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Theoretical framework: what is it and how to define one for your thesis?

Theoretical framework: what is it and how to define one for your thesis?

December 3, 2022

Some new students (and experienced ones too) who have before them lto the preparation of a thesis, be it doctoral or academic , are facing the biggest challenge of their professional career: to define the theoretical framework properly.

I say adequately because most of the responsibility in developing a good research work, especially in those jobs where you play your most immediate future, will depend on how the theoretical framework has developed, the backbone of all academic projects . Below we will review some essential points to achieve this goal.

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What is the theoretical framework and how is it defined?

Within the structure of a research paper or thesis, the theoretical framework is the central part of the study , located between the introduction or prologue and the conclusions and / or final evaluations. In other words, the theoretical framework is the section where we will define the object of study well, and must go in consonance with the theory we wanted to demonstrate.


This phase of the work must be carefully attended, well analyzed before it is put on paper, and must also be well exposed to the reader, since it is the part that explains the point of view that is to be exposed and the criteria to be followed to make it a correct use of the methodology.

The theoretical framework has as its main function to explain or develop what is known so far about a domain of knowledge . In some cases, if a good outline of the theoretical framework is not made, this can definitively invalidate our thesis. Usually the case is simply because they do not know how to contextualize well what is intended to be said.

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What is the purpose of this section?

The theoretical framework has to be the showcase with which we want to demonstrate and legitimize our case study. It has to be one of the two thesis sections designed to add value to our scientific work, to clearly resolve our final intention and bring originality to other studies already done (The second section is the development of own research itself).


In the theoretical framework will include the concepts that support the work to deepen the topic of analysis or research, all to guide and track the study from an innovative and different approach, giving it its own personality and distancing itself from possible similarities with previous work.

In this way, in the theoretical framework the main ideas will be ordered, the hypotheses with which we want to reinforce, quotes from authors to contrast or reinforce our thesis , and different variables that can affirm or refute a theory will be analyzed, as well as contextualize the object of study to which we dedicate ourselves.

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How to elaborate the theoretical framework?

As we have pointed out above, the way in which this part develops when dealing with the object of study is of the utmost importance. Mainly, the theoretical framework consists of the background analysis or theoretical considerations of the research topic , as well as a reference framework to address our thesis.


These antecedents are the revision of previous works that indirectly justify the development of our thesis. This point is another crucial element to determine if our new work is of a novel approach and that it provides added value with respect to other research.

Depending on the type of work you want to perform, of its nature, it is possible to develop the theoretical aspects that are chosen. Is that depends on whether our thesis involves the formulation of a new theory or concept , or if it is exclusively about evolving a topic already addressed.

Essential considerations

It is crucial to know how to make and translate the theoretical framework. It is not an easy task. Sometimes you tend to copy ideas, to reformulate hypotheses or to emphasize a concept already defined. We must seek originality, excellence and novelty to impress the court or authors who will judge our work. For this, all the contributions of other authors must be duly referenced and appear in a justified way, providing relevant knowledge about the object of study and its scope, and without changing the subject abruptly .

In the theoretical framework coherence and order are indispensable , nourish it with bibliographical references to give consistency to our ideas and research. Our idea can be developed by consulting different sources and using concepts, books and authors that enrich our study work.

When we do a compilation of all the information reflected in the theoretical framework, we must explain the reasons for his choice at the beginning of the document, although without providing a justification by source but a general one explaining the selection criteria of the bibliography. That is, justify the use of the chosen authors, the consulted books and the methodology that will be followed to demonstrate our thesis, giving rise to debate and reasoning.

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