How to Make a Conceptual Framework (with Samples)

Whether you are someone new to the world of scientific literature or a veteran who just needs a quick refresher, this article will discuss in depth everything you need to know about conceptual frameworks, from what it is all about to even making your own. And by the end of this article, you will come out knowing more about conceptual frameworks while also have a better understanding of scientific literature.

What is a conceptual framework?

The simplest way to explain a “conceptual framework” is that: it is a diagram representing the relationship of variables. However, the complete explanation of a “conceptual framework” is longer and requires more explanation.

We have to understand that researchers work to examine particular aspects of the world. In doing so, they create literature where they study and propose how these certain aspects of the world relate to one another. But in explaining complex relationships, the easiest, simplest, and most effective way of delivering them is through a particular diagram called a “conceptual framework”.

Though, conceptual frameworks do not always have to be in the scientific literature. Even the average person can create their own. However, truly scientific and authoritative ones are typically found inside scientific literature. Moreover, researchers do not just create conceptual frameworks out of nowhere. In fact, they conduct comprehensive reviews of literature which support their conceptual framework which makes their conceptual frameworks even more credible.

How to Make a Conceptual Framework?

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

1. Choose your topic

As a researcher, there are many aspects of the world you can choose to investigate. However, the important thing to consider is that not all the resources of the world are available to us. Moreover, the research may also be time-bound. As such, one should choose a topic that they consider to be comprehensively achieved within the resources that they have and within the time they are allotted.

2. Make your research question

Unlike the topic which can be a broad area of study the research question has to be specific. The exact aspects of who, what, where, how, and why have to be clearly laid out. This is where one of the most important aspects of your conceptual framework will come in. The research question is a clear and arguable question which is where your research will revolve. In order to have a concise conceptual framework, your research question should be one that you are truly curious about.

A reason why the research question is an essential part of your conceptual framework and your overall research, this is what puts the focus and path of your study. It avoids the chances of getting lost as you write the paper.

3. Conduct a review of the literature

Doing a review of literature is an action where a researcher studies published works by reliable sources related to the topic. The purpose of having a literature review is to let you and your readers know about the existing ideas and information there are on your chosen topic; and as well as the weak and strong points of it. Some of the key things you should remember when doing the review of literature is that it should be: connected to the topic; synthesize the results of the publications you’ve read; and recognize the areas where there is a lack of information or insufficient evidence to prove the claim. By having a review of literature, this narrows down what you will be putting in your conceptual framework.

4. Choose your variables

Since you’ve done on your research, by this time, you will already be able to identify and pinpoint the variable that has been discussed in the publications you’ve studied and try to make a connection or decipher how they are linked. As you must have already read a lot of literature, you will find that there are many possible variables to choose from when conducting your study. However when creating research in general, it’s important that you only choose the most important variables as not all of them will be significant; as you must have read much scientific literature, you should be able to discern the important ones by this point. And when creating a conceptual framework in particular, even though you can choose all the variables in the world, it would be best not to since too many variables in a conceptual framework will be confusing. Though it is also not a good idea to choose too few variables or else your study might be too simple. As also mentioned in the previous step, you have to find the right level of intricacy in your study that will fit within your resources and time allocation.

5. Choose your relationships

Now that you have chosen your variables, you have to choose how these variables are related to one another. Given that you have already read much literature on your topic, you should already be able to define how each of your variables is connected to one another. This is especially important to note as this will largely impact how your conceptual framework will look like once you start making the diagram.

6. Create the conceptual framework

Now that you have achieved all the previous steps, the final step is to illustrate the diagram. How you illustrate the diagram will differ on a case to case basis, but generally, variable names have to be laid out clearly and put into rectangles, variables have to be connected with lines and arrows, and the arrowheads will differ depending on the nature of the relationships. Single head arrows are for relationships that are one-directional (i.e. A affects B and B does not affect A) and double-headed arrows are for relationships that are 2 directional (i.e. A affects B and B also affects A). Also, lines do not have to be limited to connecting only 2 variables (i.e. A and B); some relationships can be between more variables (i.e. A affects B and also C).

Conceptual Framework Sample

Just to have a clearer idea on the process of making a conceptual framework, let’s try to make a concrete example of it.


Background: I am a co-owner of a branch of Burger King.

1. Choose your topic

I am interested to know what affects the satisfaction of our customers. My goal is to be able to know what specific parts of our business can influence our customers’ experience.

2. Make your research question

The research question I can formulate is “What affects customer’s satisfaction of Burger King?

3. Conduct a review of the literature

I read up on different publications related to food establishments, specifically burger joints, and customer satisfaction. From here, I can already have an idea of the variables I can pinpoint from those publications that have been proven to affect customer satisfaction.

4. Choose your variables

With all the books, scholarly articles, and researches I have gone through, it can be determined that there are 3 main variables, namely: food taste, speed of service, and staff performance. Customers are very much concerned with the taste of the product. The amount of time it takes to serve them also affects how pleased or displeased they are. Lastly, the performance of the staff that serves also affects their experience.

5. Choose your relationships

I was able to determine that the 3 variables: food taste, speed of service, and staff performance, are determining factors of customer satisfaction.

6. Create the conceptual framework

conceptual framework sample

Leave a Comment