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Theoretical Framework for Dissertation – What and How

Published by at August 13th, 2021 , Revised On August 22, 2023

The theoretical framework is one of the most infamous aspects of a dissertation, but it provides a strong scientific research base. You are likely to produce a first-class dissertation if the theoretical framework is appropriate and well-thought-out.

But what is a theoretical framework? And how do you develop a theoretical framework for your dissertation?

Content for Theoretical Framework

Your theoretical framework of a dissertation should incorporate existing theories that are relevant to your study. It will also include defining the terms mentioned in the hypothesisresearch questions, and problem statement. All these concepts should be clearly identified as the first step.

Theoretical Framework Goals

  • You will need to identify the ideas and theories used for your chosen subject topic once you have determined the problem statement and research questions.
  • You can frame your study by presenting the theoretical framework, reflecting that you have enough knowledge about your topic, relevant models, and theories.
  • The theories you choose to investigate will provide direction to your research, and you can continue to make informed choices at different stages of the dissertation writing process.
  • The theoretical framework bases are the scientific theories that justify your research; therefore, you must use them appropriately for referencing your investigation.

1. Select Key Concepts
Sample problem statement and research questions: According to the company X report, many customers do not return after an online purchase. The company director wants to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty to achieve the long-term goal of the company. To investigate this issue, the researcher can base their research around the following problem statement, objective, and research questions:
Problem: Many customers do not return after an online purchase.
Objective: To improve customer satisfaction and thereby achieve long-term goals.
Research question: How can online customers’ loyalty increase by increasing customer satisfaction?
1. How can you relate customer satisfaction with customer loyalty?
2. How are the online customers of company X loyal and satisfied at present?
3. What are the factors affecting online customers’ loyalty and satisfaction?
The satisfaction and loyalty concepts are critical to this research; therefore, will be determined as part of this study. These are the key terms that will have to be defined in the theoretical framework for the dissertation.

2. Define and Evaluate Relevant Concepts, Theories, and Models

You will be required to review existing relevant literature to determine how other researchers have defined the key terms in the past. The definitions proposed by different scholars can then be compared critically and analytically. The last step is to choose the best concepts and their definitions matching your case.

It is also necessary to identify the relationships between the terms. Whether you are applying or not applying the existing concepts and models in your study, you will need to present your arguments and justify your choices.

3. Adding Value to the Existing Knowledge

In addition to analyzing concepts and theories proposed by other theorists, you might also want to demonstrate how your own research will contribute to the existing knowledge. Here are some questions for you to consider in this regard;

  • Are you going to contribute new evidence through primary research or testing an existing theory?
  • Will you understand and interpret data with the help of a theory?
  • Do you wish to challenge, critique, or evaluate an existing theory?
  • Is there a new exclusive method through which you will combine different theories proposed by other scholars?

Types of Research Questions you can Answer

The descriptive research questions only use the theoretical framework because their answer requires literature research. For instance, ‘how can you relate customer satisfaction with customer loyalty?’ A single theory can answer this question sufficiently.

The sub-question, ‘How the online customers of company X are loyal and satisfied at present?’ cannot be answered theoretically because it requires qualitative and quantitative research data.

Theoretical Framework Structure

There is no fixed pattern to structure the theoretical framework for the dissertation. However, you can create a logical structure by drawing on your hypothesis/research question and defining important terms.

For instance, write a paragraph containing key terms, hypotheses, or research questions and explain the relevant models and theories.

Also See: Organizing Academic Research Papers: Theoretical Framework

Length of Theoretical Framework of Dissertation

The length of the theoretical framework is usually three to five pages. You can also include the graphical framework to give your readers a clear insight into your theoretical framework. For instance, below is the graphical figure of an example theoretical framework for classroom management.

Sample Theoretical Framework of a Dissertation

Here is a theoretical framework example to provide you with a sense of the essential parts of the dissertation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

To choose a theoretical framework for your dissertation:

  1. Define research objectives.
  2. Identify relevant disciplines.
  3. Review existing theories.
  4. Select one aligning with your topic.
  5. Consider its applicability.
  6. Justify your choice based on relevance and depth.

About Anastasia Lois

Avatar for Anastasia LoisLois is an academic writer and editor at ResearchProspect. A writer by day and a reader by night, She is loathed to discuss himself in the third person but can be persuaded to do so from time to time.