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Scientific and Technical Advisory Council (STAC) of the Special Journals Publisher (SJP): Conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology Research. Special Journal of Anatomy and Physiology Research, [SJ-API], 2020; 1 (1):1-18




A concept is an idea notion, thoughts, perception, or impression about something or anything. It may be about a question, problem, challenge, strength, success, or more. A framework is an outline, agenda, or background of anything (1). So, the concept of research or framework of research may be seen as the idea, notion, thoughts, perception, or impression of a research or investigation whereas the framework of the research is the outline, agenda, or background of the research. (2)

Therefore, the conceptual framework of scientific research such as Anatomy and Physiology is the outline or agenda of the researcher’s idea, notions, perception of the research, or investigation (3). In other words, the conceptual framework may be seen as the entire, reasonable direction and associations of research ideas that form the fundamental intellectual, structures, plans and practices and implementation of your whole research project. The conceptual framework defines the complete package made of the researcher’s thoughts channeled towards the identification and mastery of the research: topic, problem, questions, literature, theories, methodology, the methods, procedures and instruments, the data analysis and interpretation of findings, recommendations and conclusions (4).

According to Miles and Huberman (5), a conceptual framework or concept map pulls together, and makes visible, what the researcher’s implicit theory is, or clarifies an existing theory. This can allow the researchers to see the implications of the theory, its limitations, and its relevance for your study. Again, it helps to develop theory and like memos, concept maps are how the researcher thinks on paper; they can help the researcher see unexpected connections, or to identify holes or contradictions in the researcher’s theory and figure out ways to resolve these. Concept maps usually require an extensive change to get them to the point where they are most helpful (6)

Concept map development

To develop a concept map, a set of concepts to work with is needed knowing that it is all about trying to represent the already existent theory a researcher already has about the phenomena being investigated, not primarily to invent a new theory (7). On the other hand, topic keywords probably represent important concepts in the theory of research being implemented (8). Some of these concepts can be pulled directly from things already written about a research topic under investigation. These may serve as a way of broadening the scope and spectrum of coverage of the research area

The existent topic may be used as an example in which an already written topic may be used as a template to map out the theory that is implicit (or explicit) in this topic. One key concept, idea, or term may be taken and an effort made to brainstorm on all of the topics themes and subthemes that might be related to this (9). Thereafter, efforts are made to scale down, the topics and only those that seem most directly relevant to a study under investigation may be studied.

The selected topic may be subjected to scrutiny by asking someone to review the topic under investigation to help point out areas of bias about the topic. Concepts are not to be ignored based on personal experience but ignored or accepted based on the literature as these can be central to a conceptual framework. Strauss (10) and Miles and Huberman (5) provided additional advice on how to develop concept maps for an investigation. Once a concept has been generated effort is made to find out how these are related and find out what connections exist among them.


It is true that many publishers and authors have the right to present their research report in one way or the other, one thing stands out that in all research, a generally good paper include the one that has a very clear concept map making it clear for readers to locate the point of argument and what authors have achieved or tried to achieve in the paper (11). The significance of a conceptual map or framework cannot be over-emphasized and this applies to all disciples or events for which reliable answers are needed for critical questions (12).


In this study efforts were made to review in retrospect activities and updates taking place in the research world over the past 3 decades with the ultimate goal of showing the significance of conceptual framework in research

Materials and Methods

In this retrospective cross-sectional study, we downloaded and perused 486 published full-length original papers, published addendum, corrections, editorials, abstracts of meetings, conference proceedings, and review articles, on the general concept of development and sustainability. This searching and corresponding download of relevant papers were made from a globally recognized research-based data repository that included but not limited to the Web of Science (WoS) (13) core collection database on the nineteens of July 2020 at about 10.25 GMT+2). The database of PubMed, Research gate, and Google scholars were perused to be sure no new documents relevant and necessary for this study were missed out. However, the web of science formed the major and reference database for this study because our software was more compatible to recovered data encoded in the web of science database while other databases consulted served to provide other relevant articles, we considered imported but probably missing in the web of science.

