Conceptual framework

Conceptual framework

A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to an idea or thought. For example, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin used the "hedgehogs" versus "foxes" approach;[1] a "hedgehog" might approach the world in terms of a single organizing principle; a "fox" might pursue multiple conflicting goals simultaneously. Alternatively, an empiricist might approach a subject by direct examination, whereas an intuitionist might simply intuit what's next.[2]

Conceptual frameworks (theoretical frameworks) are a type of intermediate theory that attempt to connect to all aspects of inquiry (e.g., problem definition, purpose, literature review, methodology, data collection and analysis). Conceptual frameworks can act like maps that give coherence to empirical inquiry. Because conceptual frameworks are potentially so close to empirical inquiry, they take different forms depending upon the research question or problem.

Several types of conceptual frameworks have been identified,[3][4] such as

  • Working hypothesis
  • Descriptive Categories
  • Practical ideal types
  • Models of operations research
  • Formal hypotheses

These are linked to particular research purposes such as:[5]

Proponents claim that when purpose and framework are aligned, other aspects of empirical research such as methodological choices and statistical techniques become simpler to identify.

See also


  1. ^ Michiko Kakutani (Tuesday, April 28, 2009) p. C1, "The Ert of Adapting Quickly", The New York Times
  2. ^ Charles McGrath (Tuesday, April 28, 2009) p. C1, "Coming of Age in Sag Harbor, Amid Privilege and Paradox", The New York Times
  3. ^ Patricia M. Shields and Hassan Tajalli (2006), "Intermediate Theory: The Missing Link in Successful Student Scholarship," Journal of Public Affairs Education 12(3): 313-334.
  4. ^ Patricia M. Shields (1998). "Pragmatism as a Philosophy of Science:A Tool for Public Administration," Research in Public Administration. Volume 4: 195-225.
  5. ^ For examples of applied research that use these conceptual frameworks to organize empirical inquiry see the Applied Research Projects at Texas State University - San Marcos.

Further reading

  • Kaplan, Abraham. (1964). The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science. Scranton, PA: Chandler Publishing Co.
  • Botha, M.E. (1989), "Theory Development in Perspective: The Role of Conceptual Frameworks and Models in Theory Development", Journal of Advanced Nursing 14(1), 49–55.
  • Dewey, John. (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Hold Rinehart and Winston.

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