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SCoE: Ed.D. Library Resources

Select Library Resources for Ed.D Students


Theoretical Frameworks Definition

In the The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods:

The term theoretical framework does not have a clear and consistent definition; in this entry, it is defined as any empirical or quasi-empirical theory of social and/or psychological processes, at a variety of levels (e.g., grand, mid-range, and explanatory), that can be applied to the understanding of phenomena (para. 12).

Examples of what is meant by theories that can be applied as “lenses” to study phenomena might include Vygotskian learning theory, micropolitical theory, class reproduction theory, job choice theory, etc (para. 13).

Conceptual Frameworks Definition

In The SAGE Encyclopedia of Educational Research, Measurement, and Evaluation

A conceptual framework is an organizing structure or scaffold that integrates related ideas, mental images, other research, and theories to provide focus and direction to the inquiry. It defines the “what”—the substantive focus—of the study and thus serves to guide and direct the on-going decision making required in any research endeavor. Ultimately, the conceptual framework puts forward an argument and establishes the significance of the study (para 1).

Finding Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks

Using the ProQuest Dissertation database, you may browse theoretical and conceptual frameworks. See example below: 

  • Search for either "conceptual framework" or "theoretical framework" in a separate search box, after you enter in your topic. 
  • Change the search field to "abstract."

Note: The conceptual or theoretical framework may or may not be located in the abstract. Sometimes it is located in the literature review. Therefore, if you don't find any results, you can expand the search field.

For additional information, please see the LibGuides below: