Query expansion is a method for improving retrieval performance by supplementing an original query with additional terms. This process improves the quality of search engine results and helps users to find the required information. In the recent years, different methods have been proposed in this area. In addition to such a variety of different approaches in this area and necessity of the study of their characteristics, the lack of a comprehensive classification based on candidate expansion terms extraction methods and also suitable and complete criteria to evaluate them, make the precise study, comparison and evaluation of methods for query expansion and choosing appropriate method based on need difficult for researchers. Therefore, in this paper a new useful framework is presented. In the proposed framework, in addition to the identification of three basic approaches based on the candidate expansion terms extraction methods for query expansion and expressing their properties, appropriate criteria for qualitative evaluation of these methods will be described. Next, the proposed approaches will be evaluated qualitatively based on these criteria. Using the systematic and structured framework proposed in this paper leads a useful platform for researchers to be provided for the comparative study of existing methods in the field, investigating their features specially their drawbacks to improve them and choosing appropriate method based on their needs.