Writing a conceptual framework

July 13, 2023 | George Orwell | 2302 views

A conceptual framework is often found hard to understand and writing among the students while writing their dissertations. In this article, we have simplified very thing being understanding the topic and how to write one.

What is a conceptual framework?

A conceptual framework can be defined as a road map of your dissertation or research paper. It also demonstrates how you are going to study the various aspects of your research. A conceptual framework describes the relationship between different variables of your study.

When should we use a conceptual framework?

A conceptual framework is used when there is a scope or need of finding a relationship between two variables. for example:

The study is to find out the relationship between hours of sleep and productivity among the employees of a multinational company. 

now to study this relationship you need to create a conceptual framework that which variables you will need to find out and how you expect them to relate to each other.

A conceptual framework is based on the Literature review of the existing studies.

Finding out the variable

The variables we are expecting to identify are the characteristics and properties of the study.

In our above example, there are two variables ‘hours of sleep’ and ‘productivity’. Productivity can be both amount of work or working hours.

A dependent and independent variable

If we need to find out the cause and the effect of the study. We need to find out both the dependent and independent variables.

In our example:

  • The cause, hours of sleep is an independent variable.
  • The effect, productivity is a dependent variable.

In a simplified way, the ‘productivity’ depends upon the ‘hours of sleep’

It is suggested to keep only one variable for the ease of the study. however, in the causal relationship, there are more numbers of relationships.

Sketching or designing a conceptual framework 

There are various ways in which a conceptual framework can be designed. It’s designed and structuring mainly depends upon the type of study. Like for our example the ’cause and effect’ study we are using box, arrow, and lines.


Component Relationship
Box Variable
Arrow Causal relationship
Lines correlation


As we are indicating a causal relationship between variable the arrow will start from the independent variable to the dependent variable.

Expansion of conceptual framework

As we find the relationship between the two variables in a causal relationship. You can also find out the other variables which might influence the independent and dependent variable relationship. The other variable is

  • Moderator variable
  • Mediator variable

Conceptual framework: definition & writing tips can be very useful for PhD thesis or in a dissertation

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