∑(TC/N)= ∑(DMC/N) +∑(NDMC/N) +∑(IMC/N) or Diarrhea= ß(Age)+ ß(Sex)+ß(Toilet)+ ß(Water)
Achyut Raj Pandey
Nepal Health Research Council
What is a conceptual framework?
A written or visual presentation that:
-explains either graphically, or in narrative
form, the main things to be studied – the
key factors, concepts or variables
-and the presumed relationship among them.
Conceptual framework represents way of
thinking about a problem or a study or way of
representing how complex things are.
• Its like lighthouse
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.
McGaghie et al. (2001)
The conceptualization part of the
research process might well be called
the thinking part of the research while the
factual part of the research process is
more related to the doing aspect.
Conceptual framework should cover
• Establishment of the tentative relationships
between the dependent and independent
variables included in the study.
• Visualizing conceptual causal threads to form
a representation of inter-relatedness among
the identified issues or variables.
Conceptual framework should cover
• What are the assumptions? What are the
• Identification of possible answers to the
research questions? How are the possible
answers to the question explained and
Where does the conceptual framework fit in -
• Research problem:
• Aims and objectives:
• Literature review:
• Conceptual framework:
• Research questions:
• Data collection and analysis:
• Interpretation of the results:
• Evaluation of the research:
The issue of theoretical or practical interest.
What we want to know and how the answer
may be built up.
A critical and evaluative review of the thoughts
and experiences of others.
Provides the structure/content for the whole
study based on literature and personal
Specific questions that require answers.
Methodology, methods and analysis.
Making sense of the results.
Revisit conceptual framework.
• Identify relevant variables
• Define variables
• Have an idea of analysis
Prof. Roger Vaughan, 2008
• The ability to move beyond description to
explanation of why and how
• A means of setting out an explanation set that might
be used to define and make sense of the data flow
• Filtering tool for selecting appropriate research
question and related data collection methods
• A reference point /structure for discussion of
literature , methodology and results
• Identifying boundaries of work
Concepts and theories
A theory is used in the broad sense to refer to
an abstraction which summarizes and
Concepts are mental images or ideas relating to
phenomena or objects that share common
Conceptual framework and Theoretical
Genesis Created from a variety of
conceptual and theoretical
Adapted from existing
Synthesis of relevant
Application of a theory
as a whole or in part
How to draw a conceptual framework?
• If you drew a picture of your statistical model,
this would be a conceptual framework
because it visualizes the variables and how
they are related.
• Generally Framework may include one
outcome and multiple hypothesized
Steps in developing conceptual framework
1. Identifying the relevant concepts.
2. Defining those concepts.
3. Operationalising the concepts.
4. Identifying any moderating or intervening
5. Identifying the relationship between variables.
How does it look?
It can take the form of Equation or a diagram or
may simply description of how the variables are
Diagram may take the form of
• Overlapping domains framework
• Sequential framework
• Ecological framework
Conceptual framework as an equation
Diarrhea= ß1(Age)+ ß2(Sex)+ß3(Toilet)+ ß4(Water)
Figure 1. Conceptual framework on the relationship between malnutrition, infections and poverty.
Rytter MJH, Kolte L, Briend A, Friis H, Christensen VB (2014) The Immune System in Children with Malnutrition—A Systematic
Review. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105017. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105017
Conceptual framework as ecological model
• Dahlberg LL, Krug EG. Violence-a global public
health problem. In: Krug E, Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA,
Zwi AB, Lozano R, eds. World Report on Violence
and Health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health
Ref: Dahlberg LL, Krug EG. Violence-a global public health problem. In: Krug E,
Dahlberg LL, Mercy JA, Zwi AB, Lozano R, eds. World Report on Violence and
Health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002:1–56
Example: Conceptual framework as
Development of conceptual framework is an
iterative process, develop once and keep
revising as you move on