Stupid theoretical Framework


Right, as well as another 2 chapters I have yet to write, I've been told that I need another chapter that is dedicated to the development of a theoretical framework. I know what one is, but it just seems so pointless. I've looked at a lot of other PhD theses, some that have done something similar-ish to me and they don't have theoretical frameworks. It makes me wonder why I need to write one? Is this just to satisfy the whims and desires of someone else or what? I'm quite annoyed about having to spend time doing this. Does anybody else have to write a theoretical framework chapter?

Avatar for sneaks

probably, but I don't know what one is. I have to write about my 'stance' but not sure if that's the same thing (?)

I reckon you should do it, quickly, get a rough draft out, and then ask whether you really need it i.e. do you need to spend time editing it and making it good?
Iwould say you'd rather put in the work now, than have a major amendment and get asked to add one,but maybe that's not the case :p


Hey Wal, I have to write one too! It sucks, I hate theoretical frameworks, they just serve to confuse me instead of clarifying anything. I actually wrote my chapter up as a paper and submitted it for publication- I did like a lit review of possible frameworks then outlined the one I used, explained how it relates to models that others have used, and why I think it would be beneficial to use this one to progress research blah blah. It's the most horribly boring thing I have ever written and even though the reviewers' comments weren't too awful I can't think why anyone would possibly want to read it. I certainly don't ever want to have to look at it again! I suppose I can see the need in my topic for needing to outline a theoretical framework, it's one of those topics that is crying out for one and most of the existing research is crap for the precise reason that they haven't used one, but it doesn't make it any more fun! Good luck with it! KB


Yup I dedicate a whole chapter to develop my theoretical framework. I'm not sure what your discipline is, but mine is humanities/social science, and a theoretical framework is used to explain the original way in which I look at the phenomenon in question. Using this framework I attempt to find a system out of the many actions people perform. If this framework provides us a way to systematically understand what is happening, then it shows that the framework is a useful and good one in the sense that it allows us to see the tacit social dynamics which give rise to the phenomenon. A framework, in other words, is a tool for us to look at things in a new way, and provided that it is a good way of looking at things, this framework can be an original contribution to the field of knowledge, which is what is needed in a PhD thesis.

Avatar for Eska

Hi Wally, I don't have one. In fact, my supervisor never even mentions the phrase 'theoretical framework' (or 'methods' for that matter), but my old one did all the time. I have definitions of the concepts that I am applying and I outline them in my introduction - one of them is quite important to my work and I think it will offer something useful and new outside of that, I may try and get it published after all this is over. I do have three literature based chapters in which I discuss the history of the various concepts, how I have developed them and how they merge in my analysis. When I once said 'theoretical framework' to my supervisor he looked at me a bt askance and I had the feeling that he was thinking, 'put that copy of "how to get a PhD" down and think for yourself instead', maybe my project just doesn't need that kind of definition for what I am doing.


Thanks for your input, everyone. I've written something that I hope is a theoretical framework and now just have to type it up. So the task for the rest of today is type up my theoretical framework chapter. And, if I'm good, watch a film later as a reward.


Can't you incorporate a discussion of your theoretical framework into your overall introductory chapter?

Avatar for sneaks

ok I'm going to bed now (yes I know its early, but hubby has to be up at 6am and wants me to watch an episode of jonathan creek with him - rock and roll 8-) )

I want a clear definition of a theoretical framework written on this thread before I come back in the morning (this isyour homework assignment).

Do you mean positivist/constructivist kind of theoretical? - or have you got an example of one?

I'm worried that I might need one :$


Here you go, Sneaks. Have some of my rubbishy theoretical framework chapter, which provides a dodgy definition...

Eisenhart (1991) describes a theoretical framework as:

‘A structure that guides research by relying on a formal theory…constructed using an established, coherent explanation of certain phenomena on relationships’ (p. 205).

Thus, the establishment of a theoretical framework serves to incorporate the views and findings of other scholars on a particular research subject of interest in order to justify a specific research focus and approach (Kumar, 2005)

Avatar for sneaks

oh, I have no idea how to make a theoretical framework then :-(

I was just going to review all the theoretical approaches and then say which one I was going to use, is that what it is??


Hi all,

I have been away from the forum for a bit actually grappling with my theoretical framework. Yes Sneaks what you have said is basically a theoretical framework; an analysis of the range of approaches to the project - the epistemology - that you have adopted in order to help you to achieve your research aims. It can be whatever approach you used, so mine is a feminist deconstructionist, intersubjectivist framework, because I am analysing emotion in the humanities/social sciences (put very simply). I love theoretical frameworks and would swap writing methodology chapters for writing theoretical frameworks any time!

I think that the length/breadth/depth and content really vary from discipline to discipline. so see what your supes advise? the purpose of it is to establish how you thought about your problem, so obviously it will be different for everybody. enjoy!


Yep, Queerface gives a very eloquent definition. The only thing I can add is that my theoretical framework came from the findings of my 2 literature reviews - so things like 'this hasn't really been looked at' and 'oh, nobody's ever made a questionnaire like this before'. So, my theoretical framework sets the scene for my particular approach to my research problem.

Avatar for sneaks

for some reason I'm thinking of an actual picture of a model. I guess its not like that?

I get confused between theories, methodologies and epistomological stance things i.e. I have reviewed 10 theories, which are grouped in constructavist/positivist stances etc.


I'm currently struggling with theoretical frameworks - my supervisor never mentioned it, but at my Viva it was one of the things flagged up, necessitating a re-submission.  The odd thing is, I thought I had a theoretical framework - with having included theory, on which my hypotheses were based. But clearly my idea and the external's idea were completely different.