How to use a theory to frame your research study or dissertation

How to use a theory to frame your research study or dissertation

Research frameworks are important for any academic project or study that university faculties approve, especially for doctoral or Master’s level papers. Students need to organize their ideas and findings in a specific format. The work starts with a formal theoretical framework because it describes your dissertation and its basic purpose or other research studies.

It should provide a good model to conduct your research, analyze its results, interpret your data, and report on relevant information. You should understand how to use a theory to frame research questions. This general guide will help you prepare a theoretical framework after considering your project and choosing the structure that suit specific needs perfectly.

What is it all about?

Find the right definition. People formulate all theories to predict, explain, identify, and understand phenomena or extend and challenge their key knowledge within the limits of related critical assumptions. It’s a structure to support a theory of your research study. It describes and introduces your theory to explain the importance of your research problem.

Any theoretical framework consists of different concepts, their definitions, and references to existing theories that you use for a particular study. Its nature is to demonstrate your understanding of concepts and theories in terms of your chosen topic and based on broader areas of knowledge. It’s not always something you can readily find in literature. Review pertinent studies or your course reading and search for suitable factors because a final choice depends on the ease of application, appropriateness, and explanatory power of your theory.

How does it strengthen your study?

A theoretical framework can strengthen your research study in many ways, including:

  • Allowing readers to evaluate your assumptions critically;
  • Forcing you to address basic questions and intellectually transit from describing to generalizing;
  • Connecting researchers to existing knowledge because they have a basis for hypotheses and different investigation methods to choose from;
  • Identifying the limits of generalizations.

A theoretical framework specifies the key variables that have an impact on your phenomenon and highlights the necessity to examine how they differ.

Is it different from a conceptual framework?

There’s a difference between conceptual and theoretical frameworks, though many students keep confusing them, but these terms are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. They lead to confusion because they can be vague. How to distinguish these terms correctly? A theoretical framework comes from any existing theory, while the conceptual one if your understanding how you will explore a research problem, its specific direction, and relationships between different variables in your study. Use this approach for any research type, including qualitative.

How to prepare it?

Start with checking the title because you should identify a research problem or topic to prepare your theoretical framework and achieve excellent results in your education. Without a topic, you can’t design it. Evaluate your project based on a central question to find the right focus, approach, and relationship to start your research. Brainstorm all key points of your research project. Write a mind map of different aspects of your topic to narrow it down to certain factors that contribute to its development and help you answer search questions.


Write a literature review of relevant projects because you aren’t the only person who likes a particular subject and you can adapt a theoretical framework to your paper. Examining other works can help you choose the right path to take. Point out key assumptions for your project to see any possible limitations of your chosen theoretical framework and identify the main points to focus on.

How to choose the best one?

To choose the most suitable and appropriate theoretical framework for your dissertation or any other paper, follow these helpful guidelines:

  • Start with identifying your beliefs;
  • Think about a few theories that intersect with your values and broaden your way of thinking about study concepts;
  • Improve your knowledge of these theories and determine why each one matters;
  • Review literature to support them;
  • Find out how other people applied the same theories;
  • Consider strong arguments to may oppose your beliefs;
  • Identify how theories connect to your research problems, purposes, design, and significance;
  • Choose the theoretical framework that can offer a descriptive and solid blueprint to readers.

Good theories offer a floor plan (concepts and purposes) and an elevation blueprint (structure for your paper) to help you focus your analysis plan and study design to build your research.

What to do next?

There are some useful methods that can help you write the best theoretical framework and apply it to different parts of your research paper, including the discussion section:

  • Evaluating your project;
  • Reviewing related projects;
  • Comparing available theories;
  • Outlining your assumptions.

Evaluate your research project

Consider a research problem from central questions to all early hypotheses and source materials that your paper will focus on. A strong theoretical framework must align with these aspects.

Review relevant projects

Compare your paper with similar works. If you understand that it’s their extension, feel free to adopt their theoretical framework to save your time and achieve good results. If you see that your paper is contradicting or challenging many of them, you need to use an alternative one.

Compare available theories

Contrast different approaches available for your project. Each one has its unique detriments and benefits, so your final choice depends on how you’re planning to use them to frame your piece of writing.

Outline your theoretical assumptions

Describe and identify key assumptions and how they can control your way to analyze a research subject. This simple technique reveals your knowledge of possible limitations. That’s why you shouldn’t neglect it.

