In this article, we examine the notion of ‘framing’ as a function of metaphor from three interrelated perspectives—cognitive, discourse-based, and practice-based—with the aim of providing an adaptable blueprint of good practice in framing analysis. We bring together cognitive and discourse-based approaches in an integrated multi-level framework, and demonstrate its value to both theory and practice by applying it to a corpus-based study of violence-related metaphors for cancer. Through the application of this framework, we show that there are merits in applying the notion of framing at different levels of generality in metaphor analysis (conceptual metaphors, metaphor scenarios, and linguistic metaphors), depending on one’s research aims. We warn that researchers and practitioners need to remain aware of what conclusions can and cannot be drawn at each level, and we show the theoretical and practical advantages of taking all three levels into account when considering the use of metaphor for communicating about sensitive topics such as cancer. We emphasize the need for a ‘rich’ definition of framing, including aspects such as agency, evaluation, and emotion.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.