Without a theoretical framework, your dissertation can come across as unfocused and unmoored – as if you’re floundering for rationale. In academic writing it’s crucial to build your work around a theoretical framework, which provides structure for your study. We often have clients asking for help choosing a theoretical framework, and while we cannot tell you what to do or what to choose, we are happy to either set up a one-hour consultation session with a coach, so you can talk through various frameworks and gain a better understanding of which might be best for your project. Alternatively, we can do some research for you via our annotated bibliography services to help you figure out which theoretical frameworks are most commonly used by researchers in your field, which will give you a better idea of which would be most appropriate for you to use as well. You need to examine the various theories relative to your research topic and experiment to find the one that feels right for you, is well-supported in your field, and allows you to build on it with the ideas you’re putting forth and the direction you want to go.

A theoretical framework is based on a theory (or theories) that has been tested, validated, and is generally accepted by others in your field, as well as by the scholarly community. The idea is that your thesis or dissertation builds on that theory, contributing new information in some way. A few examples of theories used across various disciplines include:

    • Relational theories


    • Situational theories


    • Behavioral theories


    • Systems theory


    • Queer theory


    • Marxist theory


    • Feminist theory


    • Developmental theory


    • Change theory


    • Cognitive theory


    • Transactional theories


The theoretical framework you choose will depend on your topic, the lens from which you’re approaching the research, and what you want to say about it.

Once you have several possible frameworks that you’re considering, here are some things to think about:

    • What are your personal beliefs? How do these fit in?


    • Take a look at arguments/theories that are the opposite of your beliefs


    • Become familiar with each theory you’ve chosen, and why you chose it as an option


    • Explore some databases and come up with a quick literature review for each theoretical framework, to ensure there’s support for each of the theories


    • Make sure that the framework fits your problem, the purpose, significance, and design

If you need assistance choosing your theoretical framework, contact us today. We’re always happy to speak with you to discuss your project and how we can help.



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I was at the end of my PhD in History when I came to thesis editor. I had a very specific problem in relation to the formatting of footnotes in a thesis that contained multiple landscape pages and thus multiple section breaks. The editor who worked on my thesis demonstrated an exceptional level of expertise in formatting, resolving my problem and explaining to me exactly what was done. My thesis was returned to me in good time, and I now have the PhD. I am very grateful to thesis editor for having helped me in the crucial final stages of the PhD, and would thus highly recommend their services to prospective clients.

- Kimberley P. , PhD

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