Tag Archives: concept paper

Conceptual Framework: A Step by Step Guide on How to Make One

What is a conceptual framework? How do you prepare one? This article defines the meaning of conceptual framework and lists the steps on how to prepare it. A simplified example is added to strengthen the reader’s understanding.

In the course of preparing your research paper as one of the requirements for your course as an undergraduate or graduate student, you will need to write the conceptual framework of your study. The conceptual framework steers the whole research activity. The conceptual framework serves as a “map” or “rudder” that will guide you towards realizing the objectives or intent of your study.

What then is a conceptual framework in the context of empirical research? The next section defines and explains the term.

Definition of Conceptual Framework

A conceptual framework represents the researcher’s synthesis of literature on how to explain a phenomenon. It maps out the actions required in the course of the study given his previous knowledge of other researchers’ point of view and his observations on the subject of research.

In other words, the conceptual framework is the researcher’s understanding of how the particular variables in his study connect with each other. Thus, it identifies the variables required in the research investigation. It is the researcher’s “map” in pursuing the investigation.

As McGaghie et al. (2001) put it: The conceptual framework “sets the stage” for the presentation of the particular research question that drives the investigation being reported based on the problem statement. The problem statement of a thesis presents the context and the issues that caused the researcher to conduct the study.

The conceptual framework lies within a much broader framework called theoretical framework. The latter draws support from time-tested theories that embody the findings of many researchers on why and how a particular phenomenon occurs.

Step by Step Guide on How to Make the Conceptual Framework

Before you prepare your conceptual framework, you need to do the following things:

  1. Choose your topic. Decide on what will be your research topic. The topic should be within your field of specialization.
  2. Do a literature review. Review relevant and updated research on the theme that you decide to work on after scrutiny of the issue at hand. Preferably use peer-reviewed and well-known scientific journals as these are reliable sources of information.
  3. Isolate the important variables. Identify the specific variables described in the literature and figure out how these are related. Some abstracts contain the variables and the salient findings thus may serve the purpose. If these are not available, find the research paper’s summary. If the variables are not explicit in the summary, get back to the methodology or the results and discussion section and quickly identify the variables of the study and the significant findings. Read the TSPU Technique on how to skim efficiently articles and get to the important points without much fuss.
  4. Generate the conceptual framework. Build your conceptual framework using your mix of the variables from the scientific articles you have read. Your problem statement serves as a reference in constructing the conceptual framework. In effect, your study will attempt to answer a question that other researchers have not explained yet. Your research should address a knowledge gap.

Example of a Conceptual Framework

Statement number 5 introduced in an earlier post titled How to Write a Thesis Statement will serve as the basis of the illustrated conceptual framework in the following examples.

Thesis statement: Chronic exposure to blue light from LED screens (of computer monitors and television) deplete melatonin levels thus reduce the number of sleeping hours among middle-aged adults.

The study claims that blue light from the light emitting diodes (LED) inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Those affected experience insomnia; they sleep less than required (usually less than six hours), and this happens when they spend too much time working on their laptops or viewing the television at night.

conceptual framework
Fig. 1 The research paradigm illustrating the researcher’s conceptual framework.

Notice that the variables of the study are explicit in the paradigm presented in Figure 1. In the illustration, the two variables are 1) number of hours devoted in front of the computer, and 2) number of hours slept at night. The former is the independent variable while the latter is the dependent variable. Both of these variables are easy to measure. It is just counting the number of hours spent in front of the computer and the number of hours slept by the subjects of the study.

Assuming that other things are constant during the performance of the study, it will be possible to relate these two variables and confirm that indeed, blue light emanated from computer screens can affect one’s sleeping patterns. (Please read the article titled “Do you know that the computer can disturb your sleeping patterns?” to find out more about this phenomenon) A correlation analysis will show whether the relationship is significant or not.

e-Book on Conceptual Framework Development

Due to the popularity of this article, I wrote an e-Book designed to suit the needs of beginning researchers. This e-Book answers the many questions and comments regarding the preparation of the conceptual framework. I provide five practical examples based on existing literature to demonstrate the procedure.

