An analytical framework is combined of two factors, a theoretical and a conceptual framework.
Analytical framework = theoretical + conceptual framework (secondary data review, analysis plan, methodology, tools)
A theoretical framework precedes a conceptual framework and has a general and visual representation of a topic. Well-known examples include:
- Risk = Hazard * Vulnerability / Capacity to cope
- Response Gap = Needs – Response
- Needs = Desired standard – current condition
- E = mc2
A conceptual framework includes specific information on the research scope and objectives, as well as how the problem will be explored and investigated (synthesis of what is already known about the issue, information gaps and needs, indicators, data collection techniques, tools, etc.). This means an analysis plan is often included in a conceptual framework, outlining a research question and steps to conduct the research (Chataigner 07/2017).
A good theoretical framework generally shares these five characteristics:
- Hierarchy and association: Break down the issue at hand into main components/sub-components. Connect/group components and show the presumed associations between them
- Focused: It structures main analytical outputs. It clearly displays and separates inputs, outputs, and outcomes
- Logical: It makes common sense, is theory-driven, is causal, and has a clear chain (e.g. baseline, input, outputs and outcomes)
- Interactive: It details how components are related and intersect analytically to provide more analytical value (e.g. A+B=C)
- Visual & intuitive: Fits on one page, is visually displayed, and easy to communicate and understand (Chataigner 07/2017).