Think of a conceptual framework as the skeleton on which to build your nursing research. It is here that you develop the principles, assumptions and ideas that will frame your study. You can also view your conceptual framework as a map or a diagram. Writing your conceptual framework requires you to declare if you are going to use a qualitative---broad structure for analysis and data collection---or a quantitative---theory and hypothesis---approach for your nursing research.

Decide what sort of medical research you want to conduct. Experiments requiring drug tests or other scientific investigation are best done with the quantitative method. If your nursing research involves people, opt for the qualitative approach.

Identify the thesis statement of your research and write it in a circle in the middle of a piece of paper. Draw lines away from the center and make circles to record your secondary ideas. Use colored pencils if they help you articulate your thoughts and ideas.

Create a different diagram---a spider or a hierarchy---if the first does not suit your nursing research purpose. The shape is of secondary concern; it is generating the ideas for the conceptual framework that counts.

Highlight the gaps, connections and contradictions in your conceptual framework. Leave it alone for a while and then revisit the design to see if it suits your nursing research project or it you need to add additional material.

Review the ethical regulations of nursing research and make sure your conceptual framework fits within the guidelines. The conceptual framework of your nursing research will be reviewed by a board to examine the privacy and involvement of others.

Meet with your supervisor to review your conceptual framework. An experienced medical researcher may be able to identify points you missed in your conceptual framework and make suggestions on how you could improve it.


When you are creating your conceptual design, let your mind kick into "free-flow thinking" gear. You may be able to come up with some innovative formats and constructions.

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