How to support Research with Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks


In the comments of one of my quantitative
research videos I was asked: “how do you support your study relationship based on a
theoretical or conceptual framework?” That is a great question! There has been a large
push from academic institutions and journals in recent years for the explicit use of these
frameworks in research studies. Theoretical or conceptual frameworks are used
to support research in many ways. More than one framework may even be useful in your research.
How they guide the development of a research study depends on your question and research
design. Sometimes you need to know your theory before you begin your study and other times
it makes more sense to select it after data collection. I always tell my students that the research
question should drive all of the decisions in a study. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes
your question actually comes from the theoretical framework. If your research is about testing, confirming,
refuting, expanding on, refining or adding to an existing theory then you need to be
sure you know what it is before the study begins and I would explain that theory in
the literature review section of your paper. When you get to the results section of that
paper it would likely make sense to organise your results in the same way the theory is
organised. In the discussion section you can then examine how your results and other literature
either support or refute the theory. Sometimes you will not set out to discuss
a particular theory. A theoretical or conceptual framework will still be useful to support
your question or organise your findings. When using a theory to support your question
the theory needs to relate to the reason why you are doing the study. In Killam and Heerschap
(2012) we used a theory about force field analysis to justify examining student perceptions
of challenges to their learning in the clinical setting. Basically, the theory talks about
how change occurs when positive forces outweigh negative ones. Therefore, if educators want
students to be safe we need to remove barriers to students practicing safely. In order to
remove these barriers we need to know what they are. And there you have how the theory
supported the reason for asking the question. Quite honestly we added this theory in after
the study was completed because the journal required that we have one. Our selected methodology,
however, supported conducting the study without a theoretical frame up-front. We developed
our own model to explain the findings. The theory did work well with discussion section
that had already been written for the paper. I have done a few qualitative studies where
I wanted to examine a topic broadly and have subsequently found a theory that helped me
organise and explain the findings. For example, in Killam and Carter (2010) the Ecological
model was used to organise the findings of a literature review about challenges that
student nurses face while on clinical placement in rural settings. We did not select the Ecological
Model as a lens until after the review was completed and we were in the process of analysing
the data. You can look at this article for free by clicking on the link below this video.
Notice that the Ecological Model is introduced in the literature review, used in the findings
section to organise the collected data and again in the discussion. Originally we had
used all the headings from the model in the discussion section but due to space limitations
we had to condense it. When writing it up we did link the selection of the framework
to the question. You will find that if you select the right framework the question and
findings will fit nicely with it and the entire paper will flow nicely, making a high quality
product. If your research is designed to generate a
new theory it would make sense that you don’t know what it is before you begin. If so, you
will want to explain the concepts you are examining in the literature review. In your
findings you would then build the case for your theory based on your study data. Then
in the discussion you would talk about how pre-existing literature also supports your
theory. Another use for theory is to explain the culture
of the group being studied or the worldview of the researcher. In qualitative studies
it is useful to know these things when assessing the quality and transferability of the study.
Sometimes studies will present a conceptual framework, which may include discussion of
multiple views of a particular concept like in Killam et al. (2012). The entire paper
still flows because it is about one topic but there is no clear pre-existing theory
supporting the entire paper. What other ways have you seen theoretical
or conceptual frameworks used to support study relationships?
Do you think journals should require a theoretical framework in publications? Why or why not?
Please share your views below. Thank you for watching. Be sure to subscribe
if you want to be up to date with new videos as they are released.
Feel free to ask me any questions that you have below and I will do my best to answer
them. Videos are posed on Thursdays as often as I can. Right now I have a baby at home
so they are not coming out weekly but hopefully in about February of 2014 they will start
coming out weekly again. Thank you!

74 Replies to “How to support Research with Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks

  1. Thanks for your video pertained to explanation of conceptual framework. 
    I have the question below:
    How can we derive DV, IV and hypotheses from conceptual model?
    I'll be very grateful to you for answering this question with examples.

  2. I have loved it. I will need more help though as am a starter in research. I still need help with understanding how to find the right theoretical framework for your research. I have absolutely enjoyed and learnt something from this one. Henry, Kampala-Uganda

  3. Very informative video. Is it possible for you to do a video and how to build a construct from data collected. For example, building a construct personal factors from age, gender, self efficacy, etc.

  4. Hi! I would like to have a example of Theoretical Framework so I could have it as a guide. Is there a chance so you can please provide me one? Im desperate!!!  Thanks!

  5. hi killam , thanks for your nice presentation , I have a question for you what are the steps do I need to follow to show  how the theoretical framework  may have guided intervention study design , thanks

  6. No, No, No ….. Theory holding me back. Yes some of them are useful but they mostly outdated. Unfortunately the majority of journals are requesting a theory sound ;(

  7. How do you identify the theoretical or conceptual framework? If there is no literature review would it be in the introduction section? So the frameworks are basically what made the researchers try the study out? Or what model or certain method help backs up their study and thats what the base is? What if it's hard to find? Then what?

  8. Very helpful for explaining the balance between utilizing or extending an existing theoretical framework and developing a new one.

  9. Hi Laura, thank you for an excellent presentation! Thanks to your video, I understand the premise of why a framework is important to the organization of my PICO (prognosis/prediction type -question) which provides the central theme for my topic paper … but I"m still not clear about where to find the "just right" model that best fits my question type. Any light that you could shed on this question would be greatly appreciated!

