Theoretical and conceptual framework of research builds the foundation and determines the overall approach to interpreting the data. However, there are some differences between both of them. Theoretical framework defines the underlying theories of the research on which you have based your research. On the other hand, a conceptual framework helps you draw inferences from your findings, chart the course of research variables, and establish connections between them. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of a theoretical and conceptual framework.
What is a theoretical framework?
Theoretical framework refers to the theories around which you have structured your research. These theories are the pillars of the research, and subsequently, they determine the entire pathway of your research. These theories help researchers develop and extend arguments to support and strengthen their research problem. Theories essentially seek to provide an explanation for any occurrence or issue, build relationships between ideas, and predict future outcomes.
Theoretical framework helps you discuss the significance of your research idea by relating it with the larger theoretical body in your field and demonstrating to the reader that the research idea has a solid justification or explanation in the literature. In a nutshell, theoretical framework develops a context for the entire research. Therefore, it is imperative to ground your research in a well-planned theoretical framework.
What is a conceptual framework?
A conceptual framework helps develop the connections between research variables and aids in deriving conclusions. It demonstrates the anticipated connection between research variables. A conceptual framework sets out the research objectives aligned with the research variables and how they fit together to provide logical findings. In a nutshell, a theoretical framework is the guiding light of research, while a conceptual framework is a practical method to achieve the desired results.
Why developing a theoretical framework is important?
It is essential to get familiar with the existing theories before you start working on your research. A solid theoretical framework helps your readers understand that you have done your homework before starting the research. A theoretical framework anchors your research on solid footing and helps you gain an in-depth understanding of various theoretical approaches in your field. Furthermore, it develops the context for your research problem and situates it within the overarching umbrella of theories.
Theoretical framework helps you identify the most relevant theories to your topic while comparing and contrasting different strands of thought. Theoretical framework delineates the topic within a set parameter and informs the readers about the underlying assumptions of your research. It informs the readers about the overall methodology and indicates what will follow in the discussion section. It builds the basis for developing your analysis, methodology, and final discussion.
How to develop a conceptual framework?
You can do the following things to develop a conceptual framework for your research:
Formulate a Research Problem and Research Questions
Research problems and questions help determine the direction of the entire research process. They chart out a course and determine the resolve that is it that you seek during the research. Also, it determines what specific part of an overarching phenomenon you want to explore and investigate. Henceforth, defining a clear and straightforward research problem at the beginning of the research sets a clear focus for your research. So, once you develop the research questions, the next step is to start working on building a coherent conceptual framework. It will help you identify the various aspects of the topic you want to investigate and what connections will be built between them.
Identify the Independent and dependent variables
Building connections or correlations require variables that might be shown to have a causal connection or correlation. Therefore, it is imperative to identify your research’s independent and dependent variables. It is important to remember that when it comes to social sciences, many independent variables can be involved in the research process. They can all equally have an impact upon the dependent variable; however, when it comes to natural sciences, researchers can isolate the variables and contain the impact of intervening variables, unlike social sciences because it caters to larger society which is an interplay of multiple variables.
Make a visual causal connection
Once you identify the research variables, the next step is to visualise the conceptual framework. A visual connection is an anticipated connection between the variables. It is based on the prediction or forecast of the possible causal connections between the variables. You can develop a visual model of a conceptual model using simple design boxes and identify the possible cause-and-effect relationships between the variables. This exercise helps build connections between variables and charts out the course of your research and helps derive valid conclusions.
Identify intervening variables
The next step in developing a conceptual framework for your research is the identification of intervening variables. Intervening variables are those variables that exist outside the sphere of identified independent and dependent variables. They can alter or influence the dependent variable, and therefore it is imperative to identify their impact so that you can provide an accurate account and derive logical inferences.
Get Help from Experts
Building a conceptual framework is complicated, requiring precision and skill to develop a solid framework. Similarly, the theoretical framework entails critical thinking skills to compare, contrast and analyze different theoretical perspectives. Moreover, it necessitates situating your research problem within the broader theoretical approaches. On top of that, identifying and isolating variables is an arduous task since you have to take into consideration of every possible variable, which fills many students with dread and overwhelms their nerves. However, help is always out there for those who seek it; therefore, you can always take help from expert writers at Coursework Help UK.
A theoretical and conceptual framework gives substance and direction to the entire research process. It demonstrates to the readers that you are well-acquainted with your subject area’s complexities and underlying assumptions. It also confers credibility on your research and therefore helps justify the research by articulating it within the defined parameters.