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What is a conceptual framework in research

What Is Conceptual Framework in Research Proposal? Learn with Examples

What is a conceptual framework in research? Why is it important to have a conceptual framework in a research proposal? How do you prepare a conceptual framework? What is an example of a conceptual framework? Do you know the answers to these questions? As guessed, you do not have an idea about this important framework. 

A conceptual framework is an important framework which illustrates the expected relationship between your variables. If you are unable to prepare this framework in the right way, know that your proposal cannot win the hearts of the proposal approval committee. Considering this, today’s post is about the conceptual framework in research. Here, I will explain what this framework is with examples and try to answer all the questions given at the start of the article. So, let’s start with the definition. 

What is a conceptual framework in a research proposal? 

A conceptual framework in a research study illustrates the expected relationship between the research variables. It defines the relevant objectives for your research process that you have proposed in the research proposal. Along with this, this framework also maps out how those objectives come together to draw coherent conclusions. Thus, this framework defines the variables required in the research study to establish their relationship. All in all, you can say a conceptual framework is the researcher’s map in pursuing the proposed investigation. 

Why is it important to have a conceptual framework? 

Having a conceptual framework is important as far as a research proposal is concerned. The reason is that it explains the key concepts, variables, and the relationship between them in a good manner. In simple words, developing a conceptual framework is the way to organise ideas and achieve a research project’s purpose. Hence, all these things make it important to have a conceptual framework in research proposal. 

Example of a conceptual framework 

Let’s say that you have got a job in a failing restaurant. The restaurant customers are not happy and leave unsatisfied. This situation is damaging the reputation of the restaurant. As the restaurant owner has hired you as a manager, he asks you to analyse the situation and propose a solution so that the restaurant can thrive again. In order to do so, you need to explore the literature and develop a conceptual framework of the variables that you have found to boost the sales of the restaurant. So, after your research, you have developed the following conceptual framework to present to the owner. 

How do you develop a conceptual framework? 

After reading the information above, you have got a good idea of the conceptual framework in research and its importance. The example framework above must have strengthened your understanding. However, all these things are not enough to develop a conceptual framework in the research proposal. To develop a good framework, you need to have a grip on the techniques of doing so. Nevertheless, a brief description of the techniques to develop a conceptual framework is as follows: 

  1. Choose the research topic 

First things first, to develop a conceptual framework, you need to choose your research topic. It is the topic that you want to investigate in depth and propose a solution to if it is a problem-based topic. It is important to know that your research topic should be a depiction of your research interests. It should be focused on one subject and only discusses that subject. The reason is that choosing too broad topics can cause problems for you in the long run and during the research process. 

  1. Formulate good research questions 

The conceptual framework in research revolves around the research questions. It is because these questions tell you what you need to research and how you need to do it. They give you an idea of the research variables. Therefore, you must be able to formulate good research questions considering the demand of the research study. Good research questions give your research study a clear focus and allow you to move smoothly towards the end goal. 

  1. Do an extensive literature review 

Step no.3, in the development of a conceptual framework, asks you to perform an extensive review of the scholarly literature published in your proposed research area. This review of the literature does two things. First, it lets you know about the research gap present in the current literature. Secondly, it gives you an idea about the research variables around which your conceptual framework will revolve. Hence, perform an extensive literature review. 

  1. Identify the important variables 

In order to move forward with your conceptual framework in research, the next step is the identification of important research variables. It means you must identify the dependent and independent variables of the study. For example, you want to study whether students who study more hours get more scores in exams or who study less. In this example, “hours of study” is the independent variable, and the “exam scores” is the dependent variable. It is because exam scores depend on the hours of study. Hence, this is how you identify the variables. 

  1. Expand it by identifying other variables 

The relationship between independent and dependent variables gets affected by many external variables. The variables like a mediator, control, and moderator also affect the cause-and-effect relationship between them. 

  • The moderating variables alter the effect that the independent variable has on the dependent 
  • The mediating variables strengthen the relationship between independent and dependent variables and make the framework better 
  • Control variables are the variables that you keep constant throughout the study so that they cannot interfere with the results

Hence, these are the steps you need to consider when developing a conceptual framework for your research proposal. In case you are unable to develop it after reading this guideline, too, you should better get a research proposal help


Conclusively, I have discussed the five-step procedure to develop a conceptual framework in research proposal. Along with this, I have also discussed the importance of having this framework. The example given above shows how to develop this framework in your proposal. All in all, this article is a total guide for you, and you can learn all the things about conceptual frameworks by reading this. So, read it till the end and enjoy developing your framework. For more read interesting articles like this visit ted news!