Boolean topic search approach

The Boolean topic search approach (14) used included “(development * AND sustainability$) OR (Sustainability of * AND development$) to encompass all relevant and available documents (15) on the subject of development and sustainability between 1990 and 2019. At the time of this study, we judged that the Web of Science Core Collection database had enough user-friendly and accessible academic research database relatively covering enough journals, books, conferences as well as millions of records from (references). To ensure the inclusion of abbreviated or shorten words, the wildcard * and $ were added to the end of the search algorithms. Thereafter, all documents that meets the eligibility criteria of sustainable development were retrieved and exported into BibTex file format and the authors, titles, abstracts mined in PDF file format.

 Data analysis

All the bibliometric variables were retrieved filtered and normalized for quality control. The results were analyzed in a bibliophagy plug-in package of the 3.5.1 version of R-studio software, while the codes and commands were adopted from Https:// to evaluate the bibliometrics indices. Tables and graph were made in Microsoft excel 16 version and network maps were visualized in 1,6 Vox-viewer software


In this study, 409 papers written by 1425 authors over a period of three decades were recovered, perused, and analyzed as shown in table 1. Ninety-nine (99) documents were written by 96 authors while 1329 authors wrote 1230, multi-author documents giving 3.62 collaborative indexes. Authors and co-authors per document indexes were 3.48 and 3.62 respectively. Two hundred and eighteen (218) documents were full-length articles. Twenty-nine book chapters and 10 proceedings papers were originally presented as articles. Fifty-two (52) proceedings papers, 56 reviews, three of them were originally presented as journal articles while 18 were editorial materials and 18 articles were Editorial documents respectively.

Figure 1: Word TreeMap of with conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology Research

From figure1, the conceptual framework received the biggest category allotment followed by research agenda, health, nursing, case study, and determination. A literature review was the next biggest category allotment and the associated variables included research, decision making, framework, bibliometrics, and competitive advantage.

The next category is innovation and associated variables included, including sustainability, prevention, creativity, clinical research and electronic health records. The next category was qualitative research and the corresponding variables included evaluation, Africa, knowledge management, women, data privacy, and communication. Collaboration and quality of life had equal category size allotment with variables of collaboration including primary care, systematic review, critical appraisal, knowledge, action research, and epistemology whereas experiential learning, Asia, comorbidity, leadership and data repositories as the associated variables. Risk is the next category and associated variables included cooperate social responsibility, outcomes, higher education, China, and ecosystems respectively

Figure 2: Word growth trend withconceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

Figure 2: The word growth graph shows word usage in the studied period as relates to conceptual framework and research. While the frequency of words used remained relatively stable from 1994 to 2004, the use of the conceptual framework experienced a hype as seen in a steep rise from 2008 till 2018. All other words used remained relatively stable and low in occurrence from 2004 till 2014, thereafter literature review, sustainability, research agenda, and innovation as shown in the fig above.

Figure 3: Topic trend with a conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

Figure 3: The trend of topics used in research involving conceptual framework are shown in the above figure. The use of words in research experienced the greatest 4-fold logarithmic growth between 2014 and 2018 with governance, participation, and context being at the base of the topic trend while management, model, and impact were on top of the topic trend. Terminologies that saw a two-fold rise included information, systems, outcomes, policy, innovations, community, firms among others. Between 2008 and 2010, biodiversity, consequences’, experiences, United states, experienced less than 2-fold log rise in occurrence.


Figure 4. Co-occurrence of author keywords network withconceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

Conceptual framework cooccurred with literature review, research agenda, prevention, research, nursing, women, and heath. Among the conceptual framework variables, literature review had the strongest relationship with research while nursing, prevention, women, health, and research agenda had a similar relationship with literature review.

Figure 5: Multiple comparison Analysis of the Conceptual structure map in Anatomy and Physiology research

The green cluster located in the North-East quadrant of the multiple comparison analysis of the conceptual structure map MCA/CSM which represents a positive conceptual framework that is strongly related to the associated variables such as performance, competitive advantage, governance, perspective, context, management, and information technology, all clustered in a distance considered most discriminatory to the conceptual framework and research.

