DEVELOPING CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The structure of the
What is conceptual frame work?
What are the purposes of conceptual
What are ingredients of a conceptual
The structure of the
What are the steps in Developing a conceptual
How will you present a conceptual framework?
What are the pros and cons of conceptual
• Conceptual framework represent ways of
thinking about a problem.
• It deals with abstractions ( concepts) that
are assembled by virtue of relevance to a
• CF is an explanation of how a researchersees the different concepts and outcomesof study and its relations with each other.
• It can be developed from the researcher'spersonal experience, previous studies, orfrom more than one theory or models
A written or visual presentation that:
“explains either graphically, or by narration,
the main things to be studied – the key
factors, concepts or variables - and the
presumed relationship among them”.
(Miles and Huberman, 1994, P18)
• A CF provides a coherent, unified and orderlyway of seeing related events or processesrelevant to a study/ research and less formal thantheories.
• It can be :
• Rudimentary or elaborate,
• Theory driven or commonsensical ,
• Descriptive or casual (Miles, and Huberman cited
• It broadly presents understanding of thephenomenon of interest and reflects theassumptions and philosophic view of thedesigner
• It is researcher‟s own position on theproblem- the way the researcher shapes ittogether.
What it does?
• Conceptual frameworks serve as the springboard for theory development
• CF shows the relationship of the stated
hypotheses with central factors or key
• Part of CF offers a synopsis of the study's
What it does??
• Each framework highlights or emphasizesdifferent aspects of a problem or researchquestion.
• Any one conceptual framework presentsonly a partial view of reality.
• Focuses attention on and amplify certainelements of a problem like a magnifyingglass
• Conceptual Framework
• Keeps research on track
• Provides clear links from the literature to theresearch goals and questions
• Helps the researcher to see clearly the variablesof the study
• Clarifies concepts and propose relationshipsamong concepts
• Provides an organizing structure for theresearch design and methods.
• Useful to prepare research proposal usingexperimental or descriptive methods
• Guides the development and testing of interventions and hypotheses
• Provides general framework for dataanalysis
• The interpretation of findings flows fromthe conceptualization represented by theframework
• Makes research findings meaningful andgeneralizable
• Provides reference points for discussion of the methodology and analysis of the data.
• Explains observations
• Contributes to the trustworthiness of the study.
• Encourages theory development that is useful to practice
• A conceptual framework is composed of concepts and
the relational linkages between them ( called
• Concepts abstractly describes and names an object or
phenomenon, thus providing it with separate identity or
• It is actually the intellectual representation of some
aspect of reality, derived from observations made from
• Example: Anxiety, stress or pain
Conceptual definition Concept derivation
• Process of describing and naming a previouslyunrecognized concept
Eg:- Selye performed concept synthesis toidentify and define the concept stress.
• Meanings are derived from other disciplinesmay be modified and carefully evaluated to fitin the nursing knowledge
• A strategy through a set of characteristicsessential to the connotative meaning of aconcept is identified.
• A strategy that involves examining theattributes \ characteristics of a concept.
(Walker & Avant 1983)
A philosophical inquiry –
Researcher explores various ways the term is used and try to identify set of characteristics that can be used to describe the concept.
By × search of literature
× personal experience
and thought Walker & Avant
× Reasoning 1985.
Types of concepts
• Three types of concepts
According to level of abstraction:
1. Abstract concepts or theoretical concepts
2. Empirical or descriptive concepts
According to level of categorization:
1. Global or domain concepts
2. Middle range concepts
3. Empirical concepts
• According to levels of measurements
• 1. Nominal
• 2. Ordinal
• 3. Interval
• 4. Ratio
• Concepts are important because they
provide a road map
• Give the big picture ideas (the concepts)
up front, and then fit in the smaller facts
• Provide the context for the researcher
Next steps is to state Relations with concepts.
? Relational statement- declares that arelationship of some kind exists betweentwo or more concepts. (Walker & Avant1980)
Importance of relational
• Core of frame work
• Relational statement are tested through research.
• Relational statements determines the
- Research questions and hypothesis
- Research design
- Statistical analysis
- Type of findings expected.
N.B: For critiquing a study too the link between the hypothesis, design and frame work are examined.
* Direction * Sequencing
* Shape * Probability of occurrence
* Strength * Necessity
* Symmetry * Sufficiency
Depicted with diagrams or by literary means.
