It is not uncommon for students to have difficulty in composing their theoretical and conceptual frameworks in research.
But the real difficulty comes in because they are unable to differentiate between the two.
The theoretical framework, a conceptual framework are both important components of a research report but it is important for students to know the difference between the two so that they can be crafted accordingly.
To start off, let’s look at the definitions of theoretical conceptual framework in research.
Kerlinger (1973) defined theoretical framework as
“Theoretical means relating to or having characteristics of theory. A theoretical framework in a dissertation or thesis, therefore, refers to a set of interrelated concepts (constructs), definitions, propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables.”
According to Reichel and Ramey Eds (1987)
“A conceptual framework is a set of broad ideas and principles taken from relevant fields of inquiry that are used to structure a subsequent activity.”
So, to sum it up more simply, a conceptual framework is a researcher’s viewpoint of how the hypothesis or problem statement of the dissertation or thesis will be explored or investigated while the theoretical framework provides the basic relationship between the different variables and components that are involved in the study.
The basic objective of the conceptual framework is to help the researcher find a direction for his study. It helps him determine the tools or methods that he will be using for his investigative study so that he is able to carry out his research effectively.
The theoretical framework, on the other hand, defines the general or broader vision of what the researcher has to work with which will make the path that is to opt for the study clearer for the researcher. A proper theoretical framework will also help the researcher find relevant and significant information that is needed for his study more efficiently.
The theoretical framework lies on the previous studies that have been tried and tested to understand the relationship between the variables while the conceptual framework will form ideas on how those relationships should be explored. The theory can be general but the concept will always be specific.
As already informed before, the theoretical conceptual framework looks at the larger picture of the problem while the conceptual framework tries to be precise and detailed in design.
So, there you have some basic differences that will give you a more definite difference between these two components of the dissertation.
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