.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply

Home » Feature » How to Make a Conceptual Framework (with Samples)

How to Make a Conceptual Framework (with Samples)

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about conceptual frameworks, from what they are to how to make your own. Whether you are a novice or an experienced researcher, this article is for you. And by the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of scientific literature and a better grasp of conceptual frameworks.

What is a conceptual framework?

Research is an academic activity that necessitates a significant amount of abstraction or the creation of concepts or ideas in your mind about everything in your surroundings. This activity immerses you in a variety of higher-order thinking processes such as interpretation, criticism, application, and creation at all levels. Research, as a result of mental conceptions and evaluated holistically, must appear understandable to those who are eager to study the research findings. Because of the cognitive character of this scholarly academic task known as research, you will need a specific scheme, thorough plan, or system to describe the components of the research, including the relationships of the research elements.

You must create a conceptual framework for your study if you want to explain the ins and outs of your research in a nutshell. A conceptual framework is a graphical representation of your conceptions or ideas about the fundamental structure or components of your research, as well as the interactions between these pieces. It is a graph or non-prose material, specifically a schematic diagram that depicts well-ordered research elements. A conceptual framework is a comprehensive overview or strategy that gives meaning to your research by providing a well-planned arrangement of the components of your investigation.

Conceptual frameworks, on the other hand, are not usually necessary to be published in scientific publications. Even the average person can make their own. True scientific and authoritative examples, on the other hand, are often found in scientific journals. Furthermore, conceptual frameworks are not created at random by academics. They perform extensive literature evaluations to support their conceptual frameworks, ultimately increasing conceptual framework legitimacy.

Purposes of a Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework illustrates the organization, sequence, and purpose of your research. It is a crucial first step in your research because a schematic diagram, which is also discussed vocally, enables readers to have a general understanding of your work. It describes the research activities you want to conduct, the manner in which you intend to conduct these activities, and the knowledge you possess to demonstrate your expertise with your study topic or research challenge. In a research study, it also serves the goal of illustrating the concepts and their interrelationship.

How to Make a Conceptual Framework?

Before you prepare your conceptual framework, you need to do the following things:

1. Choose your topic

As a researcher, you have the option of focusing on a wide range of topics. However, we must remember that not all of the world’s resources are available to us. The research could also be time-limited. It is therefore important to select a topic that can be completed within the time and resources available.

2. Make your research question

The research question, on the other hand, must be narrowly focused. All of the specifics must be laid out in a clear and concise manner. To put it simply, this is where your conceptual framework comes into play. For your research, you need to come up with a clear and reasonable question. This question should be one you’re really interested in to have a concise conceptual framework.

An important part of your conceptual framework and research is the development of a question that will guide your investigation. As a result, you won’t get lost while writing the paper.

3. Conduct a review of the literature

A review of literature is a process in which a researcher examines previously published work on a particular subject from reputable sources. You and your readers will benefit from a literature review if it reveals the current state of knowledge on your chosen topic, including its strengths and weaknesses. When conducting a literature review, keep in mind that it should be relevant to the topic under consideration, synthesize the findings of the publications you have read, and identify any areas in which additional information or evidence is needed to support the claim under consideration. Having a review of the literature narrows down what you will be putting in your conceptual framework.

4. Choose your variables

Since you have done your research, by this time, you will already be able to identify and pinpoint the variable that has been discussed in the publications you have studied and try to make a connection or decipher how they are linked. As you must have already read a lot of literature, you will find many possible variables to choose from when conducting your study. However, when creating research in general, it is vital that you only select the essential variables as not all of them will be significant; as you must have read much scientific literature, you should be able to discern the important ones by this point. And when creating a conceptual framework in particular, even though you can choose all the variables in the world, it would be best not to since too many variables in a conceptual framework will be confusing. It is also not a good idea to choose too few variables, or else your study might be too simple. As mentioned in the previous step, you have to find the right level of intricacy in your research that will fit your resources and time allocation.

5. Choose your relationships

Now that you have chosen your variables, you have to decide how these variables are related to one another. Given that you have already read much literature on your topic, you should already define how each of your variables is connected. This is especially important to note as this will largely impact how your conceptual framework will look once you start making the diagram.

6. Create the conceptual framework

Now that you have achieved all the previous steps, the final step is to illustrate the diagram. How you demonstrate the diagram will differ on a case-to-case basis. Still, variable names have to be laid out clearly and put into rectangles, variables have to be connected with lines and arrows, and the arrowheads will differ depending on the nature of the relationships. Single-head arrows are for one-directional relationships (i.e. A affects B and B does not affect A), and double-headed arrows are for relationships that are 2-directional (i.e. A affects B and B also affects A). Also, lines do not have to be limited to connecting only 2 variables (i.e. A and B); some relationships can be between more variables (i.e. A affects B and also C).

Tips for Writing a Conceptual Framework

  • Familiarize yourself with the objective of the conceptual framework.
  • Create the conceptual framework based on your own knowledge of the components and their interrelationships.
  • Make sure that everything in the conceptual framework relates back to the study’s stated goals.
  • Share your conceptual framework with others to solicit feedback and suggestions for development.

Conceptual Framework Examples

To have a clearer idea of the process of making a conceptual framework, let us try to make concrete examples of it.

Background:  I am a co-owner of a branch of Burger King.

I am interested to know what affects the satisfaction of our customers. My goal is to know what specific parts of our business can influence our customers’ experience.

The research question I can formulate is “What affects customer satisfaction of Burger King?

I read up on different publications related to food establishments, specifically burger joints, and customer satisfaction. From here, I can already have an idea of the variables I can pinpoint from those publications that have been proven to affect customer satisfaction.