What inputs go into
developing a conceptual
• Experiential knowledge of researcher and supervisor
– Literature review
– Technical knowledge.
– Research background.
– Personal experience.
– Data (particularly for qualitative).
How might a conceptual
framework be developed?
1. Explore/ explain
relationship between concepts
2. Identify the concept
3. Define concepts
4. Operationalise concepts
• Identify the concept and categorize them
• It can be abstract or concrete.
• For an abstract concept it is broad and may not be
readily observable and the meaning of which are
more far from time, space and referent group and is
not easily measurable
• Specific or concrete concepts are amenable to
• This is the main function of a conceptual
framework in descriptive study/ research
• Quality of life
• Accessibility of care
• Regular users
• Visitor demand
• In other words, how can abstractintangible concepts be made tangible
• How can concepts like
• Local etc be recognized , assessed,measured or counted
• Empirical referents or indicators must be find
• out to depict the existence of concepts afteroperationalising the concept.
• Numerical pain scale to measure the painintensity
• Depression scale to measure depression etc
• Empirical referents is a means ofmeasurement of concepts
• State the relation between concepts
• This provides idea for testing and
• Hypothesis are developed from these
propositional statements of a conceptual
In nut shell
Develop the structure by:
• Identifying the key words used in the subject area of the study.
• Draw out the key things within something that have already written
about the subject area – literature review.
• Take one key concept, idea or term at a time and brainstorm all the
other things that might be related and then go back and select those that
seem most relevant.
• It will take time and a number of iterations and the focus should be
both on the content and the inter-relationships.
General forms of CF
• Process frameworks– Set out the stages through which an action moves from initiation to
conclusion. These relate to the ‘how?’ question.
• Content frameworks
• Set out the variables, and possibly the relationship (with relative strengths) between them, that together answer the ‘why?’ question.
What specific forms might a conceptual framework take?
• The possibilities include:
– Flow charts.
– Tree diagrams.
– Shape based diagrams – triangles, concentric circles,
– Mind maps.
– Soft systems.
The pros and cons of conceptual
• Why are conceptual frameworks useful?• Conceptual frameworks provide researchers with:
– The ability to move beyond descriptions of „what‟ to explanations of „why‟ and „how‟.
– A means of setting out an explanation set that might be used to define and make sense of the data that flow from the research question.
– A filtering tool for selecting appropriate research questions and related data collection methods.
– A reference point/structure for the discussion of the literature, methodology and results.
– The boundaries of the work.
The pros and cons of conceptual
• Allow researchers to build upon oneanother‟s work; thereby building a bodyof knowledge
• Programmatic, conceptually basedresearch that accumulate deeperunderstanding over time and this moves adiscipline (such as nursing) forward.
What are the cons/ limitations
• Conceptual framework:
– Is influenced by the experience and knowledge of the individual – initial bias.
– Once developed will influence the researcher‟s thinking and may result in some things being given prominence and others being ignored – ongoing bias.
• The solution is to revisit the conceptual framework, particularly at the end when evaluating your work.
Criteria to evaluate conceptual
• Comprehensiveness of content
• logical congruence
• conceptual clarity
• level of abstraction
• clinical utility (Fawcett's (1995))
Infant and child
CF for infant/child pain parent coping
• The conceptual framework encapsulates the research as it:
– Sets out the focus and content.
– Acts as the link between the literature, the methodology and the results
• Thus it can be/will be the focus/starting point of the evaluation of originality of a research to find
– Whether what has been focussed on entirely new?
– Is the way the subject been investigated different to the „normal‟
– Has new light been shed on previously explored issues?
• Hart C. (1998): Doing a Literature Review.” London, Sage.
• Jennings G. (2001): Tourism Research. Australia, John Wiley and Sons.
• Maslow A (1954): “Motivation and Personality.” New York: Harper.
• Miles, M. B., & Huberman, M. A. (1994): “Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook” (2nd edition). Beverley Hills, Sage.
• Rogers, E.M. (2003): “Diffusion of Innovations.” 5th Edition. London, Simon and Schuster.
• Smyth R. (2004): “Exploring the Usefulness of a Conceptual Framework as a Research Tool: A Researcher's Reflections.” Issues In Educational Research, Volume 14.
• Yin R. K. (1994): “Case Study Research: Design and Methods.” (2nd
edition) California, Sage.