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 researcher
sees the different concepts and outcomes
of study and its relations with each other.
• It can be developed from the researcher's
personal experience, previous studies, or
from 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
(Miles and Huberman, 1994, P18)
• A CF provides a coherent, unified and orderly
way of seeing related events or processes
relevant to a study/ research and less formal than
• It can be :
• Rudimentary or elaborate,
• Theory driven or commonsensical ,
• Descriptive or casual (Miles, and Huberman cited
• It broadly presents understanding of the
phenomenon of interest and reflects the
assumptions and philosophic view of the
• It is researcher‟s own position on the
problem- the way the researcher shapes it
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 emphasizes
different aspects of a problem or research
• Any one conceptual framework presents
only a partial view of reality.
• Focuses attention on and amplify certain
elements of a problem like a magnifying
• Conceptual Framework
• Keeps research on track
• Provides clear links from the literature to the
research goals and questions
• Helps the researcher to see clearly the variables
of the study
• Clarifies concepts and propose relationships
• Provides an organizing structure for the
research design and methods.
• Useful to prepare research proposal using
experimental or descriptive methods
• Guides the development and testing of
interventions and hypotheses
• Provides general framework for data
• The interpretation of findings flows from
the conceptualization represented by the
• Makes research findings meaningful and
• 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
• 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
• Process of describing and naming a previously
Eg:- Selye performed concept synthesis to
identify and define the concept stress.
• Meanings are derived from other disciplines
may be modified and carefully evaluated to fit
in the nursing knowledge
• A strategy through a set of characteristics
essential to the connotative meaning of a
concept is identified.
• A strategy that involves examining the
attributes 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
Walker & Avant
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
? Relational statement- declares that a
relationship of some kind exists between
two or more concepts. (Walker & Avant
Importance of relational
• Core of frame work
• Relational statement are tested through
• 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.
* Probability of occurrence
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?
2. Identify the
3. Define 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 abstract
intangible 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 after
operationalising the concept.
• Numerical pain scale to measure the pain
• Depression scale to measure depression etc
• Empirical referents is a means of
measurement of concepts
• State the relation between concepts
• 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
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
– 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 one
another‟s work; thereby building a body
understanding over time and this moves a
discipline (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))
CF for infant/child pain
Infant and child
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
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?
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An Expanded Sourcebook” (2nd edition). Beverley Hills, Sage.
Rogers, E.M. (2003): “Diffusion of Innovations.” 5 th 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.” (2 nd
edition) California, Sage.