The Importance of Conceptual Clarification in a Research Paper

Reasons for Conceptual Clarification in Research

Any rigorous research on a subject requires a systematization and structuring of some basic concepts. Not only do you have to know what you want to investigate, but you also need to know the existing hypothesis, methods and theories about the object of study. In this sense, a conceptual framework is the coherent arrangement of all those aspects that are part of an investigation

The term conceptual framework is used in the field of academic research. By conceptual framework, we provide an understanding of the general representation of all the information that is handled in the research process.

Is it Necessary?

To investigate something, certain basic concepts must be handled in an orderly fashion. In the first place, it starts with the statement of the problem to be addressed. Next, the researcher must present his working hypothesis, that is, his proposal, the solution that seeks to explain the problem. From this point, the methodology is presented (which can be based on the deductive method, inductive or a combination of both). Next, a series of objective data is used to support the initial hypothesis and the data obtained is put to the test (the moment of testing the hypothesis). Other sections make up this complex process: the use of bibliography, antecedents of the problem and the theoretical foundations (the laws and theories involved in the research task), as well as some final results and conclusions. In this way, all these elements are intertwined and form a general conceptual framework.

The conceptual framework is a graphic representation that is usually presented in the form of a tree or a diagram and that provides an overview of a given study. In other words, it is a working guide that allows you to understand the sections of an investigation and how they are related to each other.

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The importance of conceptual framework in research

Some people may not believe that the conceptual framework is important, as they think that academic work consists of reading an article, writing a few things about and that’s it. But not quite. When writing an academic paper, such as a final project, you need to have what teachers call “basement.” In other words, you cannot write a paper-based only on your ideas. To do a job well done, it is necessary to go after books, theoretical content, websites, files and even other people’s work, to have a better “academic framework,” that makes your research solid.

Imagine that a historian considers studying an episode in the recent history of his country. What you should first do is know the studies already carried out on the subject in question (the research background is relevant because it can serve as a guide and because it can be cited as a bibliographic source). Next, the researcher must know the general theoretical bases that frame the topic he has chosen (in the theoretical bases of an investigation, it is necessary to locate the object of study and establish a relationship between the background.) In the conceptual framework, the researcher establishes in an orderly manner the basic terms that guide his study (the concept of the conceptual framework should not be confused with an explanatory glossary).

It must be specified that a conceptual framework is normally embodied in an explanatory map or scheme in which the key ideas are related to each other. In this way, a condensed vision of the research itself and its essential elements is offered.

A conceptual framework is a theoretical tool that allows the researcher to design his strategy in a joint ad coherent way. At the same time, the conceptual framework embodied in a scheme allows an observer to have a global conception of an issue.

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How to find a keyword in your research

Finding the keywords in research will help us a lot when it comes to studying and summarizing, giving us a global idea of what the subject being researched is about. In other words, when searching for keywords, we must ensure that these are the ones that are related to the content of the text. Learn to find the keywords in a text and improve your study skills.

The keywords are those that provide meaningful information about the content of your research work. Finding them in a text is a step that must be done before trying to summarize or outline it. It is important to point out that although keywords are mostly used during abstract writing, most of the keywords of research work are identified during conceptualising the framework of research.

Clarification of some related terms

There are a series of terms similar to the one we analyze here: theoretical map, the frame of reference and conceptual map. These terms are worth trying to clarify as they can easily be confused.

Usually, the conceptual framework and concept map are used synonymously. If we speak of a theoretical framework, we refer to the scientific paradigm that encompasses a series of general laws and theories (for example, the theory of evolution is the general theoretical framework of most scientific explanations in the field of biology). Regarding the frame of reference, it refers to the set of information used by a researcher to carry out his research in a certain area.

The meaning of these terms so similar to each other is relevant because without an approximate definition of each one of them the researcher cannot coherently order knowledge. In conclusion, the term conceptual framework allows us to understand and situate the object of study, just as the framework of a painting is what allows us to understand a painting as a whole.

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Can I build the introduction with a theoretical framework?

Building the introduction with a conceptual framework is very important, since, based on what you present in your introduction, your audience will understand what will be presented in the rest of the work. Thus, if your introduction already contains a theoretical basis, the first impression of the examiner will be more respectful, after all, this structure in your work shows that you know what you are talking about and have a rationale behind what you want to present for the board.

However, be careful with something that happens frequently: some students forget that that work is primarily theirs and that it was just based on other authors, who already have a name as a means of establishing precedent. Thus, students often forget this and end up putting so many direct and indirect quotes in their conceptual clarification that the content becomes practically just quotes from other people. Therefore, do not be afraid to put theoretical references in the content of your work, but be cautious in the number of citations.

In Conclusion

From the above, it becomes obvious that a research work that wants to be fully accepted needs a conceptual framework. This framework helps to situate your research within an already existing field of knowledge; thus, showing during the point of clarification that you aim to fill a gap with your work. A research work without a conceptual framework only digs a hole for itself in the long run as it misses the opportunity to delimit the research with its clarifications.

With the tips above, we hope you have come to understand the value of conceptual framework and if you have been using this, keep it up.