Many people while making researches especially for the first time get caught up in the steps to making a good impression in the theoretical and conceptual framework of the study. Often times, students find it difficult to differentiate between theoretical and conceptual framework. Today, you will be exposed to the meaning of theoretical and conceptual framework and how to write a good theoretical and conceptual framework. You will also see the differences and similarities of theoretical and conceptual framework. Let's begin by looking at their meaning.

What is Theoretical Framework?

Theoretical framework simply states the theory aspect of your work, the existing, tested and viable theories backing up your current research. So to say, theoretical framework is a collection of interrelated theories which guides your research work.

What is Conceptual Framework?

A conceptual framework is what informs your readers on what to expect and know from your research. It defines the relevant variables for your study and maps out how they relate to each other. A conceptual framework is constructed before collecting data and often represented in a visual format. You should construct a conceptual framework before you begin collecting data.

Now to it's similarities.

Similarities Between Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Framework.

Both theoretical framework and conceptual framework have these in common:

  • They point to the reliability of the study from the previous research findings and theories.
  • Both explain the future course of the research study justifying the reliability of the study.
  • Both are used to understand a research problem and guide the development, collection and analysis of the research.
  • They both show the relationship between ideas  and theories  and how they relate to the study.

Knowing these similarities, let's look at their differences.

Differences Between Theoretical Framework and Conceptual Framework.

Theoretical Framework

Conceptual Framework

  • Theoretical framework is based on the use of  an existing theory or theories (for example, The Theory of Motivation)
  • Conceptual framework on the other hand, is the literal meaning of the concept of the study using dictionary meaning and empirical findings from other literatures.
  • Theoretical framework looks into the current research problem using the lens of past relevant theories from existing literatures.
  • Conceptual framework looks at the current research problem through the lens of existing knowledge on the topic, and what the researcher want us to know about that topic.
  • It is based on the research paradigm.
  • It is developed from the basis of acceptable and logical findings.
  • Theoretical framework is often  used in quantitative researches.
  • Conceptual frameworks are commonly seen in qualitative research works.
  • Here, you have a general set of ideas and theories
  • Here you have the specific concept the researcher uses in the study.
  • Theoretical framework focuses on the historical background and the structure to filling the gap in knowledge.
  • Conceptual framework focuses on the fundamental concepts characterizing the study variable to give an informed understanding of the study.

So having looked at the similarities and differences  between the theoretical framework and the conceptual framework, a few tips on writing a good framework wouldn't hurt. To make a good framework, follow these steps:

Tips on Writing a Good Theoretical Framework.

  1. Examine your research problem.
  2. Consider the key variables in your research.
  3. Review past related literature to find answers to your research question.
  4. List the constructs and variables that might be relevant to your study.

Tips on Writing a Good Conceptual Framework.

  1. After selecting a topic for your research, carry out a literature review.
  2. Try to understand what research has already been done on the subject matter and contribute.
  3. Look for the specific variables explained in the literature and examine the relationship between them.
  4. Ensure your thesis contributes and fills in a gap in knowledge.
  5. Create your conceptual framework; it can be in the form of a flowchart, mind map or concept map and explain thereafter.

So there you go, with this knowledge, you are good to go!