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What is Conceptual Framework: Writing Dissertation & Thesis

If you google to find an answer on what is a conceptual framework, you are about to write a whole dissertation and get your academic degree. Most likely this means you are familiar with many academic terms so we’ll concentrate on revealing the topic in a way you will easily get it.

Conceptual Framework Definition

What is a conceptual framework in research and dissertation writing? The definition is quite complex to get it so we’ll try to explain it a bit more straightforwardly. Conceptual framework of a dissertation or thesis is a roadmap to how the author will convey research on the selected topic.

While writing (or drawing) this subtask you should make a plan of how plenty of upcoming data will be connected to each other in your paper. It also includes up-to-date information on existing and commonly used research methods regarding the very topic.

All data can be divided into variables — separate pieces of information that define certain characteristics. Throughout your framework, you will be connecting them with each other.

Conceptual Framework Variables

To define the connection between conceptual framework variables researchers tend to divide them into dependent and independent variables. This division is applicable to the case of causal relationships between your pieces of data.

The dependent variable is always an effect of the independent variable (which becomes the cause) in your conceptual framework. Each complex system like research for your thesis or dissertation has more than just two such characteristics. Let’s look through them.


Moderating variables are pieces of information that change existing causal relationships. Moderating ones affect your research construction with an influence on independent characteristics.

The moderating variable becomes a factor that changes the causal relationships and makes them stronger or weaker.

Let’s see it in a conceptual framework example. Imagine that your research question is in examining how book reading affects writing skills. Book reading here is an independent variable when writing skills represent a dependent one. In this situation, a moderating variable could be a high level of inherent literacy.

Book reading will more slightly affect your writing skills if you have a decent inherent literacy because of parents who write for example.

Sample of conceptual framework with a moderating variable


Mediating variable helps to explain how and why dependent and independent ones are connected. Mediating characteristics help you create a broader picture of the relationship and provide additional proof of your statement.

Working with mediating variables can make your conceptual framework more confusing. That is why try being precise and concise when you use them.

As for conceptual framework examples for mediating variables, we can turn back to our reading and writing routine. The quality of books can have more effect on your potential writing skills than their quantity.

Sample of conceptual framework with mediating variable


Control variables are constant pieces of information that can affect results of our causal relationship. They allow us to literally control how our research is held regarding some constant factor that can possibly happen.

So control variables in some way examine the relationship between dependent and independent characteristics to showcase how it can or cannot work. For example, dyslexia can become a good control characteristic for our reading and writing example.

People with dyslexia will hardly obtain good writing skills compared to people without this issue. That is why our research is not applicable for those who have dyslexia.

Sample of conceptual framework with control variable

Need Help?

If you face any difficulties with creating a conceptual framework for dissertation or any other kind of research, don’t hesitate and ask for help from a team of professional paper writers.

Joe Eckel is an expert on Dissertations writing. He makes sure that each student gets precious insights on composing A-grade academic writing.

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