Research Writing

What is theoretical framework in research/Content/Characteristics

Theoretical framework

The theoretical framework, also known as the foundation or referential framework, is the part that supports and bases the research work . What is theoretical framework in research?

In any research project or thesis, it is important to search libraries or the Internet for information that will help us solve the problem posed. From this moment we are building the foundations of our research, which will be presented to the reader as a theoretical framework.

It must be written from the beginning of the project, in this way it begins to build what will be the bases of the investigation.

Content of the theoretical framework

Key concepts

Any theoretical framework must define those important concepts that are part of the work . For example, if the problem that is being investigated is how to increase the efficiency of the energy production of a passive solar heater, we must start by clarifying the concepts of efficiency, energy and passive solar heating. What is theoretical framework in research?


Establish the context of the study or research in time, place and culture. This means enclosing or framing all the information you collected to a specific space. For example, in an investigation on the damage caused by smoking, the most relevant thing would be to highlight the statistics of, for example, Mexico in the last decade.

Relevant theories, works and models

When raising the problem, it was surely necessary to do a bibliographic review in which we found models or works related to our research.

Following the example of the solar heater, it will then be important to present which solar heating models have been made previously and what the operating mechanism used in them has been. The theories raised above regarding passive solar heating will also need to be explained. What is theoretical framework in research?

News or historical aspects

Depending on the field or discipline in which the research is carried out, it may be appropriate to present a historical review or a review of new developments. This will help the jury or reader to place themselves in the context of the work.

Characteristics of the theoretical framework


The theoretical framework must follow a logical structure . A chapter can be made for each aspect to be dealt with, with titles or subtitles. The best thing will always be that they carry a coherent sequence. This would be an example of a messy structure in a paper on alternative worm feeding:

  1. Methods of study of worms.
  2. Food recipes using worms.
  3. Types of worms.
  4. Alternative food and key concepts.
  5. Cultures that feed on worms. What is theoretical framework in research?

A more logical way to present this theoretical framework would be:

  1. Alternative food and key concepts.
  2. Cultures that feed on worms.
  3. Methods of study of worms.
  4. Types of worms.
  5. Food recipes using worms.


The length of a theoretical framework will depend on many factors. As a general rule, it should be long enough to present what is essential, that is, all the information necessary or fundamental to understand the subject and tackle the research work.

How to make a good theoretical framework?

  • Write as if we were explaining the topic to ourselves before knowing everything we learned during the research project.
  • Write defensively, that is, be attentive to any concept that may be confusing to explain it better, so that there are no doubts. What is theoretical framework in research?
  • Show the review made on the methods and techniques that can be used to solve the problem.
  • Include only material that is relevant for the purposes of the thesis. For example, in a thesis on the pH of milk, it is not necessary to write about the atomic structure of hydrogen.
  • Facilitate reading fluency by avoiding long lists or tables of extensive information. This information can be perfectly placed in the appendix section.
  • Assume that the jury or thesis evaluator does not know in depth the topic of the research work. The person who did all the research work and the search for information is the one who has the best knowledge of the subject.

What should not be in a theoretical framework

  • That material or information that in the end was not needed to carry out the project.
  • Ideas or personal contributions: these should be reserved for the stage of discussion or conclusions.
  • Hints of how the investigation will be done.

Examples of theoretical framework

To the question “How much DNA deoxyribonucleic acid is there in the organs of the laboratory rat?”, The theoretical framework will answer by formulating the following topics or chapters:

  1. Key concepts: definition of deoxyribonucleic acid DNA, structure, characteristics, location and function. What is theoretical framework in research?
  2. History of DNA: chronological exposition of discoveries related to DNA.
  3. Methods to obtain DNA: a series of techniques to obtain DNA from cells and organs, the comparison between the techniques, the ways to measure DNA, and, finally, what would be the technique to use in the experimental work.
  4. Preliminary research: thesis or work done previously and the results they obtained.

Starting from the question “How does cell phone use affect the school performance of young people between 12 and 15 years old?”, The theoretical framework will be assembled as follows:

  1. Key concepts: school performance, school performance measurement parameters, stages of human development, telecommunications.
  2. Cell phone: evolution and operation.
  3. School performance before the arrival of the cell phone.
  4. Methods for measuring school performance at different stages of development.
  5. Preliminary investigations of cell phone use at school.

Importance of the theoretical framework

The theoretical framework is the understanding guide that will lead the reader of our thesis or research work to know everything that is necessary to tackle our work.

In addition, a good theoretical framework provides a secure base of knowledge that will help to address the questions of the research work. It also shows that the work did not come out of “nothing” and that it has a scientific basis. What is theoretical framework in research?

In fact, it is from the search for a research problem and ways to solve it that we are beginning the construction of the theoretical framework.

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