A conceptual map is a visual representation of a research framework. With the concepts defined and the relational statements diagrammed, you are ready to visually represent the framework for your study. The framework may be limited to only the concepts that you are studying or may be inclusive of other related concepts that are not going to be studied or measured. When the framework includes concepts that are not included in the specific study being proposed, you must clearly identify the portion of the framework being used.
From a practical standpoint, first arrange the relational statements you have diagrammed from left to right with outcomes located at the far right. Concepts that are elements of a more abstract construct can be placed in a frame or box. Sets of closely interrelated concepts can be linked by enclosing them in a frame or circle. Second, using arrows, link the concepts in a way that is consistent with the statement diagrams you previously developed. Every concept should be linked to at least one other concept. Third, examine the framework diagram for completeness by asking yourself the following questions:
1Are all of the concepts in the study also included on the map?
2Are all the concepts on the map defined?
3Does the map clearly portray the phenomenon?
4Does the map accurately reflect all the statements?
5Is there a statement for each of the links portrayed by the map?
6Is the sequence of links in the map accurate?
Developing a well-constructed conceptual map requires repeated tries, but persistence pays off. You