  10. Now I start writing one of my research articles, but I didn't know how to link the hypotheses with the research results to generate a theoretical framework.

  11. I think in order to formulate a theoretical framework I have to formulate the research objectives and link them to the research questions. To answer the research questions, I have to formulate hypotheses that help support each component of the theoretical framework. Am I right?

  12. Very good but not for the new researcher, which is what I am. So I had to stop, reread, and rewatch. Thanks a lot

  13. Kudos to your ability to distill complex topics into short videos! I am puzzled as to what constitutes a research guided by a theoretical framework. If I expand on an existing theory by modelling the relationship between variables slightly different, is that already synonymous with inductive theory building and therefore in need of a conceptual framework, or is it still deductive because much of it is borrowed from existing theories? Second question: Is there a need to conceptualize the variables/explain the concepts used in a research guided by a theoretical framework? Sorry for the large question, I'd be glad if you could help out

  14. I am so confused and lost as I'm a new researcher. My study is based on why students are not adapting to searching information and library resources independently. I conceptual framework to be used for this framework… this is where I am lost, please assist.

  15. i have a question, if im writing a paper and my hypothesis may be " decreasing obsessive compulsive behaviors in patients with mental disabilities will lower fall risk and future injury", what type of framework would i have? (ways to decrease these behaviours? etc…

  16. I'm doing a study on how Jamaica can be promoted as a sport tourism destination. what frame work or theory would i use?

  17. Hi NurseKillam and thanks for presentation
    i am doing a theoretical research and the title is : the impact of offshoring in innovation system
    what framework can i use for that ?

  18. I want to evaluate the framework of a public private partnership in waste management, could you advice on any theory

  19. I have selected a problem statment ie
    a study to evaluate the effectiveness of poly cystic ovarian syndrome computer application on the knoledge and attitude of polycystic ovarian syndrome among adolacent girls of selected colleges

    but i am not able to figure out what conceptual framework or theory should be taken can u help me

  20. I am currently working on my Doctorate degree at Old Dominion University. I found these videos to be very helpful in understanding concepts and theories. Thank you!

  21. How do independent variables contribute towards the formulation of theory of the study? Must they be considered

  22. I am writing a research proposal on workarounds nurses use in barcode administration. What would be a great theoretical or conceptual basis for my research?

  23. Hi nurse.Killam I wish to know is hypothesis different 4rm conceptual framework? Please for some highlights.. Thanks

  24. nice work .I am working on a paper mobile money and i have to do the theoretical frame work which i dont even knw what that is haha

  25. Hi Maam Laura Killam. Thank you very much for this video. Great and helpful. I now understand about why do I need to make these frameworks for my study. However, I am still puzzled what theory to use in my study. Where can I find one? I am studying the effects of DOTA addiction to students' academic performance.

  26. thank you for the very informative lecture, it is very helpful. but may I add a question.
    What is the difference between theory assumption and theory proposition?
    Can a theory proposition be anchored in an overall result of the study in theory testing in a different concept?
    thank you.

  27. You mentioned that research is about testing, confirming, refuting, expanding on, refining or adding, so for such researches do we have to mention research problem or problem statement? Will it be my starting point? If it is then, does the type of research (testing, confirming, refuting, expanding on, refining or adding) depend on my research problem?

  28. plz help me T.T the title of my study is Classroom Environment and the interst of SHS Engineering aspirant students in enrolling.can you give me a guide about the theoritical framework and conceptual also T.T

  29. Thank you, this was useful. but i still need more details about conceptual framework of research about effective solid waste management.

  30. I am currently working on a research about the effects of insufficient learning materials to the academic performance of the students. And i found myself lost after encountering the theories and frameworks

  31. In my research i must related the story line with theory of research
    Any suggestions storyline for food n topic ? Because i lost to get the topic about food,my lecturer want the topic have the problem to solve.. pls give me some advise or opinions

  32. Hi, I need help. my research is about the effectiveness of having backup recovery files. How can I write a Theoretical/Conceptual framework?

  33. Can you do a video on evaluation of theories.. I'm struggling to find how Ann Whall defines the criteria she uses to analyze theories

  34. What is theoretical or conceptual framework? How do I find the literature review in an article when It doesn't say literature reviews? Please help!

  35. an approach can also be utilised in the stead of theory? for eg. when i do research on tribal livelihood there is an approach of five models approach. will this be okay to substantiate?

  36. I have read that conceptual framework is based on that, that the researcher is refering to multiple literature, whereas when using a theoretical framework, the literature is only one. In contrast, you are saying that when using a conceptual framework one is doing an inductive approach, as there is no literature on it. I am confused…when using multiple literature this only has to do with the data triangulation but it shoudl not define if I should use either theoretical or conceptual framework

  37. This is the problem with most of such videos where video maker/prof etc does not respond to the questions and left the viewers confused.

  38. Great video and very clearMy topic is on identity theft by a family member. My question is Why family victims refuse to prosecute the member of the family who stole there Identity?  Either I'm looking in the wrong areas because cannot find much information on the question.  Also I am having a hard time narrowing down the appropriate topic.  I am so frustrated and so ready to give up.  Why is this so hard?Rochelle

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