So, do you want a more detailed explanation with five practical, real-life examples? Get the 52-page e-Book NOW!


McGaghie, W. C.; Bordage, G.; and J. A. Shea (2001). Problem Statement, Conceptual Framework, and Research Question. Retrieved on January 5, 2015 from http://goo.gl/qLIUFg

©2015 January 5 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (January 5, 2015). Conceptual Framework: A Step by Step Guide on How to Make One. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/01/05/conceptual-framework-guide/

5 Tips on How to Make a Mind Map for Research Purposes

Do you know that mind mapping is a useful research tool? Here are five tips on how to make a mind map in developing and enhancing your research topic. An example mind map on climate change is provided at the end of the article.

A mind map can portray relationships and interactions between the different variables or factors that arise from a given topic. For this reason, mind mapping can be effectively used in generating ideas to enrich and enhance your research topic. You can use your mind map in writing the introduction of your research paper or identify gaps in knowledge while preparing your review of literature. 

Five Tips on How to Make a Mind Map for Research Purposes

How do you keep the ideas flowing and enrich your mind map to show everything that comes to mind? The following are five tips on how to make a mind map for research purposes.

1. Don’t evaluate too much.

As you prepare the mind map, you will have the tendency to stop and evaluate if you did connect the right factors or variables that come to mind.

Why is this so?

This is because you are still unconsciously bound by rules or standards set to conform with the norm. You want to conform with what you have learned or what other people have set before you.

You need not be concerned about these rules or standards but allow your mind to flow smoothly or wander. Just let it go where it can comfortably go.

Starting with the central idea, connect any subtopic that comes to mind. Don’t ask yourself whether that subtopic or idea is appropriate to connect with the central idea or not. Just quickly write it and connect with the central idea.

2. Give a time limit for each subtopic listed down in your mind map.

Allow only a few seconds to ponder on a specific subtopic you have written. Don’t let a minute pass on a single topic so you can populate your mind map with more ideas.

3. Be creative.

Preparing a mind map is an opportunity to be creative. You need not only words to express what comes to your mind.

If you want to draw a symbol, scribble a note, place a quotation or anything that reminds you of a particular topic, do it. Graphical entries make your mind map more interesting.

4. Avoid analysis paralysis.

Oftentimes, we have the tendency to overanalyze things or plan too much. This is referred to as analysis paralysis. It’s a hindrance to a productive endeavor.

Don’t be a perfectionist in making your mind map. Briefly analyze how the variables or factors relate with each other and then go ahead with the other components as swiftly as you can. Through constant practice, this will help you process information quickly.

5. Read a lot. Your mind map is only as good as your exposure on a given topic. Therefore, it pays to educate yourself on the specific topic you want to write about or do research on.

Example Mind Map on Climate Change

Applying these tips, I prepared a mind map on climate change as the main theme. Many variables come into play and get incorporated in the mind map as I let my mind wander. I tried to be sensitive on what subtopics my mind suggests to incorporate.

Using the tips above, here’s an example of a mind map that I have produced in a matter of 30 minutes using a free version of XMind, a mind-mapping software.

climate change mind map
Example mind map on climate change (click to enlarge).

Try these tips and enhance your creativity in preparing mind maps.

© 2014 May 14 P. A. Regoniel

How to Write a Concept Paper

What is a concept paper? Why is there a need to write a concept paper? How do you write it? This article explains the reasons why a concept paper is important before writing a full-blown research paper. It also provides a step-by-step approach on how to write it.

I once browsed the internet to look for information on how to write a concept paper. It took me some time to find the information I want. However, I am not quite satisfied with those explanations because the discussion is either too short or it vaguely explains what a concept paper is.

Preparing a concept paper entails different approaches but I somehow drew out some principles from these readings. I wrote a concept paper in compliance with a request to come up with one. Nobody complained about the output that I prepared.

I was reminded once again when a colleague asked me the other day to explain what is a concept paper and how to write it. He needs this information because students have been asking him on how to go about writing the stuff.