Basic steps to creating the best one

Write an introduction to your research to create readers’ interest in your chosen topic. A theoretical framework must mention any previous research and point out unstudied areas and existing problems while identifying the purpose of your work by discussing the existing knowledge of this topic.

Explain the foundation for existing problems in broad terms. Describe how your proposed study leads to investigating them successfully or mention any gaps in previous research studies to address them in your paper.


Describe the case for your study and build its theoretical framework by giving references to prior research projects because a literature review matters to any thesis or dissertation. It should introduce a valuable literature review by mentioning major themes.

Connect all dots between your chosen problem, research, and targeted audience. After closing your theoretical framework, readers need to understand the context and content of your problem, its impact on the field, who participates in your project, and who will benefit from it.

The importance of your theoretical framework

Creating an appropriate theoretical framework for your study or project is an important process. How to complete it successfully? It requires a thoughtful and deep understanding of your research question, purpose, problem and significance, so you need to rightly align and connect all of these elements to let it be the best foundation for your work and guide your choice of data analysis and research design.

Imagine a theoretical framework as the electrical system running through your house. Your purpose, problem, research question, significance, data analysis, and methods must flow through each room to connect all elements together and deliver power. Every room in this house requires electricity and every aspect of your piece of writing must connect to a theoretical framework.

Why do significance, purpose, and problem matter?

It’s necessary to briefly discuss the importance of these elements for the purpose of consistency and review when creating your theoretical framework.

Research problem

It’s one of the most important parts of your research. That’s because your problem statement establishes a relationship of different factors that produce a dilemma that causes a further examination. It determines a root problem or other variables and offers an inherent. It identifies the area that requires your further research and helps you address existing issues, and you need to know how your theoretical framework connects to it.


It defines the main purpose of your study. There are certain questions that you should answer to describe how your chosen theoretical framework relates to this purpose:

  • What are the outcomes or aims of your research problem?
  • What do you hope to do with your study?


Describe the importance of your exploration. You need to determine why your chosen topic matters and who considers it to be important, explain the potential value of your project and how it will add to existing knowledge, describe why readers should care about it, etc. This section can help you detect the targeted audience. Don’t forget to explain why you choose a specific theoretical framework. Aligning it with significance, purpose, and problem is a major part of writing a strong research paper because you’re establishing different levels and parts of the knowledge that you want to build.


How to use a concept map to align it?

You need to use a special concept map to align your literature review and a theoretical framework easily and fast. This effective method will help you write a literature review in the best and most organized manner and ensure that you align it with your theoretical framework. What are the things you need to include and root in theories?

  • A brief statement of your chosen subject or topic;
  • Your introduction to a literature review organization;
  • Identification to let readers know a particular theory, its history, and key theorists;
  • Your specification of important theoretical principles that you will apply to your topic (organize them all around relevant conceptual subheadings);
  • Identification of existing controversies and conflicts in literature;
  • Identification of existing gaps or problems;
  • Explanation of how your research study connects to existing works.

A checklist for using a theoretical framework successfully

All students can use this brief checklist before, during, and after writing their research projects to guarantee high grades. Take these points into account to succeed.

  • Determine the discipline that your chosen theory will apply to;
  • Consider whether it will be a good fit in your methodological plan;
  • Decide if your study methodology relates to the concepts, principles, and ideas of your theoretical framework;
  • Think how big your chosen theory is and determine whether it’s well-developed (it has many theoretical constructs that you should investigate) or its scope is too small to fit your research question;
  • Ensure that your theory has different concepts and principles that can meet the objectives of your project;
  • Identify whether the significance, purpose, and problem of your study along with a theoretical framework;
  • Decide if you can use your theory in conjunction with developed research questions;
  • Think whether you need to modify these questions to reflect and incorporate your theory;
  • Evaluate if your theoretical framework informs a literature review;
  • Consider if your data analysis plan uses codes based on it and whether it allows you to develop grounded codes to connect them to a new one;
  • It also needs to undergird all of your implications, conclusions, and recommendations according to a data analysis.

When to get help?

This detailed guide can help you create the best theoretical framework for your dissertation or any other important academic paper. If you still experience certain difficulties, don’t hesitate to get assistance. Use our online services to solve any problem. That’s because our team of trained and qualified writers can help you with any assignment, no matter of its deadlines. You can always count on high-quality assistance at competitive rates. Our services are at your disposal 24 hours per day, so you can always contact our specialists and get help.