Conceptual Research: Definition, Framework, Example and Advantages

Conceptual Research: Definition

Conceptual research is defined as a methodology wherein research is conducted by observing and analyzing already present information on a given topic. Conceptual research doesn’t involve conducting any practical experiments. It is related to abstract concepts or ideas. Philosophers have long used conceptual research to develop new theories or interpret existing theories in a different light.

For example, Copernicus used conceptual research to come up with the concepts about stellar constellations based on his observations of the universe. Down the line, Galileo simplified Copernicus’s research by making his own conceptual observations which gave rise to more experimental research and confirmed the predictions made at that time.

The most famous example of a conceptual research is Sir Issac Newton. He observed his surroundings to conceptualize and develop theories about gravitation and motion.

Einstein is widely known and appreciated for his work on conceptual research. Although his theories were based on conceptual observations, Einstein also proposed experiments to come up with theories to test the conceptual research.

Nowadays, conceptual research is used to answer business questions and solve real-world problems. Researchers use analytical tools called conceptual frameworks to make conceptual distinctions and organize ideas required for research purposes.

Learn more: What is Research- Definition, Types, and Purpose

Conceptual Research Framework

Conceptual research framework constitutes of a researcher’s combination of previous researches and associated work and explains the occurring phenomenon. It systematically explains the actions needed in the course of the research study based on the knowledge obtained from other ongoing researches and other researchers’ point of view on the subject matter.

Here is a stepwise guide on how to create the conceptual research framework:

1. Choose the topic for research: Before you start working on collecting any research material, you should have decided on your topic for research. It is important that the topic is selected beforehand and should be within your field of specialization.

2. Collect relevant literature: Once you have narrowed down a topic, it is time to collect relevant information around it. This is an important step and much of your research is dependant on this particular step as conceptual research is mostly based on information obtained from previous researches. Here collecting relevant literature and information is the key to successfully completed research.

The material that you should preferably use is scientific journals, research papers published by well-known scientist and similar material. There is a lot of information available on the internet and public libraries as well. All the information that you find on the internet may not be relevant or true. So before you use the information make sure you verify it.  

3. Identify specific variables: Identify the specific variables that are related to the research study you want to conduct. These variables can give your research a new scope and can also help you identify how these can be related to your research. For example, consider hypothetically you are wanting to conduct a research about an occurrence of cancer in married women. Here the two variables that you will be concentrating on are married women and cancer.

While collecting relevant literature you understand that the spread of cancer is more aggressive in married women who are beyond 40 years of age. Here there is a third variable which is age and this is a relevant variable that can affect the end result of your research.  

4. Generate the framework: In this step, you start building the required framework using the mix of variables from the scientific articles and other relevant materials. The problem statement in your research becomes the research framework. Your attempt to start answering the question becomes the basis of your research study. The study is carried out to reduce the knowledge gap and make available more relevant and correct information.

Learn more: Primary Research- Example, Types, Methods and Purpose

Example of Conceptual Research Framework

Thesis statement/ Purpose of research: Chronic exposure to sunlight can lead to precancerous (actinic keratosis), cancerous (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma) and even skin lesions (caused by loss of skin’s immune function) in women over 40 years of age.

The study claims that constant exposure to sunlight can cause the precancerous condition and can eventually lead to cancer and other skin abnormalities. Those affected by these experience symptoms like fatigue, fine or coarse wrinkles, discoloration of the skin, freckles, burning sensation on the more exposed areas.

Note that in this study there are two variables associated- cancer and women over 40 years in the African subcontinent. But one is a dependent variable (women over 40 years, in the African subcontinent) and the other is independent variable (cancer). Cumulative exposure to sun till the age of 18 years can lead to symptoms similar to skin cancer. If this is not taken care of and there are chances that cancer can spread entirely.

Assuming that the other factors are constant during the research period it will be possible to correlate the two variables and thus confirm that, indeed chronic exposure to sunlight causes cancer in women over the age of 40 in African subcontinent. Further, a correlational research can verify this association further.

Advantages of Conceptual Research

1. Conceptual research mainly focuses on the concept of the research or the theory that explains a phenomenon. What causes the phenomenon, what are its building blocks and so on. It’s research based on pen and paper.

2. This type of research heavily relies on previously conducted studies, no form of experiment is conducted which save time, efforts and resources. More and relevant information can be generated by conducting conceptual research.

3. Conceptual research is considered as the most convenient form of research. In this type of research, if the conceptual framework is ready only relevant information and literature needs to be sorted.

QuestionPro for Conceptual Research

QuestionPro offers readily available conceptual frameworks. These frameworks can be used to research consumer trust, customer satisfaction (CSAT), product evaluations, etc. You can select from a wide range of templates and question types and examples curated by expert researchers.

We also help you decide which conceptual framework might be best suited for your specific situation.

Learn more: Secondary Research- Definition, Types, Methods and Examples