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How to Make a Conceptual Framework

By Patrick Regoniel
Thesis writing or research requires a good understanding of the topic being investigated. For this
reason, a conceptual framework needs to be drawn up to guide the direction of the investigation.
How is a conceptual framework arrived at? This article explains and presents a simplified
example on how to make a conceptual framework which college students will find helpful in their
quest for new knowledge.
Research or thesis writing is a logical process whereby new information can be
generated. In carrying out research, one of the fundamental requirements is to be able to
define clearly the direction of the study. If the issues are not clear in the researcher's
mind, it is easy to wander away from what needs to be investigated.
This is where the idea of putting things into focus comes into play, i. e., the building of a
conceptual framework. The conceptual framework works like a map that sets the
direction of research or thesis writing.
How to Make a Conceptual Framework
Coming up with a conceptual framework requires reading and understanding theories
that explain relationships between things. A comprehensive understanding of the
research issue, therefore, can be achieved through an exhaustive review of literature.
Since research or thesis writing involves the explanation of complex phenomena, there
is a need to simplify or reduce the complexity of the phenomena into measurable items
called variables. Only a portion of the phenomena can be explained at a time.
Example of Conceptual Framework
A researcher might want to test Lamarck's Theory of Use and Disuse. Basically the
theory says that whatever characteristic the organism acquires during its lifetime, this
can be passed on to its offspring. And this trait is strengthened or developed with
constant use during its lifetime. Otherwise, the trait is lost.
The classic example used to illustrate this theory is the long neck of giraffes. Giraffes
stretch their necks to reach the leaves of tall, flat topped trees in the savanna. If they
don't stretch their necks, then their necks would be shorter. And these traits will be
passed on to its offspring.
Two variables in this case may be used. These are the length of necks of giraffes and
their habitat - a place where they can stretch their necks to feed and a place where they
need not do so.
The conceptual framework may be illustrated thus:

Independent and Dependent Variables

For any phenomenon, the independent variable is the cause while the dependent
variable is the outcome. In the example above, the independent variable is the type of
habitat while the dependent variable is the length of the giraffe's neck. Using a diagram
to embody the conceptual framework, it is now easy to figure out what needs to be
done to find out if indeed the opportunities presented in the giraffe's habitat have
something to do with the length of its neck. The researcher can measure the giraffe's
neck in two different habitats.
The investigation, of course, does not stop here because the researcher has also to find
out if the trait of the giraffe developed in its lifetime will be passed on to its offspring.
Will the offspring have a long neck, probably longer and stronger than its parent?
What the conceptual framework really does is to pin down the theory into something
that the researcher can objectively measure. This will help him test the validity of the
claim, that is, the theory which arose from insights derived by a senior scientist from
observations or previous findings.