With all the books, scholarly articles, and research I have gone through, it can be determined that there are three main variables: food taste, speed of service, and staff performance. Customers are very much concerned with the taste of the product. The amount of time it takes to serve them also affects how pleased or displeased they are. Lastly, the performance of the staff that serves also affects their experience.

I was able to determine that the three variables: food taste, speed of service, and staff performance, are determining factors of customer satisfaction.

conceptual framework sample

Research Problem of Topic : “Improving Critical Thinking through Systemic Functional Grammar”

Systemic Functional Grammar or SFG is a modern language theory that states that man’s critical thinking increases whenever he uses language for these reasons: first, for ideational function or for knowledge acquisition; second, for interpersonal function or creating human relationships, and third, for textual functions or for strategic and coherent expression of ideas, In this case, the independent variables are the SFG components (ideational, interpersonal, and textual functions) and the dependent variable is critical thinking. Here is the conceptual framework to present the concepts underlying this study. (Ravich & Riggan 2012)

conceptual framework sample 2

Conceptual Framework vs Theoretical Framework

The conceptual framework shows and illustrates all of your plans, concepts, or ideas regarding the various aspects of your research both graphically and verbally. However, the conceptual framework does not fully and completely explain all of the study’s elements, both concrete and abstract, when seen in such a broad or numerous manner. The theoretical framework, which is a separate section of your research paper, provides and discusses the theories, principles, generalizations, and research findings that are related to your research topic.

The conceptual framework gives readers a clear mental image of the fundamental organization of the study, the relationships between variables, and other relevant facts. Theoretical framework, on the other hand, helps individuals comprehend the relationships between the many research elements and the evidence-based truths, concepts, theories, and assumptions that support each part of the study.

The ability to think clearly and accurately about the many different aspects of your study is facilitated by having a thorough understanding of the theoretical principles governing or controlling those things. As a result, you have a better understanding of both the central issues in your research as well as its other elements. The theoretical framework provides the theoretical underpinnings of the research, while the conceptual framework provides a general sketch of how the research will be conducted using theories, principles, or generalizations that have been supported by facts and logical reasoning.


how do I create a conceptual framework for Logistics management performance and customer service satisfaction


After 1000’s of search trying to understand conceptual frame, your explanations made it so easy for me. Thank you for this useful work put together

Yaregal B.

thank you for providing such important idea and now i would like to ask one question let my research paper has five chapters so in which chapter will I include my conceptual framework?


Interesting reading


Very useful explanation. Got a point


  1. The conceptual framework or theoretical framework describes and depicts

    how to make a conceptual framework for research paper

  2. Developing a Conceptual Framework for Research (Sample)

    how to make a conceptual framework for research paper

  3. The Conceptual Framework of the Research.

    how to make a conceptual framework for research paper

  4. Conceptual Framework of the research

    how to make a conceptual framework for research paper

  5. Developing a conceptual framework

    how to make a conceptual framework for research paper

  6. The conceptual framework of the research

    how to make a conceptual framework for research paper


  1. Basic Forms of Conceptual Framework

  2. Research Methodology Part I simple concepts

  3. @ Type of Research and Research Design

  4. Research Methodology

  5. Lecture 4 of Conceptual Framework

  6. Research Methodology


  1. How Do I Write a Conceptual Framework?

    A conceptual framework is typically written as a diagram or flowchart.

  2. What Is a Conceptual Definition in Research?

    A conceptual definition is the underlying understanding of something that is necessary to attain before understanding how it is used or applied. In science, it is necessary to understand the subject of research prior to conducting effective...

  3. What Is Theoretical Framework?

    According to the University of Southern California’s Library Guide, a theoretical framework is the research from previous literature that defines a study’s core theory and concepts. In social science research, previous research serves as th...

  4. What Is a Conceptual Framework?

    Developing a conceptual framework in research · Step 1: Choose your research question · Step 2: Select your independent and dependent variables

  5. Conceptual Framework

    Conceptual Framework Research ... A conceptual framework is a synthetization of interrelated components and variables which help in solving a real

  6. How to Make a Conceptual Framework (With Benefits)

    1. Select a topic · 2. Create a research question · 3. Review the available literature · 4. Identify the variables · 5. Outline the relationships · 6

  7. How to Develop a Conceptual Framework

    A conceptual framework illustrates what you expect to find through your research. It defines the relevant variables for your study and maps

  8. how to make a conceptual framework in research l What ...

    How to Make a Conceptual Framework l Constructing a conceptual framework l step by step guide Choose your topic. Decide on what will be your

  9. How to make a conceptual framework

    1. Clarity and coherence: The framework should be clear, concise, and well-organized, with a logical flow of ideas and concepts. · 2. Relevance and significance:

  10. Building a Conceptual Framework: Philosophy, Definitions, and

    Conceptual frameworks are indeterminist in nature and therefore do not enable us to predict an outcome. Levering (2002) has suggested that “the idea that human

  11. How to Make a Conceptual Framework (With Examples)

    Steps to Developing the Perfect Conceptual Framework · Pick a question · Conduct a literature review · Identify your variables · Create your

  12. Conceptual Framework: 4 Step-by-Step Procedure That Works

    The conceptual framework is the researcher's understanding of how the particular variables in the study connect. Thus, it identifies the

  13. How to write a conceptual framework : r/research

    Okay, that's an interesting framework. Basically the narrative can start by you briefly describing the independent and dependent variables

  14. How to Make a Conceptual Framework (with Samples)

    The conceptual framework illustrates the organization, sequence, and purpose of your research. It is a crucial first step in your research