Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

Theoretical Framework

For conducting good research, the development of theoretical framework seems vital. It makes finding meaningful, acceptable and backed by relevant theories. The research activities without theoretical framework makes difficult to finalized and reader may get confuse about research finding. Absent of theoretical framework lack accurate direction to search of appropriate literature and scholar in the field of inquiry. Theoretical framework act as blueprint or principle for conducting research and is essential for the development and testing of hypothesis in study. Thus, theoretical framework serves as foundation for conducting research.

While developing the theoretical framework relevant theory related to study area are used and review. The study of these theories provides the bases for investigation of certain phenomenon. The theory supplies structure for study where variables are identified and their relation in research by defining study philosophy and methodology for research. It is also useful for epistemological and ontological consideration for research. For quantitative research theoretical framework is must for the identification of variable, development and testing of hypothesis.

Development of theoretical framework help to define scope of concept and its analysis tools in research. The direction of research is also can be supplied from theoretical framework and from its help indicators are linked. Thus, it provides the guidelines to researcher about choosing research design and data analysis. It aids research in finding appropriate research approach, analytical tools and procedures for study. It also helps to compare alternative theories that might challenge perspectives which enrich the strength of study.

While developing theoretical framework the research must consider following issues:

  • Application as well as scope of theories used
  • Use of research methodology
  • Constructs, indicators and variable use in theory and research
  • Selection of specific concept and principle.
  • Main concern of research investigation
  • Relevancy and alternative theories

Element of Theoretical Framework

Building theoretical framework consist of following elements:

Theory: It act as fundamental basis of development of theoretical framework. Theoretical framework is the reflection of collection of different relevance theories used by the researcher. 

Variables: Another component of theoretical framework is identification of dependent and independent according to theories used by researcher. Theoretical framework reflects the dependent and independent variables and their link according to theories.

Relations: Theoretical framework shows the relationship between dependent and independent variables along with external environment. In the theoretical framework some time the assumption of theories is also shown if it is necessary.

Figure: theoretical framework is reflected in figure and diagrams. It is not necessary to develop the diagram of theoretical framework use in research but in general practice it is present in diagram form.

Conceptual Framework

It is the structure or diagram that researcher argue that a best model to describe the phenomenon under study. It links the concepts, empirical research and important theories use for the describing the research issues. It is the researcher’s own understanding of how the particular variables in his study are connected base on literature review and its theoretical framework. Thus, it identifies the variables required in the research investigation. It is the researcher’s “map” in pursuing the investigation. It explains how the research problem show be explore and explain. In conceptual the relationship between main concepts and its measuring variables under study.

Conceptual Framework provides simple present the concepts use in the study where researcher define the problems and its way to explain to measure the concepts of problem under investigations. Thus, it shows the thinking of whole research process under which researcher plan to conduct the research.

Theoretical Framework Vs. Conceptual Framework

There are many researchers who still feel that conceptual framework and theoretical framework are same but there are some difference between them. Firstly, theoretical framework provides border framework of concept but conceptual framework provides only operational definition and its variable use in research. Thus, theoretical framework has border scope than conceptual framework. Secondly, theoretical framework is based on existing relevant theory but the conceptual framework focuses only on concept and variables used in the study. Thirdly, in case of theoretical framework the development process is well which is acceptable for the pool of people who understand the theory but in case of conceptual framework, the structure is developed for the purpose of testing through empirical study. Fourthly, interrelated theory is used in theoretical framework and in case of conceptual framework the interrelated concept use in research are present.

For the development of conceptual framework at first the researcher identifies the concepts use in research then search literature for the general and operational definition of the concepts use in research. In research it is not necessary to use only one concepts so research may use more than one concepts in research. After operationalizing concept, the researcher may model the concept using theoretical framework (theoretical framework must be developed before developing conceptual framework of study). For the development of model researcher must identifying moderating variables if any and their relation with dependent and independent variables. At last the connection between concept and its indicator is established and present in diagram. This diagram is called the conceptual framework.

Elements of Conceptual Framework

Following are the elements of conceptual framework:

Concepts: In the conceptual review the relevant concepts are used. It is essential components of conceptual review. In a research more than one concepts and their interlink is present.

Variables: Another component of is presentation of dependent and independent variable and their links with concepts. For development of whole framework, the relation between dependent, independent and intervening variables are clearly present.

Diagram: Generally conceptual framework is reflected in figure and diagrams. It is not necessary to develop the diagram of conceptual framework use in research with clear relationship between dependent, independent and intervening variables but in general practice it is present in diagram form.


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