definition of conceptual framework

The term conceptual framework is used basically in the field of scientific research. By conceptual framework is understood the general representation of all the information that is handled in the research process.

Different sections in any investigation

To carry out an investigation on something, it is necessary to handle certain basic concepts in an orderly fashion. In the first place, it starts with the statement of the problem that is going to be addressed. Next, the researcher must present his working hypothesis, that is, his proposal, the solution that seeks to explain the problem. From this point on, the methodology is presented (which can be based on the deductive, inductive or a combination of both). Next, a series of objective data that support the initial hypothesis is handled and the data obtained is put to the test (the moment of testing of the hypothesis). There are other sections that make up this complex process: the use of bibliography, background to the problem and theoretical foundations (the laws and theories involved in the research task), as well as some final results and conclusions. In this way, all these elements are intertwined and make up a general conceptual framework.

The conceptual framework is a graphic representation that is usually presented in the form of a tree or a diagram and that provides an overview of a given study. In other words, it is a work guide that allows you to understand the sections of an investigation and how they are related to each other.

Clarification of some related terms

There are a series of terms similar to the one we analyze here: theoretical map, frame of reference and conceptual map. It is worth trying to clarify these terms, as they can easily be confused.

Typically concept framework and concept map are used synonymously. If we speak of a theoretical framework, we refer to the scientific paradigm that encompasses a series of general laws and theories (for example, the theory of evolution is the general theoretical framework of most scientific explanations in the field of biology). Regarding the frame of reference, it refers to the set of information used by a researcher to carry out his research in a certain area.

The meaning of these terms so similar to each other is relevant because without an approximate definition of each of them the researcher cannot order knowledge in a coherent way. In conclusion, the term conceptual framework allows us to understand and locate the object of study, just as the frame of a painting is what allows us to understand a painting as a whole.

Photo: iStock - Imgorthand

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