Dissertation Methodology Writing Tips
Tips to Write Dissertation Methodology
September 23, 2019
Dissertation Research Questions
How to Write Research Questions
September 25, 2019

What is Conceptual Framework in Dissertation?

Conceptual framework for dissertation

Before you start conducting research for your dissertation, it is recommended to develop a conceptual framework in the dissertation.

Conceptual Framework for Testing Research

The type of research you are performing will determine whether or not developing a conceptual framework will prove to be helpful. A conceptual framework for the dissertation provides the liberty to the theorists and researchers to test the hypothesis and see if they will be able to verify an idea. You can also observe whether appropriate variables have been selected for the research purpose.

How Does the Conceptual Framework Relate to Cause-effect Relationship?

It is important to understand that the conceptual framework in research is just like test-drive before buying a car where you would see and check whether it is suitable for you or not? It involves the cause-effect relationship where we figure out the effect of one subject’s action on the other one and vice versa.

Example of Cause-Effect Relationship - Let’s understand it by an illustration:

Sia is a university student who got a gold medal for her tremendous CGPA throughout her degree program. She received gold medal for the continuous hard work she had been doing for 4 years. She came to know that the cause for getting gold medal was hard work.


Use the conceptual framework to identify the expected results before methodologically showcasing a cause-effect relationship for your dissertation but make sure that you recognize the relevant variables. Variables simply hold the attributes which describe the cause-effect relationship. In the example given above, two variables “Gold Medal” and “Hard Work” were used.

Dependent and Independent Variables

Two variables constitute a cause-effect relationship, i.e., the independent and dependent variables. If we look at our example, “hard work” is an independent variable, while the “gold medal” is the dependent variable. In simple words, to achieve a gold medal, you need to work hard. As a result, the gold medal is dependent on hard work.

There can be more than one independent variable that can affect the dependent variable. For instance, another independent variable that we can extract from the same example is; “CGPA”. This means that “excellent CGPA” resulted in achieving “gold medal”, which in this case “CGPA’ is the independent variable and “gold medal” is the dependent variable.

Developing a Conceptual Framework in Dissertation

Now that we have established the two types of variables (independent & dependent), we can proceed to answer the question what is a conceptual framework in the dissertation. At this stage, we start to construct a conceptual framework for the dissertation including all of its components including boxes, arrows, and lines.

Start by mentioning each variable in a box. To represent the cause-effect relationship, you can make use of arrows. Arrows would start from the independent variable and should point towards the dependent variable.

If there isn’t a cause-effect relationship, despite the correlation relationship between the variables, then you should use a simple line instead of an arrow.

These components are mentioned below:

ArrowCausal influence (cause-effect relationship)
LineConnection (correlation)

Underneath is a conceptual framework example describing the cause-effect relationship, starting from the independent variable (hard work) and pointing towards the dependent variable (gold medal).

Conceptual Framework in Dissertation

Sample conceptual framework using an independent variable and a dependent variable

It is imperative for students to make sure that deep down they know the academic basis for choosing certain methods of research. “I figured out or In my opinion” will not be an acceptable justification, and so you will need to come up with concrete academic reasons for your selection of research methods.


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Expanding the Conceptual Framework

There are some further types of variables that can be used for the conceptual framework in research. These variables expand the scope of conceptual framework depending on the type of research.

  • Moderator variables

A moderator variable is one which changes the effect on a dependent variable caused by an independent variable. It fluctuates the effect when being used in an effect-cause relationship between two variables.

  • Mediator variables

A mediator variable allows the cause-effect relationship to be understood in a better way. Mediator variables are not straightforward to understand and must to be supported by stats for the rational outcome.

  • Control variables

A control variable is a variable which along with the independent variable alters the effect on the dependent variable.

Also Read: Primary or Secondary Research in my Dissertation?

What to Do Next?

After the completion of the conceptual framework, now you need to conduct research so that you get to know about the relationships between variables. There are numerous research methods (qualitative and quantitative) from which you can choose:

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