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Graduate Student Services: Research Tools for the Graduate Student

Research Guide for Graduate Students at the University of Charleston, South Carolina

The Literature Review

The Literature Review is a necessary component for any significant work in your graduate studies.

Follow this link for tips on conducting one and review the video embedded below.

Identifying and Developing a Theoretical Framework

As a graduate student, you may be asked to explore your topic, and later, your thesis, within the context of a theoretical framework. 

A theoretical framework as defined by Simon and Goes "provides a well-supported rationale to conduct your study, and helps the reader to understand your perspective."

It can be challenging to identify the theoretical framework of the research you read, and to develop a framework to support your own thesis or dissertation.

The link below includes a worksheet to help you pull out keywords to combine with the word "theory" to find theories and theorists who match up with your intended research.

Suggested Resource

While researching the literature to grasp an appropriate theory, it helps to read research that states the theoretical framework very clearly. This is a required section in most dissertations and theses.

Search the database listed below, Dissertations & Theses, to read some samples. 


Simon, M. and Goes, J. (n.d.). Developing a theoretical framework.

What is a structured abstract?

The Structured Abstract is a valuable tool in understanding the scholarly article you are reading. You may also find it helpful to use for clarity in writing your own papers.

1)     Complete citation for your article (any citation style):




2)     Background or Statement of the Problem:





3)     Research Purpose (what the research focused on and why):





4)     Theoretical Framework (often stated in the Literature Review section):




5)     Research Methods/Approach:

a)      Setting (place and time?)


b)     Participants (control group? random population?)



c)      Research design (statistical? case study? quantitative? qualitative? interview?)


d)     Data Collection and Analysis (how were outcomes measured? statistical methods used?)



6)     Findings (study results):




7)     Implications or Conclusions (what did the authors find? more study needed? ):


J. Finch, 2011. Modified with elements found at ERIC. Description of Structured Abstract Elements,

Adaptation of Metacognition Pyramid

Revised for Critical Reading,
Possible Adaptation of Dr. Alison M. Mostrom’s Metacognition Pyramid,
for Philosophy Papers, done by TΦ101 (,
June 24, 2009



What is the topic you are reading about?




What are some interesting questions about that topic? Circle

most interesting question(s).






What are some possible answers to that question? Circle the most

promising answer(s).






What are some texts or arguments that the author uses to support his/her answers to the question(s)?





Did those texts or arguments make the author modify his/her answers?



Source: This adaptation has been modified for critical reading by J.L. Finch (2014) from the original, which was done by TΦ101, June 24, 2009 and found at The original is “Possible Adaptation for Philosophy Papers,” based on Dr. Alison M. Mostrom’s Metacognition Pyramid.


Creating a Search Alert

As a Graduate Student, you will conduct research over several semesters.

It will help you to use the free account offered by many databases. Setting up an account allows you to carry your organized research with you to any computer, and allows you to set up alerts to let you know when anything new in your field is published.

Jannette Finch

Jannette Finch's picture
Jannette Finch
Addlestone Library, Room 101