We present a framework distinguishing three principal controls of speciation rate: rate of splitting, level of persistence, and length of speciation duration. We contend that discussions on diversification become clearer in the light of this framework, because speciation rate variation could be attributed to any of these controls. In particular, we claim that the role of persistence of within-species lineages in controlling speciation rates has been greatly underappreciated. More emphasis on the persistence control would change expectations of the role of several biological traits and environmental factors, because they may drive speciation rate in one direction through the persistence control and in the opposite direction through the other two controls. Traits and environments have been little studied regarding their influence on speciation rate through the persistence control, with climatic fluctuations being a relatively well-studied exception. Considering the recent advances in genomic and phylogenetic analysis, we think that the time is ripe for applying the framework in empirical research. Variation among clades and areas (and thus among traits and environments) in the importance of the three rate controls could be addressed for example by dating splitting events, detecting within-species lineages, and scanning genomes for evidence of divergent selection.