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For the concept in computing, see Conceptual schema.
For the concept in philosophy, see Paradigm.

A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to an idea or thought.

In education

Conceptual frameworks (also called theoretical frameworks) are a type of intermediate theory that have the potential to connect to all aspects of inquiry (e.g., problem definition, purpose, literature review, methodology, data collection and analysis). Conceptual frameworks act like maps that give coherence to empirical inquiry. Because conceptual frameworks are potentially so close to empirical inquiry, they take different forms depending upon the research question or problem. Shields and Tajalli (2006) have identified several types of conceptual frameworks (working hypotheses, descriptive categories, practical ideal type, models of operations research and formal hypotheses) for the field of public administration. The frameworks are linked to particular research purposes (exploration, description, gauging, decision making and explanation/prediction). When purpose and framework are aligned other aspects of empirical research such as choice of methodology (survey, interviews, analysis of existing data, direct observation, focus groups etc) and type of statistical technique become obvious.

In accounting

Conceptual framework of accounting "seeks to identify the nature, subject, purpose and broad content of general-purpose financial reporting and the qualitative characteristics that financial information should possess". (Deegan, 2005, p.1184)

See also


Further reading

  • Kaplan, Abraham. (1964). The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioral Science. Scranton, PA: Chandler Publishing Co.
  • Botha, M.E. (1989), "Theory Development in Perspective: The Role of Conceptual Frameworks and Models in Theory Development", Journal of Advanced Nursing 14(1), 49–55.
  • Dewey, John. (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Hold Rinehart and Winston.
  • Shields, Patricia and Hassan Tajalli (2006), "Intermediate Theory: The Missing Link in Successful Student Scholarship," Journal of Public Affairs Education 12(3): 313-334.
  • Shields, Patricia (1998). "Pragmatism as a Philosophy of Science:A Tool for Public Administration," Research in Public Administration. Volume 4: 195-225.
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