To further interpret the observed category and variable relationship nested within the northeast quadrant, the distance from the central category to the variables depicts the strength of relationships with the closest having a stronger relationship than the distant variables. Therefore, in the green words cluster: the conceptual framework map is strongly related to knowledge and weakly related to the resource-based view, networks, organizations, and technology. The green cluster in the southeastern quadrant depicts the presence of inclusion and diversity weekly related to perspective, identity, business, construction, and firm performance.

Finally, the red cluster lies between the southwest and the northwest quadrant depicting no inclusion and diversity and the associated variables are relatively normally (neither strong nor weak) associated with the listed variables. However, within the red cluster, nested within the southwest and northwest quadrant: faculty, women, medicine, care, cultural competence, improving diversity, African Americans, climate, workplace, and leadership are all distantly discriminated against inclusion and diversity compared to closely related experience education, science, gay, discrimination, schools, a minority in figure 5

Figure 6: Topic dendrogram with a conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

From figure 6 of the topic dendrogram above, community and design are related to each other while strategies and firms are related to each other. However, community/design is different from strategies/ firms. Information technology and knowledge are similar but not similar to completive advantage. Context and performance are a similar bit different from management and technology. On the other hand, risk and sciences are similar but different from policy. Consequences and quality are similar but different from behavior. Organizational culture and program are similar but different from trust and systems Experience is similar to life but different from challenges. And so on

Figure 7: Author collaboration network with a conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

The bubbles represent authors, the size of the bubbles represents the magnitude or number of publications. The line between authors represents coauthorship links, the line between two authors or bubbles shows that those authors have coauthored one or more articles, authors that have coauthored articles tend to be located close to each other. Colors indicate clusters of authors that are connected by coauthorship. The figure above shows there was relatively no collaboration but the bubbles overlap may indicate a coauthorship connection between authors. Authors on the left of the figure relatively low number of articles with no collaboration and no coauthorship.

Figure 8: Institutional collaboration network with a conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

The figure above shows there was relatively no Institutional collaboration that is outside a given location since there is no line linkage. However, bubbles overlap shows size overlap and may not indicate any consortia of collaboration.

Figure 9, Country collaboration network with a conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology research

The figure above shows there was a collaboration between countries. United Kingdom collaborated more with other counties followed by the USA. Other counties were all connected to either USA or UK but rarely to each other. Three main clusters can be seen the blue, purple, and red. The United Kingdom worked more with Netherlands, and France, then followed by Kenya and Italy, and Belgium, Sweden, and Finland. The USA worked more with Switzerland, Ireland, and South Africa followed by Bangladesh, Pakistan, Columbia Mexico, India, and China. The red cluster is between Germany Japan and Spain. And the green cluster is between New Zealand Australia and Canada


Human Anatomy and Physiology deals with the structure and function of human cells. The concept of structure and function is vital as it lays the foundation for a good grasp of the pathology of human illnesses (16). The basic research in Human Anatomy for which a good concept is needed may include but not limited to: Evolution of anteroposterior patterning of the limb (17), Molecular and embryology of social competence (18), a novelty in human germline gene editing (19), Proteomics of single human embryos prior to implantation (20), laterality in conjoined twins (21), early development and neurogenesis (22), Embryo quality and oocyte composition (23), The type of Physiology research that may be carried out relating to structure and function include but not limited to: ion and volume regulation (24), movement and migration (25), gas exchange and cardiovascular function (26), acid-base regulation (27), feeding and digestion (28), waste excretion and thermoregulation (29), sensory perception, and reproduction are dictated by the constraints of salinity, viscosity, gas solubility, pressure, availability of ionic species, water currents, ambient light and sound, seasonal dehydration and thermal changes, and pollution (30).

The need for a good conceptual framework that will help a carefully designed researched to achieve its set objective cannot be over-emphasized. Therefore, a description of a good concept is necessary.

