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Theoretical Framework: A 3-Step Guide for Researchers

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In the theoretical framework, you explain the theories that support your research, demonstrating that your work is grounded in established ideas. Stay tuned to learn how to write one!

Hi, I’m Dr. Friederike Jurth from MyThesis Academy, here to help you achieve your academic goals. The goal of a theoretical framework is to present and explain the theories and models that other researchers have already developed. There may be many different theories about your topic, so the theoretical framework also involves evaluating, comparing, and selecting the most relevant ones.

3-Step Guide for Theoretical Framework


Step 1: Pick out the Key Terms

The first step is to pick out the key terms from your problem statement and research questions, and clearly define these terms.

Once you have identified your key concepts, the next step is to evaluate and explain the theories and models relevant to your research. This involves a thorough review of existing literature to understand how these theories have been applied in previous studies.

Finally, compare the different theories and models to determine which ones are most applicable to your work. This step is crucial as it helps you build a solid foundation for your research by selecting the most relevant and robust theories.

By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive theoretical framework that effectively supports your research. Happy writing!

When writing your theoretical framework, it’s essential to compare and critically evaluate the approaches proposed by different authors. For instance, you might compare Thomassen’s definition of customer satisfaction with those from Zeithaml and Bitner. After exploring various models and theories, you then establish the definitions that best align with your research, providing a clear justification for your choices. In our case, we opted for Thomassen’s definition because it is the most relevant to the aims of this study.

Step 2: Comparing Theories

In more complex research projects, you might combine theories from different fields to build your own unique framework. This approach allows for a more comprehensive understanding and can enhance the depth of your study.

Step 3: Show How Your Research Fits In

Beyond discussing the theories of others, your theoretical framework should also illustrate how your own project fits into the existing body of research. This integration not only demonstrates your understanding of the subject but also highlights the uniqueness and relevance of your work.

Are you diving into the world of academic research and wondering how to effectively incorporate theories into your work? Here are some valuable insights to help you navigate this crucial aspect of your thesis or dissertation.

Ways to Utilize Theories in Your Research

When engaging with complex theories, you might find it beneficial to:

  • Test whether a theory holds in a specific context
  • Use theory as a basis for interpreting your results
  • Critique or challenge a theory
  • Combine different theories in a new or unique way

For instance, our example demonstrates how theory can be used to interpret results effectively.

Integrating the Theoretical Framework

In many cases, the theoretical framework is integrated into the literature review chapter of a thesis or dissertation. However, if your research involves a multitude of complex theories, it’s wise to include a separate theoretical framework chapter. This helps in maintaining a clear, logical structure throughout your work.

Structuring Your Theoretical Framework

There are no fixed rules for structuring a theoretical framework. The key is to ensure that your framework is:

  • Clear
  • Logical
  • Well-organized

If you find yourself stuck, try drawing on your research questions to help structure your framework.

Remember, the goal is to create a coherent and comprehensive theoretical foundation that supports your research and provides valuable insights into your study’s context.

About the author:

Picture of Dr. Friederike Jurth
Dr. Friederike Jurth

Possibly you already heard of me through different media channels. My name is Dr. Friederike Jurth, and I hold a certificate from Harvard in Higher Education Teaching. Since 2010, I have given lectures on Methodology, Empirical Research, Anthropology, and Transcultural (Music) Studies in collaboration with universities in the United States, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. In 2010, I began a 7-year-long fieldwork project in Rio de Janeiro and have since presented my research at conferences worldwide, including in Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, and many other countries. Additionally, I have worked as a lecturer and researcher with Germany’s renowned UNESCO Chair.

After completing my doctoral dissertation with summa cum laude, I aimed to unite, condense, and share the steps, ways, and details of my unique methodological and structural approach that I developed during my Ph.D. and that ultimately helped me achieve this result. By concentrating and putting them together into an elaborate academic conception, MyThesis Academy was born. Motivated by the sole aim and objective to help my students through all steps and stages of their thesis journey, MyThesis Academy enables them to achieve their best possible results in the shortest time, independent of their specific area of research.

In addition to my extensive teaching and research experience, I am part of the authors of the Cambridge Companion to Music in Brazil 2024, published by Cambridge University Press & Assessment, where I contribute as a Cambridge Author. This work is a co-operative project conducted remotely from Cambridge, England, United Kingdom.

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