To him and his students, I dedicate this article.

What is a Concept Paper and Why Do You Need It?

First, before going into the details on how to prepare a concept paper, let me explain what a concept paper is and why do you need it.

A concept paper serves as a prelude to a full paper. What is the full paper all about? The full paper may be a thesis, a program, a project, or anything that will require a longer time to prepare.

In essence, a concept paper is an embodiment of your ideas on a certain topic or item of interest. The concept paper saves time because it is possible that your thesis or review panel may say that your idea is not worth pursuing.

One expects that the concept paper should consist only of 1 or 2 pages. Alternatively, if you want to resolve some matters, it can go up to 5 pages.

For example, as a student you may be asked to prepare your concept paper for your thesis proposal (see 4 steps in preparing the thesis proposal). This means that you will have to develop an idea and express it for others to understand. You may glean from either your experience or from the literature that you have read. Of course, your topic should be within your respective area of specialization.

If you are a student of computer science, you might want to study the behavior of wi-fi signals bounced to different kinds of material. Alternatively, maybe you wish to create a simple gadget to concentrate signals for a portable USB wi-fi connection to improve its performance. Or maybe you would like to find out the optimum cache size for greatest browsing experience on the internet. The list could go on.

How Do You Write a Concept Paper?

As I mentioned a while ago, there is no hard and fast rule on how to write a concept paper. It is not desirable to have a format as your ideas may be limited by placing your ideas in a box. You may miss some important points that may not be in the format given to you. The point is that you can express to others what you intend to do.

What then are the things that the concept paper as a prelude to a thesis should be able to address or contain? To systematize your approach, a concept paper must have at least the following elements and in the following order:


Image Source

1. A Rationale

You explain here the reasons why you need to undertake that thesis proposal of yours. You can ask yourself the following questions:

What prompted you to prepare the concept paper?
Why is the issue of such importance?
What should you be able to produce out of your intended study?

2. A Conceptual Framework

A conceptual framework is simply your guide in working on your idea. It is like a map that you need to follow to arrive at your destination. An excellent way to come up with one is to do a mind mapping exercise.

That brings up another thing, what is mind mapping anyhow?

A mind map is simply a list of keywords that you can connect to make clear an individual issue. It is our subconscious way of analyzing things. We tend to associate a thing with another thing. This relates to how we recall past experiences. In computers, we have the so-called “links” that connect commands in a computer module to make an application program work.

How does mind mapping work? You just have to come up with a word, for example, that will help you start off. You can begin with an issue on computers and from there, generate other ideas that connect with the previous one. There are a lot of literature on the internet that explains what a mind map is.

Now, after reading an explanation of the mind map, how will you come up with your conceptual framework? Well, I do not need to explain it again here because I wrote about it previously. You may read an easy to understand explanation and example here.

3. Your Hypothesis

Once the idea of the conceptual framework is quite clear to you, then you may write your hypothesis. A hypothesis is just your expected output in the course of conducting your study. The hypothesis arises from the conceptual framework that you have prepared.

Once you have identified the specific variables in the phenomenon that you would like to study, ask yourself the following questions: How are the variables related? Does one variable affect another? Alternatively, are they related at all?

A quick review of relevant and updated literature will help you identify which variables really matter. Nowadays, it’s easy to find full articles on your topic using the internet, that is if you know how. You can start off by going to doaj.org, a directory of open access journals.

Example of Hypotheses

Considering the issues raised a while ago, the following null hypotheses can be written:

1. There is no significant difference in wi-fi signal behavior between wood and metal.
2. There is no significant difference in browsing speed between a ten MB cache and a 100 MB cache storage setting using Mozilla Firefox.

At this point, you may already have a better idea of how to prepare a concept paper before working on a full thesis proposal. If you find this discussion useful, or you would like to clarify further the discussion above, your feedback is welcome.

© 2012 October 31 P. A. Regoniel

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (October 31, 2012). How to Write a Concept Paper. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2012/10/31/how-to-write-a-concept-paper/