Elements of the concept map

Conceptual map (31) has 4 unique elements, namely: concept, lines/arrows, linking words, and proposals. A concept is a word that is used to identify facts, processes, objects or situations that share the same characteristics, and differentiate them from those that are different from them (32). Lines and arrows are used, within a conceptual map, to represent the connection between one concept and another (33). Linking words are short descriptions that are located between one concept and another, next to the lines that connect them, with which the way in which concepts are related. Concept maps are time schemes containing preselection, presentation of information in segments that are later integrated. Concept maps answer questions that help build knowledge (34). When new knowledge is gained, stakeholders appreciate elaborate approaches to things and strive to implement them, leading to the negotiation of meaning and self-esteem

There are so many ideas that come in and go out in a researchers’ mind but it should be noted that not all these ideas are researchable. The decision on which thoughts or ideas should be studied are based on many premises but the most outstanding are challenges too: advancement, wellbeing, existence, supremacy, and more. Advancement is a broad term that may include but not limited to knowledge, technology, economy, and many other interests. Wellbeing covers health, social, economic, and environmental. Existence challenge deals with survival from extinction while supremacy challenge deals with fame, power, respect, and more. Care and caution are needed when sieving through information to know what to study or investigate to confirm a concept.

Information quality for concept map development

Quality of information considered when designing a good concept include, relevance, faithful representation, Neutral, comparable, verifiable, concise, timely, Relevant ideas keep the research in focus to the objective and prevent frivolities and waste of resources and increase the feasibility of the study. Correct representation gives the true picture of the idea in real terms with no fabrication, falsification, or extrapolation. The neutral idea is not swayed to the left or right and mostly remains in the center but subsequently impacts both left, right, and center. Nature and quality of ideas are defined by their comparable, verifiable, concise, and timely characteristics. These are the basis for which a good concept map or framework is made.

Figure 1, shows the word treemap of certain terminologies used to show the relevance of this study to Anatomy and Physiology. Such terminologies include but not limited to: health, health equity, drug abuse treatment, qualitative research, primary care, action research, collaboration, quality of life, Africa and Asia, China, and others. These are terms that can come to mind when conceptualizing a research study in Anatomy and Physiology. In Figure 2, management, model and impact were on top of the most trending topics. Many of the Anatomy and physiology research is tested on experimental models, and the outcome of the experiments definitely has impacts on disease management in the long or short term.

In decreasing order of magnitude, conceptual framework cooccurred with literature review, research agenda, prevention, research, and more fig 4. In Anatomy and Physiology research, the first step is to conceptualize the research, look for literature to determine its relevance in the research world stage, develop an agenda of the research and implement the research in such a way as to achieve the ultimate goal of disease prevention. Among the conceptual framework variables, the literature review had the strongest relationship with research depicting the strength and influence of literature review in Anatomy and Physiology research both of which remain strong variables to the conceptual framework.

There were few or no authors and institutional collaboration figures 7 and 8. Probably depicting the challenges and roadblocks militating against Anatomy and Physiology research. However, collaboration was noticed at the country level with the United Kingdom and the United States playing a major role in synchronizing global research agenda especially in the context of Anatomy and Physiology

As a master plan, which a conceptual framework is, some questions are necessary for the context of Anatomy and Physiology research and need answers for a good concept to be produced. The questions include but not limited to the following: what the researcher wants to do in the context of Anatomy and Physiology research? (35) Why does he or she want to do it with respect to importance, target, objective, and spectrum of coverage in Anatomy and Physiology research? How the researcher wants to achieve its objective with respect to methods, participants, sampling and data analysis, interpretation of data, the worldview of data with respect to a positive or interpretative, critical or pragmatic paradigm in the context of Anatomy and Physiology research? How will the report or publication of the findings be with respect to: a research paper, seminar paper, conference paper, book chapter, book, or thesis in the context of Anatomy and Physiology research?


The Conceptual framework is important in research, provision of the fundamental principle for setting up a standard for scientific research, enhancement of consistency and comparability (36), generally accepted criteria and principles governing science disciplines are ascertained. such as Anatomy and Physiology research. The objective identifies the goals and purpose while the fundamental provides the how to achieve the objectives.


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Conceptual framework in Anatomy and Physiology Research

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