How to Write a Theoretical Framework for a Study

Written by timothy burns
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How to Write a Theoretical Framework for a Study
A theoretical framework for proposed research requires extensive understanding of the field of study. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Master's and doctoral-level research projects must be approved by university faculty. The governing board in a department, or a student's adviser(s), review the project and approve the research prior to the project's initiation. The research proposal and the subsequent report at the end of the research are very formal, and students are expected to organise their ideas according to a predetermined format. The work begins with a formal theoretical framework that describes the project and its purpose.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Research idea
  • Thesis application
  • Sample of existing literature related to the project

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  1. 1

    Write an introduction to the research in such a way as to create reader interest in the topic. The theoretical framework should mention research that has gone before it, and point out existing problems or areas in the field that have not been studied. The framework identifies the purpose of the new research by discussing the existing body of knowledge on a topic.

  2. 2

    Explain in broad terms the foundation for the problem that exists, and describe how the proposed study leads toward investigating the existing problems, or gap in the previous research.

  3. 3

    Continue describing the case for the study, and build the framework for the study by presenting references to prior research. The largest section of a master's or doctoral-level thesis will be the literature review. This section, filling 50 to 60 pages, reviews prior research and statistics in the field that are related to the proposed research. The theoretical framework introduces the literature review by touching on major themes related to the proposed research.

  4. 4

    Connect the dots between the research, the problem and a specific target audience. As the theoretical framework closes, the proposal reader should understand the content and context of the problem, how it affects the field, who will be involved in the research project and who will benefit from the research.

Tips and warnings

  • A research project is expected to build on the body of knowledge that has gone before it, and contribute new information to the field. The theoretical framework is the thesis statement of the project. It connects this project to research that precedes it, and details what the new research project will investigate.

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