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Research Writing and Analysis

This page contains information to support researchers with various research tools..

Designing the Theoretical Framework

What is it?
  • A foundational review of existing theories. 
  • Serves as a roadmap or blueprint for developing arguments and supporting research.
  • Overview of the theory that the research is based on.
  • Can be made up of theories, principles, and concepts.
What does it do?
  • Explains the why and how of a particular phenomenon within a particular body of literature.
  • Connects the research subject with the theory.
  • Specifies the study’s scope; makes it more valuable and generalizable.
  • Guides further actions like framing the research questions, developing the literature review, and data collection and analyses.
What should be in it?
  • Theory or theories that the researcher considers relevant for their research, principles, and concepts.

Theoretical Framework Guide

Making a Theoretical Framework

How to make a theoretical framework
  • Specify research objectives.
  • Note the prominent variables under the study.
  • Explore and review the literature through keywords identified as prominent variables.
  • Note the theories that contain these variables or the keywords.
  • Review all selected theories again in the light of the study’s objectives, and the key variables identified.
  • Search for alternative theoretical propositions in the literature that may challenge the ones already selected.
  • Ensure that the framework aligns with the study’s objectives, problem statement, the main research question, methodology, data analysis, and the expected conclusion.
  • Decide on the final framework and begin developing.

Example Framework

Additional Framework Resources

Some additional helpful resources in constructing a theoretical framework for study:


Theoretical Framework Research

The term conceptual framework and theoretical framework are often and erroneously used interchangeably (Grant & Osanloo, 2014). A theoretical framework provides the theoretical assumptions for the larger context of a study, and is the foundation or ‘lens’ by which a study is developed. This framework helps to ground the research focus understudy within theoretical underpinnings and to frame the inquiry for data analysis and interpretation.  The application of theory in traditional theoretical research is to understand, explain, and predict phenomena (Swanson, 2013).


Casanave, C.P.,& Li,Y.(2015). Novices’ struggles with conceptual and theoretical framing in writing  dissertations and papers for publication.Publications,3(2),104-119.doi:10.3390/publications3020104

Grant, C., & Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, Selecting, and Integrating a Theoretical Framework in Dissertation Research: Creating the Blueprint for Your “House.” Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research, 4(2), 12–26

Swanson, R. (2013). Theory building in applied disciplines. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.