A Conceptual framework not only ensures that you remain on track throughout the research process, but it also guides the mentor while analyzing your thesis. It represents a system of concepts, assumptions, and expectations. It lies within the theoretical framework and represents the researcher’s synthesis of literature which helps to map out the study required in course of action.
Now the question is how to develop a structured yet comprehendible conceptual framework. To develop a conceptual framework, one requires prerequisites such as knowledge in theories, findings of previous research, the ability of inductive reasoning and establish a gap between the two studies.
Why generate a conceptual framework at all?
Firstly, researchers are more likely to have their research as accepted ‘quality research’. Next, the use of a framework suggests the researchers understand what they are studying and finally, the use of the conceptual framework provides a body of evidence.
To develop a conceptual framework,
Choose the research topic-
A topic plays a vital role in the research process. Choose the topic within your domain and an interesting research topic.
Conduct a literature review-
Before conducting research, assure your research topic has not been worked on. Conduct a literature review and refine the hypothesis. Review relevant and updated sources pertaining to the topic you have decided to work on. Preferably make use of peer-reviewed and popular scientific journals as they contain reliable sources of information.
Create a flow chart-
Conceptual frameworks are often visual in nature. Present the data in a flow chart, mind map or diagram. For each component of the research, it is advisable to represent the variables that influence it.
Isolate the important variables-
Identify the specific variables described in the literature and figure out how they are related to your study. If the variables are not explicit in the executive summary, quickly identify the variables of the study and its significant findings.
Write a narrative
Not all conceptual frameworks include a diagram or graphic. Present the same information by writing a narrative. The narrative should summarize the variables influencing the research and how they impact the hypothesis. The narrative should also explain the basic methodology for the research. Also, it is advisable to use bolded headers to separate the sections of the narrative.
Identify and cluster the factors
Identify the factors which have emerged through open-coding and cluster the factors with common themes into similar categories.
On discovering new variables, you may find that your hypothesis is incorrect. Return to the framework and revise if necessary.
Generate the conceptual framework
Problem statement serves as a reference in constructing the conceptual framework. Build the conceptual framework using your mix of the variables from the scientific articles.